Monday, 20 February 2012

After having to endure some pious bleating

After having to endure some pious bleating from my counterpart Steve Wyn-Harris about how he’s never missed filing a column in 17 years, I think it’s only right and proper to explain my absence from last week’s edition of this august chronicle.

Indulge me, if you wil,l as I step back in time. My dear old mum once warned me the drink would eventually get me in trouble and so it came to pass when I had one or two too many at the Otago Sports Awards last winter. There was an auction for a trip for two to Auckland, including accommodation at Sky City, to attend the 2012 Halberg Awards. In the interests of raising money for disabled athletes, I raised my hand to kick the bidding along. No one followed suit and I was left wondering whether my tux still fitted!

But I justified the unintended expense with the promise of a glitzy night on the town for my lovely and long-suffering wife Penny. Fate again conspired when she had to pull out because she was taking our eldest daughter to Melbourne to attend the prestigious (with a price tag to match) Monash University.

So there you have it. The pressure of squeezing five days into a three day working week (don’t start me on the shambles that is Waitangi Day) and the prospect of having to raise a King’s ransom for Monash, meant I was time poor and financially impoverished for the week. Something had to give.

So it was off to the Halbergs without filing a column, albeit with my broadcasting colleague Lee Piper filling in for Penny. Because we’d paid handsomely to be there, the organizers were kind enough to sit us at a table with some sporting legends – namely the swashbuckling cricketer John R Reid and athletics legends Beatrice Faumuina and Alison Roe plus their respective partners. Thrown in for good measure was Andy Hay, these days sports editor at TVNZ, who’s coxed New Zealand rowing eights to two world championship gold medals and a Commonwealth Games bronze.

Unfortunately for Piper, who had his heart set on sitting beside Alison Roe, the great marathoner did not make the start line for the evening. However, her eleventh hour ring-in, David Kirk, there to present the Halberg to the All Blacks, was not a bad replacement. While Captain Kirk was quick to ditch Piper in search of greener conversational pastures with Beatrice’s blond partner, poor old J R Reid was sandwiched between his wife and me for the evening.

The unintentional highlight of the evening was the performance (or lack of) of celebrity co-host Rachel Hunter. The ill-conceived organizers foolishly chose to pair her with Sky’s Stephen McIvor to front the awards, a man at least six inches (15cm) her inferior. Unfortunately Rachel’s pair were also about six sizes too big for her dress which led to Jim Hopkins’ humorous quip that the former super model looked like “two-air bags looking for a car accident”.

Sadly, her wardrobe was not her only malfunction. She battled with the auto-cue as I would a 2 iron at St Andrews in a gale force wind. Her butchering of VC hero Willie Apiata’s name was so bad it was funny. Thankfully for our Rach, Vainga Tuigamala or Malili Muliaina were not on the list of celebrity presenters!

However, despite Rachel “train-wreck-waiting-to-happen” Hunter, the evening went off from a judging point of view without a hitch and without any controversy. Paralympian Sophie Pascoe is a stunning young athlete, Jacko Gill is on the verge of international greatness and Valerie Adams has already been there, done that. The dry-witted Graham Henry (a man the nation has really warmed to post-World Cup), the understated All Blacks and the humble Richie McCaw really deserved their day in the sun on a wonderful night.

And for a train-spotter, the opportunity to spend the evening listening to the 84 year old Reid regale tales of yonder sporting years was worth every cent I had unintentionally paid to attend the Oscars of New Zealand sport.

Jamie Mackay is the host of the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Farming Show which airs on Radio Sport and Newstalk ZB.


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