It is an easy read with 50 short chapters ranking events and curiosities.
Most of the chapters are light-hearted and based on folklore; for example Peter Plumley-Walker gets a chapter, as does O for Orsum, Buck Shelford’s testicle, and Jerry Collins having a wee; Bill English in the boxing ring even gets a mention. Fun fact out of the Plumley-Walker story was that Renee Chignall later opened a cricket-themed dungeon called “The Corridor of Uncertainty”.
However, it also tackles some of the bigger issues such as contact with Apartheid era South Africa. In 1960 the touring squad was picked “by using a Dulux colour chart”.
And this chilling quote from Ron Don following the 1981 tour. “We won. We beat the protestors, we beat the media, and most important of all we beat the Springboks.”
The chapters are interspersed with various lists such as worst team nicknames and mascots where Captain Hurricane rightfully takes top spot. The Top 10 Rugby Parks of New Zealand is a highlight.
Each event is summarised followed by a “Why It’s Shit” section, which is where most of the best lines appear.
Naturally there is a chapter for every All Black RWC exit as well as for every example of Australia cheating at cricket, but it also includes lesser known stories like the Kiwis losing to South Africa at Carlaw Park in the 1960s.
The chapter on the history of the Football Kingz / Knights rightfully pointed out that it all started with the awful name and branding, and just got worse after that. We tend to block that era from our memories, but it’s worth reliving it.
While here is an element of toilet humour throughout, there are some great lines. On North Harbour’s spectacularly mediocre and brief Ranfurly Shield tenure:
“Harbour has put in three decades of spectacular mediocrity, failing to achieve much of anything apart from ending Jeff Wilson’s coaching career”
Followed by “The victory parade was attended by a sparse smattering of yoga mums and fitness trainers”
On the pot-smoking cricketers in South Africa, and all the team ructions hat followed: “For a tour to start so promisingly to be derailed by a single joint is pretty shit.”
Without giving too much away the number 1 moment is a recent one involving a Super Over. And every single contributing factor is covered.
This book will bring back memories, but it will also provide enough new tales and sidebars to keep you reading. And with Christmas not that far away….