Thursday, 8 October 2009

This is my last column! As a forty-something.

I started this gig a relatively youthful 40 year-old. Next week, nearly 10 years on, I’ll be writing from the wrong side of 50.

They say 50 is the new 40. I’m not so sure. At 40 there’s a chance your life’s journey has not yet reached the halfway point. At 50 you’re on the slippery slope. You take stock of your life. Where you’ve been, where you’re going, what you’ve seen and what you want to see.

Here are some sporting standouts from my first half century:

- The 1967 All Blacks to Britain and France. They say you never get over your first true love. These guys proudly adorned my bedroom wall and, to this day, I still love Sir Colin, Sir Brian and Ian Kirkpatrick.

- Getting out of bed in the middle of the night to listen (on radio) to the 1970 All Blacks take on 15 Springboks and one referee. Who could forget Bee Gee Williams in his prime.

- Having a boy-crush on Barry John in 1971 and wanting to kick round-the-corner just like him.

- Following, religiously, the last great rugby tour to South Africa, in 1976. Ken Stewart, who grew up on a farm just around the road from ours, was my hero.

- John Walker, in the best traditions of Jack Lovelock and Peter Snell, winning gold at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

- The 1981 Springboks tour. For all the wrong reasons it was the most memorable tour of my lifetime.

- Carl Lewis, emulating the great Jesse Owens, winning four gold medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

- The All Blacks winning the 1987 Rugby World Cup.

- 1996. As good as the All Blacks get. And I was there at Athletic Park to see the Aussies thrashed 43-6.

- Fulfilling a life-long ambition by getting to Wimbledon in 2003. Watching Serena beat Venus on centre court and Federer beat Roddick from “Henman Hill”.

- Being a part of the 2006 London Marathon. A crazy mix between pain and party.

- Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Valerie Vili and Nick Willis made me proud to be a Kiwi.

- The 2009 Masters at Augusta. Sport doesn’t get much better than seeing Tiger and Phil Mickelson, up close and in the flesh, paired together on the Sunday.

But I would almost trade it all, to witness Southland win the Ranfurly Shield. It hasn’t happened in my lifetime. I’m eternally hopeful it will. It would be the best belated 50th birthday present an old man could wish for.


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