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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

[Sport] Blue and Yellow Blood

Why didn’t I have time yesterday to write about the Bay of Plenty/Lions game? All in good time my impatient friend.

First let me say that if you want breakfast in Rotorua, wait until 9am. At 8.30am (when I wanted breakfast) only the worst places are open. Follow my example and go for a stroll to the lakeside. Take some photos or just enjoy the stillness. Then at 9am go to Zippy’s Café. Best café in Rotorua and an honourable mention for the best café in New Zealand. The people are friendly and the food and coffee are good. Real good.

I sat there eating my cooked breakfast (to paraphrase: when watching the Lions, eat as the Balmy Army would eat) and after yarning to the owners started writing about my experiences of the previous evening. I have just opened my book and here is what I wrote:

As with every large event, getting in is easier than getting out. We cruised through the gate security. José had a big bag with a cushion in it (he doesn’t like sitting on concrete, it’s his piles, shhhh) and a camera bag. Neither of them was searched by the diligent men of the Red Badge security agency. As we walked in José said “I could have a bottle of Vodka in here”. We chided him for not doing just that.

We were sitting in the right place for the first few minutes of the game. Josh Lewsey’s two tries came in the corner we were sitting beside. 14 minutes in, the Bay 17 points down. Our only consolation was that Ryan O’Gara couldn’t kick his way out of a paper bag.

The game, at that point, sucked. And I texted my friend to tell him so.

Then something happened, something stirred in the blue-and-yellow hearts of the Bay players. Perhaps they realised what was going on (that the Lions were just an Auckland team dressed in Red); perhaps it was when Lawrence Dallaglio was injured (no, the Bay was on a roll well before then); perhaps after a couple of tackles missed, a couple of line outs stolen and more than a few knock-ons by the Lions that the Bay boys said: “Nope, we can beat these f*ckers!”

BOP Captain Wayne Ormond winning the ball.

BOP No.8 Colin Bourke got round on the left wing for the Bay’s first try. Then, a penalty and converted try to the Bay’s new acquisition Murray Williams and before the Lions knew it the score was 17-17 but the Bay had the advantage.

The loss of Dallaglio was very easily seen. The Lions looked less spirited somehow. Just a quick note on Larry Da-lally: although he had a dislocated and broken ankle he still left his jersey behind for his opposite number on the Bay team (try-scorer Colin Bourke).

Half time saw the introduction (and then dis-introduction) of two streakers to the pitch. TV audiences will be saying “we didn’t see that”, and you’d be right. It’s one of the joys of going to see live sport. Television does not cover streakers anymore as they do not wish to encourage it. (I’m going off-topic, but don’t worry I’ll come back soon). The internet casino Golden Palace has been sponsoring streakers and others to disrupt sporting and other events as publicity for themselves. Remember those two guys who came out and dangled their privates at Andrew Mehrtens before he kicked a penalty against Australia a few years ago? Golden Palace was partly behind that. The streakers at the Bay/Lions game were a naked man (who must have been very cold) and a topless woman (who didn’t/couldn’t run too fast). The security guards were nice enough to the young lady but really too harsh on the young bloke. The crowd booed.

This seems to be a good place to mention the crowd’s antics. At the start there was an attempt to teach the Bay supporters a song to counter the Balmy Army.

With the tune of The Lion Sleeps Tonight by The Tokens:
In the Plenty
The Bay of Plenty
The Lions lose tonight
It didn’t work and no one was going to sing it.

We were in the terraces opposite the main grandstand. Everyone was trying to sit but there were some dissenters. Just before the game kicked off everyone started to sit. Some Lions supporters near the front didn’t and got a bollocking from the crowd (us included). One of the Lions supporters turned and said: “Sit down? F*ck that!” The he realised that he was the only one left standing and had to sheepishly back down. We missed the Bay’s second try due to idiots not being able to find their seats and standing in the aisles (i.e. right in our way). The Red Badge guys moved them on after a short while (a short while too long).

It’s funny the small communities that are created in crowds of a like mind. Someone would shout out a question like “What time is the Lomu/Johnson match tomorrow?” and then someone else would yell out the answer.

After O’Gara’s first missed conversion of the second half one guy near us started to chant “You’re no Jonny Wilkinson”. That has to be the best chant I have ever heard. The streakers had come from our section as well.

Back to the game. There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing in the beginning of the second half. The lions scored first but Ryan O’Gara still couldn’t convert. He ended the night with two from six (33.3%).

The Bay came within two points and then the Lions scored two much deserved tries, to put the match away.

Bernie Upton was the BOP Man of the Match for me, for his brilliant work in the lineout. He should get a call up to the All Blacks extended team, especially if James Ryan doesn’t do well against Fiji. Special mention to hooker Aleki Latui, awesome performance.

Josh Lewsey was definitely the Lions best player, even though he and Brian O’Driscoll weren’t as effective on defence in the middle of the game.

After the match I caught up with Hori BOP, the BOP’s “mascot”. He’s the one on the left.
Me and Hori BOP

We agreed that the game went well for the Bay and that New Zealand Netball is horrible. I asked him if he was going to go down for the final, he said he was looking for a sponsor.

I discovered that the All Black coaching-staff were staying in the same hotel as I was. I thought: “Now’s the time to go and tell them about the bonus point system and ask their opinion about the new NPC and whether any of the Bay boys impressed them”. But then I saw that they didn’t look happy. Also they kind of looked and carried themselves like a bunch of thugs. So I thought better of it and instead grabbed some “paparazzi style” photos of them eating.

[Note: Photos to be added at a later date due to $%#&ing camera problems]

The story now comes full circle with me back in Zippy’s Café writing.

But what was I doing that meant I couldn’t tell this story yesterday?
I had to travel to Hamilton to meet the Māori All Blacks. Hardcore!!

More on that later, digest this post first. And I will try to get the photos for you as well.

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