Ric Salizzo has probably done more for your enjoyment of sport than you realise. Starting as a TV reporter and All Blacks media officer, he’s produced everything from the ground breaking The Good, The Bad and The Rugby documentary from the All Blacks 1989 Wales and Ireland tour through to today’s The Crowd Goes Wild. He’s responsible for making New Zealand sport vastly more interesting, and funny, than it was before.
And he’s posting the best bits to Instagram, including the best of SportsCafe, the midweek monster that gave the nation some of our most iconic TV moments.
It was like nothing else that came before it, and put sporting regulars like Eric Rush and Zinzan Brooke alongside Lana Coc-Kroft, Graeme Hill (fresh out of BFM), Eva the Bulgarian, Leigh Hart and Salizzo himself, bemusedly and barely holding it all together, despite the best efforts of Marc Ellis, scarfie icon and the show’s jester.
It was wonderful TV, with sportspeople in much more relaxed conversation than the breathless pre- and post-match carry on, in times before media training etc. It also pioneered audience participation through Legends of the Lounge and National Nude Day in the pre-smartphone and internet era where people would have to mail in video cassettes.
Anyway – Ric is posting some of the best bits to Instagram and they’re wonderful. Here’s a top five:
George Best and Zinzan Brooke talk about trying things in matches – spanning continents, codes and generations, two extremely gifted and singular sportsmen talk about trying the outrageous in matches, and not letting anything stop you putting on a show.
All-in mascot brawl, with Frank Bunce – what else are mascots for, really? Just give the public what they want.
Marc Ellis boots a ball into the crowd – Ellis was MASSIVE in the 90s, moving from rugby to TV with a run of shows giving him a platform for his set-jaw comedy and fondness for taking his clothes off in public. He’d sometimes turn up drunk and push the good taste / health and safety line very hard indeed.
That guy – Leigh Hart is a national treasure, and got his start on the show with his band and skits, adding a deeply weird layer to the sport chat that shouldn’t have worked, but really, really did.
Lana slaps Marc – if you’d had enough of Ellis’ shit, this one was for you. Looked like it hurt, too.
Bonus link: Zinzan rides a donkey from The Good, The Bad and The Rugby. Features the All Blacks in the late 80s holy trinity of boat shoes, knitwear and moustaches.