sportreview.net.nz 2014, um, review

As has been pointed out, this blog’s tenth year has not been an especially productive if you measure these things in terms of *posting* on the blog. Let’s up the word count with a mazy dribble through 2014.

Football
That was a Great world cup. Not only did we get pretty football and amazing goals, but it all seemed to be played in front of big, noisy crowds (not that noisy) in decent spirit, apart from the biting and that. It’s a shame FIFA lets us down again and again as an organisation, but somehow, they’re still running this game.

Game of the tournament was Brazil v Germany, for wonderful goals and the other-worldliness of it all, it was like seeing the fall of Rome in two 45 minutes halves. Goal of the tournament was the little Aussie battler Tim Cahill’s, what a strike. Performance of the tournament was any time Miguel Herrera was on the camera.

I don’t want to talk about Tottenham. Expecting a Tottenham manager with mixed results in the first season to be there for any length of time is like expecting loyalty from a domestic house cat. I’ve been hurt too many times before.

Oh, and this was the greatest thing to happen on the field in 2014:

Rugby
New Zealand is in the middle of another, yinnow, very special era. We’re kind of getting used to them. But are we happy? I have to say I didn’t watch as much rugby as in recent years, mainly kept it to the big Tests v South Africa and the Ockers and catching some of my Chiefs in the super rugby (I am extremely confident that next year is going to be our year again). Malaise? Laziness? I don’t know. There is nothing wrong with the game the national team is playing, we have more depth than seems fair to other nations, and are expertly coached.

Maybe it’s because you can’t hold a conversation about rugby in this country without WHAT ABOUT THE WORLD CUP hovering over you like a grim reaper. Enjoying rugby outside world cups seems pointless. Can we have more proper tours with three test series and matches against provinces please? Taking the game to the Chicago did not do it for me.

Maybe I should just relax and enjoy it. We really are spoiled in this country.

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I got down to Dunedin to see the Chiefs crap out to the Highlanders with a bunch of (fellow) idiots from Hamilton. This is a world class stadium that had a lot of atmosphere when half full, it must be amazing when packed. You’re so close you think someone is going to put liniment on you.

Cricket
How bonkers was 2014? From Corey Anderson knocking up a world’s fastest ODI ton on new year’s day to the prospect of the BLACKCAPS reaching all kinds of records and just quietly having the most successful-ever Test calendar year ever, it’s been one we’ll remember for a long time. Highlights:

Being at Eden Park for the ODI v India with 28,000 people, thanks to Auckland’s Indian community, who were amazing. Great taste of what a packed cricket stadium feels like ahead of the Big Tournament next year.

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The Test win at Eden Park, with Brendon McCullum’s double ton and an absolute rip snorter from Neil Wagner to get us over the line. Eden Park can feel AMAZING with a few thousand in too.

Seeing half of Wellington come in on that murky Tuesday morning to cheer the skipper on to 302. Privilege to be there.

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Just quietly, while the grassy banks of Seddon Park are still home for me, I am coming around to the charms of the Basin big time as New Zealand’s best Test ground. From the old-school main stand to the lovingly-and-expertly run museum (check out that book sale) to the fact so many of NZ’s most passionate cricket fans are Wellingtonians who are loud on the Twitter and turn up to see their teams. My head has been turned. See you on the third.

Again, I’d never expected to go to Bangladesh in my life, let alone twice, but that happened. It’s not for everyone, and living the sheltered life with the team meant you don’t really see the real city, but I loved it. That Chittagong storm was something to see with chest-rattling thunder and blinding lightning moving slowly and inevitably through the muggy night air to the ground before the rainstorm came. Biblical stuff.
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Winning a rare away Test series in the West Indies by coming back from a loss in the second and being deep in the crap in the third was remarkable, many players cite that series win as their highlight of the year.

The third Test v Pakistan in Sharjah will be remembered for the way the team paid tribute to Phil Hughes and then performed one of the most remarkable turnarounds you’ll ever see. You kind of want to wax lyrical but it doesn’t seem appropriate. It was nuts and made me very proud.

