5pm: Arrive Christchurch. Head straight to the Speight’s Ale House where we’re greeted by a sea of maroon. Not a red and black jersey in sight.
5-05pm: Am accosted by iconic former Stag, Jeremy Winders. Courtesy of a lovely lady by the name of Pam at Rugby Sports and Leisure in Invercargill, the Chosen One is delivering a brand new Stags’ jersey for me to wear to the game.
5-06pm: It appears that rather than carry the jersey, the Chosen One (who has put on a few kilos since his heyday) decided to pre-stretch it by wearing it under his old Stags jersey.
5-07pm: I’m not saying Jerry has body odour, but the world would be a better place if he discovered deodorant. Nevertheless, greater men than I have sweated blood in the jersey so I figure it’s a small sacrifice to make.
5-15pm: Winders is proving to be a real “strong man” of Southland rugby. As I carry the jersey over my shoulder, no one is prepared to come within two metres of me.
6-30pm: Piper puts on a less-than-flattering, figure-hugging XL Stags jersey. Vanity and self-preservation make me decide to consign my smelly new size L Stags jersey to former Southland player, Roger Kilpatrick’s back boot as we drive to Lancaster Park.
7-20pm: I do “a Piper” on Piper. I ditch him in favour of a better seat in the corporate area with the National Bank. I’m too late for a free feed, but there’s free beer. Now if only the Stags come to the party this could be a great night!
7-58pm: We’re getting hammered. How long can the gutsy Stags hold out this sustained assault on their line?
8-18pm: We head to the changing rooms at 3-3. Where there’s life there’s hope!
8-34pm: Robbie kicks another simple penalty. Wow 6-3!
9-02pm: The Boy Wonder does it again, in what he would later describe as the “best struck kick of my life”. We lead 9-3. Waterboy Jimmy Cowan is going nuts on the sideline.
9-10pm: The last 8 minutes last 8 hours but after 50 years we have the Shield. Let the celebrations begin.
9-40pm: Along with Dick King (father of Stags prop Chris), I sneak past security into the victorious Stags changing rooms. Like a nerdy rugby groupie, I get my photo taken with one of my favourite Stags Tim Boys, the Log of Wood and Scotty Cowan (who I introduce myself to).
11-55pm: I shake the hand of the proudest man on the planet at the Bog bar. Leicester Rutledge has the look, only the father of a champion can have.
1-30am: I buy Boys and Cowan a beer. My new-found friend Scotty, mistakes me for Piper. But what the heck, I forgive him because he won the Shield!
3-30am: Lights out. This has truly been the greatest day of my life!