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The big C
Yes, Covid finally wormed its devious way into The Last Word’s household, and what an unpleasant experience it has been.
At no stage have I been complacent during this pandemic — I got all three doses of the vaccination as soon as possible, worked from home for large periods, adhered to all the rules, and so on — but even so, I was not really prepared to be knocked so flat, nor to be still dealing with lingering effects two weeks later.
If you didn’t already realise it, or somehow doubted you would get anything worse than a mild dose, be assured this is a serious business, folks. Stay safe out there.
Enough is enough
Press conferences in sport are generally a fairly turgid affair.
Mostly, the coaches and athletes do not really want to be there, and the setting is so staged and sterile it prevents any sort of rapport being developed.
But if you watch one press conference this year, track down the clip of Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr speaking before the NBA playoff game against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday.
The conference happened shortly after the horrific events in Uvalde, Texas.
Kerr, whose father was assassinated by a gunman in Beirut in 1984, spoke powerfully and emotionally about the unique American crisis of school massacres.
"I’m not going to talk about basketball today. No basketball question matters," Kerr said.
"When are we going to do something? I’m tired of the minutes of silence.
"It’s pathetic and I’ve had enough."
There was more. Please watch it.
Comings and goings
The Last Word was in his sickbed when two major announcements involving Otago cricket greats were made.
Firstly, a hat tip and best wishes to the great Katey Martin, hanging up the bat and gloves after a sterling career for her beloved Otago Sparks and White Ferns.
I don’t really know Katey — though I go way back with her dad, Steve, who coincidentally was unveiled as Otago’s new high performance manager the day his daughter pulled stumps — but have long admired her talent, tenacity and spirit.
And, out of nowhere, the king of South Dunedin was named coach of the England men’s test team.
You doubt Brendon McCullum at your peril. The man has a touch of stardust about him, and it will be fascinating to see what he can do with a battling test team.
Hope you get smashed by the Black Caps though, Baz.
It was the worst thing I have seen in years — no, I’m not talking about Sam Gilbert’s tip tackle on Michael Hooper.
Two minutes to go in the game between the England and Argentina men at the Toulouse sevens tournament.
The Argies are down to six men but lead 19-0, so will safely progress to the quarterfinals. England, needing only to avoid defeat by more than 16 points, crosses the tryline ... and the game stops.
In utterly disgraceful scenes, the English player just stands and waits while the clock ticks down, and the Argentina players hang back and do nothing.
It was an appalling moment, raising questions about match-fixing at worst and a despicable lack of professionalism at best.
Above all, it was a giant "eff you" to the fans, who pay these players’ wages and did not deserve to be treated to such junk.
Perhaps Covid has made me extra grumpy this week but it was just so awful.
Skull and bones
Here is a lovely story from grassroots rugby.
You remember Glenn Dickson, the strapping former Otago five-eighth who played professionally overseas but will always count as his career highlight winning the Meads Cup with the Old Golds in 2007.
Dicko is a Pirates man to the core — like me, he laments the death of the club at senior level — and he had an emotional moment recently when his son became the fourth generation of the family to wear the famous black jersey.
Wee Laurie Dickson followed in the footsteps of his father Glenn, grandfather Craig Dickson (150 premier games for Pirates) and two great-grandfathers, namesake Laurie Dickson and Ivan Macintosh.
Yes, finishing second in the league yet again to Abu Dhabi FC hurts a little.
But what a time to be a Liverpool fan.
The domestic cup double in the bag, another Champions League final tomorrow, brilliant players and men all over the park, and the world’s greatest human, Juergen Norbert Klopp, as our manager.
Still haven’t got the tattoo — waiting for my young mate Jake Matthews to confirm when we are getting them done — but my love for this football club only grows.
Name of the week
Louis Ferenc Puskas Fenton. Yes, I was this old when I learned that is actually the name of the Phoenix and All Whites right back.
Fenton’s mother is Hungarian, and he got his middle names in homage to the legendary Puskas.
He has announced his retirement at 29 after a solid if injury-plagued career in which he played 159 games for the Phoenix over a decade and made seven appearances for his country.