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It is just so strange to think that today I am the sports editor of a newspaper that does not have Murray Kirkness in the top chair.
Our editor is heading off to the land of lattes, lame rugby teams and ludicrous house prices, and that makes me very sad.
The ODT will still come out on Monday but will be a very different place without his special blend of inspiration, intelligence and joie de vivre.
He has been the most important man in my life next to my dad, and to lose them both in the space of a year seems really unfair.
. . . oh, captain . . .
You are probably wondering why I have chosen a random pic of a former Otago rugby player to go with today's column.
No, it's not just to show that Charlie Hore hasn't always had grey hair - hi Charlie!The photo is from an NPC game at Carisbrook in 2007. It was a miserable night and a miserable game, and Otago was playing miserably.
Murray had just been appointed editor and had decided to hang out in the press box with his rugby writer, me.
Otago had fallen well behind in front of a meagre crowd and Murray was STEAMING. He is a man with a passionate approach to life and he was not impressed at what was unfolding.
He had decided to run a photo on the front page showing all the empty stands, with a simple but effective line above it: NORTHLAND 23, OTAGO 10: BUT AT LEAST NO-ONE SAW IT. Ouch.
On came Charlie, and the boy from the Maniototo promptly scored a try and kicked goals from everywhere and saved the day.
Murray was absolutely fizzing at this stage. Like me, he would much rather celebrate Otago success than lament Otago failure.
And when photographer Craig Baxter turned up with that brilliant pic of Charlie, our plan B was settled.
''Meiks, write this. Meiks, this is what I want you to do.''
Rugby writers have sensitive egos and I had a brief flash of, ''Jeez, the new editor is a bit different. Will he tell me what to write every week?''
But I picked up the paper the next day, saw ''THANK GOD FOR THE COUNTRY BOY'' over the top of the Charlie Hore photo, and had to smile.
... my captain
I'll miss you, boss.
I'll miss our yarns about everything.
I'll miss winding you up about Queensland's dominance in State of Origin, and I'll miss you banging on about the Newtown Jets and other obscure Australian teams and people.
I'll miss your smile, your laugh and your larger-than-life (not as large as it used to be) presence in the room.
Most of all, I'll miss your belief in me.
See you in Oamaru some time. It's just like Auckland except everything's better.
You reckon Otago is going to have a good season in the ITM Cup?Then put your money where your mouth is, as they say.
The Otago Medical Research Foundation is promoting a new scheme to boost its coffers and add a little spice to the season.
Members who sign up to the C'mon Otago group pledge $20 for every Otago win, $5 for each try, $3 for penalties and drop goals, and $2 for conversions, with a maximum payment of $350.
If you sign up, you go in the draw for good tickets to the test between the All Blacks and Wales in Dunedin next year.
Flick Steve Davie an email (email@example.com) if you are keen to support this worthy cause.
Not THAT Andy
Anyone who plays the Football Manager game knows how soul-destroying it can be when ''your'' club gives you the boot.
But one British bloke got a nice little pick-me-up from the real-life club that had just ditched him in the game.
He tweeted about being sacked in the game by Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, and the German powerhouse - showing a sense of humour rare in professional football - replied with a mocking (but gentle in tone) reminder that the gamer simply did not produce good enough results.
But the story gets better.
The bloke's name? Andy Murray.
British press immediately threw stories online about the tennis star's Football Manager experience.
You can see where this is heading. It, er, wasn't THAT Andy Murray.
The first quote
''It's frustrating not being able to win golf tournaments, not really being there in contention very often. But I know how close it feels and I know I just need a couple of shots here and there and it turns the tide.''
- Tiger Woods, this is getting sad now.
The second quote
''Hosting an Olympics is a corporate sinkhole sucking billions of dollars and a city's future into a bottomless abyss of excess.''
- Guardian writer Les Carpenter reacts to news Boston has pulled out of the running to host the 2024 Olympic Games.
Bravo to the Arizona Cardinals, who this week hired the National Football League's first female coach.
The NFL franchise has signed Jen Welter to be a coaching intern during training camp this year.
What's fascinating is that Welter, who has a PhD in psychology, is a former pro football player herself.
She played running back for the Texas Revolution in the Indoor Football League, becoming the first female non-kicker to play in a men's professional league.
A Fijian player abused in Christchurch club rugby. Aussie rules star Adam Goodes considering quitting because of all the booing. Why is racial abuse even still a thing these days?