Elsewhere, the cricket from Australia has been compelling, with Mitch and his moustache, and this series against India shaping up nicely. And the tributes to Phil Hughes were moving and appropriate. This clip from his 50-over double hundred for Australia A shows you what an outrageous batsman he was, have a look at what we’ve lost:

The internet and that
I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to be able to sit at work and do*ahem* work on one screen and have SKY Go and Tweetbot going on the other. I watched a lot of the football world cup like this, as well as some of the West Indies Test series, the Ashes and the current Australia v India series.

I loved #putoutyourbats, ’twas a very cricket way to pay tribute to Phil Hughes.

The Alternative Commentary Collective was funny and brilliant, and an example of using the internet to do new things, of which I approve. Will be great to see them back this year.

Watching sport with Twitter is kind of cool but kind of weird, you miss a lot when you’re trying to keep up with the conversation. That said, out of my cold, dead hands, etc. What’s the answer team?

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sportreview.net.nz 2014, um, review

Hell of a year

Baz

Brendon McCullum:

“We decided that we couldn’t win every game, but what we could do is change the way we played and the attitude towards us and the attitude within the group… Players changed, players’ personalities and behaviours started to change.

“We wanted to be known as a team that no matter what situation we were in, we were going to make it bloody tough for the opposition to beat us. That might beat us, and if they outplay us that’s fine, but we’re going to make it hard.

“We’re going to play an attacking style of cricket; in the field we’re going to chase the ball to the boundary as hard as we can; you’re going to see a team that works incredibly hard off the field; and you’re going to see a team that’s respectful and even-keeled in their emotions. You see that now with the way Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor celebrate hundreds compared to other teams around the world. Very rarely do we get into confrontations on the field. We want to be known as a team that respects the game, works hard and plays attacking and innovative cricket.”

Recommended reading

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Hell of a year

Links on Friday

Like many New Zealanders of a certain age, my memories of the Benson and Hedges Series are nothing but golden. The moustaches, the Beige, us having a great team and doing pretty well, all enjoyed at fantastic viewing times during long, humid summer nights on the couch. Even The Underarm, it warms the cockles of my heart how angry we all were (are?) together. Russell Jackson looks back:

We should always remember the Benson and Hedges World Series Cup – fondly glorifying it, misremembering how slow the net run rates actually were, perennially overrating some of the ropey touring sides who made up the numbers against Australia and the West Indies and convincing the generations below us that it was cricket nirvana because occasionally, it truly was.

This is the great man Dimitar Berbatov with a ‘did I leave the oven on’ touch, before immediately ordering those not fit to be on the same pitch as him about. Read the full list of first touches you can only dream of.

sportreview.net.nz wholeheartedly endorses skipping stones as a legitimate sport.

Neville

Manchester United’s Gary Neville asked Manchester City fan and dad rocker wag Noel Gallagher to sign what looks to be a very nice guitar. Hilarity ensues.

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#putyourbatsout

2014-11-29-13.08.23

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#putyourbatsout

Phil Hughes

I don’t have very much to add to the many, many words that have been and will be written about what’s occurred to this fine man and cricketer. His teammates, who seem like just another bunch of young guys rather than hardened international cricketers all of a sudden, are obviously really, really hurting.

A player dying on the field in a first class match on a decent pitch wearing the same modern equipment everyone uses is literally a freak. I’ve watched international players work up serious speed in the nets, but I’d have thought getting hit would have been more  ‘really fucking painful’ than ‘fatal’, as everyone does.

It brings home that you need to extremely mentally tough to play at the higher levels where the bowling is fast – but after all, cricket is literally playing, it’s a game. Cricket’s about summer, competing and enjoying yourself, no-one’s meant to die doing it.

I’d recommend the following:

Cricket Australia’s video tribute (CA are doing fine work in extremely tough circumstances, FWIW).

@rustyjacko‘s fine obituary in the Guardian

Greg Baum in The Age

Jim Maxwell announces the news on Australian radio

Gideon Haigh reacts on the radio and in The Australian

Jarrod Kimber’s reaction

Scoreboard

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Phil Hughes

Links on Friday

sportreview.net.nz had a floppy-fringe-and-cardigan-and-moody-guitar-band- enabled stormer in the 90s. The football was GREAT too, with Tottenham’s ‘famous five’ of Teddy Sheringham, Jurgen Klinsmannn, Darren Anderton etc forever holding a special place in my heart – but was football in general actually *better*? Vice UK investigates.  Seriously, this page is worth it just for the Matt Le Tissier goal compilation alone, fantastic stuff.

