Finn McDonald-Page meets elite Australian triathlete Chris McCormack after Challenge Wanaka. Photo supplied.
You want my opinion on the issue of whether Dunedin should be
doing what it can to be a part of the Fifa under-20 world
cup? Of course you do.
Here is the opinion of a sports editor who loves football:It
will be a massive shame if the best stadium in New Zealand
has no role in what will be among the four to five greatest
sporting events held in this country.
I understand the reservations, from both the council sinking
under a mountain of debt and the ratepayers forced to pay it
I totally accept the DIRECT economic benefit for the council
And, yes, I grudgingly agree that the stadium is better off,
financially, trying to attract Fleetwood Mac or The Eagles,
or similar acts that, while they might appear a bit dusty to
some of us under 40, would tick more economic boxes.
... are worth fighting for
This football tournament is too big, too exciting and (have I
mentioned this already?) too big to consign to the
It will provide a virtually unequalled opportunity for
Dunedin to be given global exposure - you might scoff, but
There will clearly be some economic benefit to the city, even
if the tournament will not attract the number of
supporters/visitors that flocked to the Rugby World Cup.
Finally, it must not be seen as ''only'' a junior tournament.
This will be unbelievably great football, the best we will
ever see in this country. There will be players from elite
leagues. It will be heaven for football fans.
The thought of Hamilton or Napier being a part of this
football festival, and Dunedin missing out, is unbearable.
Somebody, please make it happen.
Finally showing some contrition? Or merely confirming his
status as an insufferably arrogant cheat?Most seem to have
settled squarely on the latter definition for disgraced
cyclist Lance Armstrong following his ''confession'' to Oprah
But I wonder if your feelings about the issue have merely
been magnified, not necessarily shaped, by the televisual
Take the Otago Daily Times sports department - or at
least, its two most argumentative members - as an example.
I, being an unblinking (read: dumb) Lance acolyte back in the
day, heard some of the things I wanted to hear. He admitted
to doping. He admitted all seven of his Tour de France
victories were dirty. He referred to himself as a ''bully''.
So, while I cringed at the moments where Armstrong painted
himself as the victim, and was left disgusted at the
occasional turn of phrase that indicated he still thinks he
did nothing wrong, I generally felt he had fessed up to a
My colleague, Adrian Seconi, to his credit has been a Lance
doubter since as long as I've known him.
He still feels Armstrong is a louse, that the highly-staged
interview does not remotely scratch the surface of
I get the feeling Adrian's camp would have more members than
mine. Perhaps it's going to take a while to completely purge
the Armstrong fairytale from my system.
Winners are singers
Still shaking my head over the Otago Volts winning 10
straight twenty/20 games. Unbelievable.
Congratulations to Vaughn Johnson, Derek de Boorder, RtD
(apparently it's Tendo, but The Last Word prefers RtD for our
favourite Dutch South African Dunedinite), Brett Lee (who I'm
sure told me 14 years ago he dreamed of playing for Otago),
Jacob Duffy (and whoever is running his very funny Twitter
parody account) and all the rest.
No doubt the Volts would have belted out their team song with
extra gusto after their win in the final.
It's very much a team thing but we hear the song was written
by Steve Finn, the Englishman who played for Otago last
summer, runs to the tune of The Ants Go Marching, and refers
to ''the coldest place on Earth''.
It would be very easy to condemn Zac Guildford as we survey
the wreckage of a promising career that has all but gone off
There is no doubt Guildford has been terribly wasteful of the
gifts (rugby ability, notably sheer pace) and support he has
been given in recent times. That incident in Rarotonga, where
his drunkenness and lechery were on full display, was
But - and I stress I am not recommending we continue to wrap
the bloke in cotton wool - it is hardly time to call for the
He needs help to battle his drinking problem, and both the
All Blacks and the New Zealand Rugby Union need to provide
what support they can.
Rugby continues to foster a strong relationship with booze
companies, and it can hardly act surprised when one of its
elite young men is led astray by the sponsor's product.
Redemption in this specific area is possible, as proven a few
years back by former Highlanders captain Jimmy Cowan.
Arguably, he behaved worse than Guildford, and he was given
the help he needed.
To Jimmy's immense credit, he came back a better person and a
better rugby player. Young Zac could do a lot worse than
follow his lead.
While we're on the subject of sportspeople behaving badly,
how about those nutters at Challenge Wanaka?Oh, hang on.
Turns out elite triathletes are not only incredibly tough and
dedicated but also have the common touch when interacting
with the public.
Finn McDonald-Page certainly thinks so. The sports-mad Outram
10-year-old was in Wanaka, supporting mother Clare, competing
in the Lake Wanaka Half.
Finn was cheering and whooping as the elite Challenge
competitors arrived at the finish. Chris McCormack, the great
Australian triathlete, paused for a high five and handed Finn
his (presumably rather expensive) sunglasses. The pair later
caught up for a photo.
When CJ was great
You might recall our recent story on Llewy Johnson, the young
North Otago cricket star who smashed a record score (159) in
the South Island primary schools tournament in Christchurch.
It brought back some memories for someone else in that fine
province: North Otago Rugby Football Union chief executive
''CJ'' was a Dunedin North Intermediate pupil when he scored
an unbeaten 107 for Otago against Southland in 1972.
The tournament was played in Oamaru, at St Kevin's College,
and another star in the Otago side was future international
Jackson played in the tournament in three consecutive years.
In both 1971 and 1972, he was named captain of the South
Island primary schools team.
He went on to play for the New Zealand Brabin (under-20) team
for two years.
Birthday of the week
Wayne Gretzky is 52 today.
The Great One. Has there been a more appropriate nickname?