Recalling the day rugby coverage was cut

Does anyone recognise any of these Otago and Southland softball players, or know the year this...
Does anyone recognise any of these Otago and Southland softball players, or know the year this photograph was taken? Graham Latta is writing a history of the Southland Softball Association, which will have its 75th anniversary in 2020. This was taken before a match in Dunedin, sometime between 1945 and 1948. Photo: Evening Star
The hackles on the back of my neck went up on Friday as a result of an email from a dedicated What’s With That reader.

It wasn’t what Keith Aitken wrote in his message that made me feel outraged. On the contrary, I’m pleased he took the time to write in, so thanks for that Keith. Instead, it was the topic — the 1981 Springbok tour.

The context was the ongoing discussion we’ve been having in this column about Dunedin’s wonderful Mt Cargill.

I was just 16 when this, in my opinion, disgraceful tour went ahead. Of course I would say that, as an anti-tour teenager at the time. But even thinking about it again now I am still disgusted at the outpouring of violence and blood, and the downright nastiness, from both sides over what’s just a game that uses an oddly shaped ball.

New Zealand was dragged through hell that winter of 1981, partly because then prime minister Robert Muldoon didn’t want to upset those who might vote the National Party back into power later in the year.

The outcome was appalling, abhorrent, repugnant.

Anyway, Keith wrote in last week to say he had been enjoying the Mt Cargill stories.

"I remember how, during the 1981 Springbok tour, while watching the second (?) test on free-to-air television, local transmission ceased after anti-tour vandals broke into the control room on Mt Cargill and pulled out all the plugs."

Graham is unable to name the four players in the back row of this photo of the 1952 Dunedin...
Graham is unable to name the four players in the back row of this photo of the 1952 Dunedin Teachers’ College softball team, featuring renowned artist Ralph Hotere in the front. Can anyone help? Photo: Supplied
That piqued my interest and I paid a visit to the sagacious, dusty, file room here in the Allied Press building, where every edition of the ODT back to the 1860s is kept in bound volumes.

After a bit of sneezing, I found what Keith was referring to.

The cut in transmission was actually during the third test of the series, in Auckland, on Saturday, September 12 that year.

Under the heading "111 city arrests" on the left-hand side of Monday’s front page, the reporter outlined that live coverage of the match was cut to Dunedin and coastal Otago viewers for about 40 minutes by anti-tour protesters.

"Transmission of both channels was stopped when about 20 demonstrators entered the transmission building on Mt Cargill by breaking a window and ‘turned every switch they could find on the switchboard’, transmission supervisor for the Broadcasting Corporation in Dunedin, Mr Brian McCammon, said on Saturday."

The front page of the ODT (cost 20c) on Monday, September 14, 1981. Interestingly, there is a...
The front page of the ODT (cost 20c) on Monday, September 14, 1981. Interestingly, there is a typo in the index at the bottom of the page — ‘‘New heights to voilence ’’ it says, pointing to page 5.
The front page also covered the flour-bombing and flare-dropping on to Eden Park by two protesters in a low-flying Cessna and the scale of the riot outside the ground that afternoon involving demonstrators, opportunists and the police.

Now, on a different note.It’s nice to know Mt Cargill has been the scene for happier occasions.I had a phone call telling me that long-serving Dunedin broadcaster, the late Colin Lehmann, got married on the summit on January 1, 2000. Apparently it was a magical affair, with those infamous mountain mists swallowing up the group at one stage.

Mystery softballers

You’ve already seen the photos here (I can assume that because I’m pretty sure most people look at the pictures first!).

Graham Latta is compiling a history of the Southland Softball Association ahead of its 75th anniversary in 2020 and needs readers’ help with names in a couple of interesting photos he has found.

"Naturally, because of our close proximity to Otago, much of the Southland history also embraces our contact with our closest neighbours at all levels of the sport, and the two photos I have forwarded are typical of that mutual involvement.

"The first, the 1952 Dunedin Teachers’ College Softball Team, contains at least four players with Southland affiliations, plus noted artist Ralph Hotere. The four Southlanders I knew and recognised played for the Marist and Demons softball clubs in Invercargill and also played rugby at various levels for the Invercargill Marist club.

"However, I haven’t been able to identify the four players in the back row and suspect they came from Dunedin or further afield. One of your readers might be able to shed some light on the subject.

"The other photo was taken by the Evening Star and shows Otago and Southland women’s softball teams prior to a match in Dunedin, but without a date or names. Because some of the Southland players are named in other photos taken around that time, the 1945-48 period would be a likely starting point.

"Hopefully someone, possibly even a player in the match, can pinpoint the date through an old newspaper clipping or other means. Any assistance would be welcome."

Thanks Graham. If anyone can help out, let me know and I’ll get in touch with Graham.

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter