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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

23rd Oct - Paint it Black

Final Day. I couldn’t sleep last night, but couldn’t work out why. It can’t have been because it was cup final eve, I’m too old for that and England were 12,000 miles away. I had a look at the bottle of orange Mountain Dew. Not only did it have the annual sugar cane crop of Fiji, it had caffeine in – when did sugary drinks start getting a caffeine hit as well?

Meantime, I had a tip last night to go over to Mission Bay. I decided that it would be a relaxing day of spending the morning. Its probably one of the most commercial seasides I've been to, with a row of cafes and shops along the front. Sunday morning there was very relaxed for the locals - a wander along the seafront, on a cycle, with the family and or dog, or a run, and then a leisurely breakfast certainly seems an ideal of spending the morning - perhaps with a good sports paper though - I've found that side of journalism somewhat lacking here. The World Cup may be the main event in town, but its not the only event, and you wonder how many pages sport gets normally. I caught the bus back into the city - the usually timely buses were running late and when it turned up, I think everyone on the bus was wearing black. Many were travelling into the city to get into Queen's Wharf fan zone for the final 9 hours later. Everyone but me and an old couple had to stand - maybe another 15 people on top of every seat on the bus.

Once back in town, during the couple of hours I'd been away, the world had turned black. Everyone it seemed wanted to show their allegience to to the cause. There seemed to be a nervous tension about the place, as people, queued for the Fanzones, walked up and down to see the build up, or start the pre-match drinking. ( The fanzone was shut at 3pm  - 6 hours before the start. )

I met with an ex-colleague from work, who been on his own Odyssey. He combined his with a family visit, and we found a not too busy bar to discuss the game, the likely outcome, our adventures in NZ and our next moves, career wise. On I caught the TV coverage in the bar, one of the presenters is a woman, Melody Anderson. She has credibility as she is an ex-flanker, and captain of the New Zealand Ladies team. She normally wears feminine ‘business attire’. For the Final she had a black sparkly cocktail dress, off the shoulder number – for a rugby game. It was like a BBC news presenter from the 50s.
We walked up the Fan Trail to the ground. This time it was really busy, with people who just wanted to be part of the day. There were people on the tops of roofs, holding parties outside their houses, busking, selling food and drink, and stilt walkers - I still can't understand why - outside Eden Park, people had come just to be near, to listen to the bands, to be part of it. (It reminded me a bit of the Welsh Grand Slam in 2005, were Cardiff was red as thousands of people poured into town from the valleys just to be there.
The game had loads of drama and controversy, and wasn't the procession to the winners ceremony that the All Blacks expected, or their fans demanded. You could feel the panic set in in the second half when the French pressurised the line - you could almost here oh no not again and there was some panicky substitutions, but they scraped home. Games on TV may need tries, but in the ground, this one didn't need them, the drama and suspense came from the closeness. Back in Auckland, by the Harbour the black shirts made it all seem really dark, but they were either very happy or very drunk and happy. It was the right result, over the course of the tournament, brilliant hosts and just about the best team in the tournament. Hopefully the next hosts will match their friendliness and hospitality.

The Final finished with Hayley Westerana singing ‘Now is the Hour’ a First World War Maori song. It reminded me of the last time I was at Eden Park, for the last test of the 2005 Lions Tour, when it was played as we left. I promised myself I would come back one day, and I did.

Paint it Black - Rolling Stones - downtown, everyone was partying, but it was dark and everyone wearing black gave it a really strange feel to it, and made the night seem really dark. Oh and the winners wore balck.

1 comment:

  1. Perfect description of the final and the atmosphere. Was in Auckland next day for the parade - everyone wearing black. The following day, Auckland was ablaze with colour as people reverted to "normal" beach and office wear.