The song that almost became the 1974 Commonwealth Games anthem

The 50th anniversary of the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch has brought back a lot of memories for residents.

One of the big events before the games was a nationwide contest to find an original theme song for the sporting spectacle. Christchurch band, The Footsteps, jumped at the opportunity to put together an entry.

The song reached the final stage of the competition, a memorable feat for the three band members.

Drummer John Clarke felt the group did well to get to this stage.

"There were a lot of really good artists who actually put in entries for it."

Their song Oh What a Day was a big hit and made the NZ music charts after being released.

It led the nationwide postal vote until the final week but was pipped at the post by singer Steve Allen's track Join Together.

The Footsteps members John Clarke (drums), Neville Barrie (guitar, vocals) and Eric Robinson ...
The Footsteps members John Clarke (drums), Neville Barrie (guitar, vocals) and Eric Robinson (keyboard). Photo: Supplied
"It's disappointing to lose after ... being told by the radio every five minutes that you're leading everything right up until the last minute."

But Clarke and the guitar and vocalist, Neville Barrie, said Allen was a special talent.

"(Join Together) was a great song," Clarke said.

The EMI competition had a $300 prize, which equated to more than $4000 in today's money.

Barrie said Oh What a Day was still played by the New Zealand Army Band at the game's opening ceremony as athletes marched into the stadium.

"We got a lot of exposure with our song. A huge amount of people rang us up. We got more bookings and more high-profile bookings, and so it did us well."

Clarke and Barrie have made successful solo entertainment careers in Christchurch and are just happy to have been involved in a little slice of the city's history.

- By Geoff Sloan, made with the support of NZ On Air