Monday, October 24, 2011

Three Disasters and a Triumph

It's been a tough year for New Zealand but last night was a chance to celebrate when the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup. After a run of disasters (Pike River mine, Christchurch earthquake and the Rena grounding/oil spill) it's a great morale boost to the country for the national team of the most popular sport in NZ to become world champions.

There were a few disasters along the way for All Blacks too. After Dan Carter was injured they had to call on the reserve of the reserve of the reserve after two of his replacements were also injured. Luckily there are plenty of rugby players in New Zealand and Stephen Donald stepped in and kicked a penalty to keep the All Blacks a hair's breadth in front of France. Even though I'm not really a rugby fan I was desperately hoping the mighty All Blacks could hold onto their lead in the face of an equally mighty challenge by the French. A one point lead was all they needed for a win and a one point lead was what it took to win the World Cup: All Blacks 8 - France 7.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Squash Legends

This weekend was the Te Awamutu Squash Club 50 Years Reunion - a celebration for the club and a chance to reminisce with many people who have enjoyed squash over the years.

Yesterday there was a fun tournament with a twist - we had to play with old rackets. Amazingly there were a few 30 year old rackets still in one piece that we were able to use. Many of us 'masters' learned to play using a wooden racket. In my case I had a really flash racket when I started, a Dunlop Maxply, which had a wooden head with a fibreclass shaft. It was the latest technology at the time. I had forgotten that the old rackets had towelling grips. After a while the grips got hard and scratchy, just like old towels, and if you didn't replace the grip soon enough you'd end up with a blister on your thumb. We all laughed at how small the heads of the rackets were and how heavy the old rackets were - but we all learned to play the game and some players even became squash legends.

Last night we acknowledged some of the legends. Ross Collins who has won the Men's Championship 23 times and can still thrash the up and coming young whipper-snappers. Les Brain who was a founding member 50 years ago, has contributed in many ways to the club and who is still playing competitive squash. And Susan Devoy who, though never a Te Awamutu Club member, is an inspiration to squash players everywhere - she won the World Championship four times and the British Open 8 times. Oh, and she walked the entire length of New Zealand for charity. She was kind enough to be our guest speaker and turned up even though Peter Leitch (AKA the Mad Butcher) had offered to take her to Sydney to watch the Warriors play in the NRL final today. I was glad to know that Susan has her priorities right and that her loyalties still lie with squash.