This guy went to the Tour De France and didn’t enjoy it. Surely the ideal scenario for watching TDF in the flesh would be picking a little mountainside bar, spend the day there drinking cheap red wine and eating bread and cheese and watching it on the telly while bantering with adorable old geezers wearing berets and bags of onions and garlic, pausing only to saunter outside to watch the riders go past? He’s done it all wrong.

If sportreview.net.nz was in the market to get rad / gleam the cube etc, it would opt for a VHS-inspired deck, like so:

Skate

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Tottenham 2014/15 – the big preview

Graeme at sportsfreak.co.nz got me off the bench to do the Tottenham Hotspur season preview this year:

“My dream scenario for 2014/15 would be selling some players we don’t need, signing a ‘stick the ball in the net’ striker, sorting out who our first team is, performing competently against the top four, thrashing Arsenal at least twice, having the same manager at the end of the season as we do now and qualifying for the Champions League. Not too much to ask.”

Go read the whole thing, and all the other teams, there’s some great stuff there.

halloween_227020c

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Tottenham 2014/15 – the big preview

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Get behind the scenes with the All Blacks – in the 80s! At the time, The Good, The Bad And The Rugby was a revelation, for presenting ‘All Blacks as people,’ at a time when they usually appeared in our living rooms either smashing Frenchmen in the face or advertising Jockeys. It was a simpler time of mullets n larfs n guitars and a bloody joy to watch.

In-depth analysis of world cup arm-folding better than it  sounds. Like a night out with John Terry, there’s a lot that can go wrong. GIF3b

And if you’re missing the world cup, here’s the New Yorker’s most memorable moments, complete with video.  And this is why Germany won.

I’m not entirely sure who Tom Brady is, but the bloke cannot get a high five from, well, anyone. Think he’s like an American Jimmy Cowan.

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One of the better cold Wednesday nights at Eden Park

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I’m not a regular Phoenix watcher, and I mainly use West Ham for ‘feeder club’ jokes with the inexplicably large contingent of NZ Irons fans on Twitter. But top flight English teams visiting New Zealand happens about as often as we win Rugby World Cups, generally, so I got my credit card out for this one as soon as I was able.

Fair play to the Welnix group – the odd BAU Gareth Morgan brain explosion aside, they’re showing measured ambition and are Trying Things to get their team and football growing sustainably. The official crowd figure was 19,100 odd, which seems a pass mark in Auckland on a freezing cold Wednesday, where people generally won’t go to Eden Park unless it’s the Blues v Crusaders in the Super Rugby final with a ‘three free hot dogs’ promo on.

Auckland gets few chances to get out to support top class football, and the atmosphere was extremely convivial, with a HUGE amount of West Ham  kit on display, among other clubs. There was a noisy West Ham contingent on the old terraces that stood for the duration, and a token Yellow Fever congregation at the other end of the ground (enforced separation?). I took my son for his first trip to Eden Park, and it seemed like many dads and lads were doing the same.

As for the match, from where I was sitting West Ham seemed a foot taller and a metre faster than the home team, they simply looked a level of professional athlete up.  For the first ten minutes I thought the Phoenix would go down four or five nil, but after a while the locals decided to play football, which they did admirably. West Ham obviously missed Andy Carroll – they had good chances, but the Phoenix’s superior finishing was the difference, with a couple of tremendous goals. Winston Reid looked Rio Ferdinand-like to me with his anticipation and time on the ball, he’s the real deal, no doubt. The first half was more entertaining than the second, and any feeling of pre-season low-key-ness was off set by some tasty tackles. It was most entertaining.

Only grumbles – seeing tickets at half the price I’d paid appear on Grab One the day before the match. I understand they needed to reach a number, but discounting like this leaves a sour taste in the mouth for the premium-paying earlybirds. And because it was pay per view there’s no way to go back and watch a replay, save for nefarious internet means. Could this be worked out in the future?

Read a more thorough run down at Fish Head mag via Sports Freak.

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One of the better cold Wednesday nights at Eden Park

Greatest GIF ever

fuk9dum

There is little doubt Miguel Herrera has been the star of the cup so far.

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Greatest GIF ever