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Dennis Lillee and John Newcombe. I dreamed of opening the bowling for Australia, and winning Wimbledon. True, I achieved neither, but I did once get a very useful 2 wickets for 8 for the Knox Grammar School's Under14 C team, and I also once took a set off Julian Lovell in Fifth Form. And he went on to be AT LEAST one of the top ten tennis players of the Sixth Form at Knox Grammar.
All Black TERRY LINEEN, test cricketer BERT SUTCLIFFE and the world champion middle-distance runner PETER SNELL
From soccer it was Leeds and Juventus' 'Il Gigante Buono', Swansea born John Charles. From rugby, it was former Swansea, Wales and British Lion wing threequarter Dewi Bebb. By chance, we became work colleagues at HTV Wales in years to come. When I commentated on the final of the Rugby World Cup in South Africa in 1995, Dewi was directing back in Cardiff. At the end of transmission, he opened all the microphones and declared that was his finest hour in broadcasting. Thousands of miles away in Jo'burg I shed a tear. Nine months later he passed away. I cried.
Hawkes Bay's Cyril Brownlie is sent off at Twickenham but the 'Invincible' All Blacks still fight hard with 14 men for a 17-11 win over England.
It was with great sadness but with a sense of inevitability that the famous Athletic Park ground in Wellington, New Zealand was pulled down in 2000. For over 100 years it had been known as the ‘Home of Rugby in New Zealand’.
Situated in the base of a high-sided valley running down to Cook Strait, Athletic Park was always in an exposed position, and was battered many times over the years by ferocious Wellington winds. The salty spray contributed to decay in the metallic stability of the double-tiered Millard Stand and after much local angst a decision was made to abandon the site for rugby and move to a new stadium in the city area of Wellington.
While there were many famous days on the superb playing surface, for both Wellington and All Black rugby, it is for its most infamous bad weather days that many remember Athletic Park most fondly.
The worst came in 1961 when the Wellington Rugby Union’s new pride and joy – the Millard Stand – was being ofﬁcially opened on the day of the France v New Zealand match. The southerly storm that weekend brought in winds gusting up to 80 mph (140 km/h) – one of the worst days in Wellington’s history. A large luxury liner, the Canberra, was so buffeted in Cook Strait that the ship could not enter the harbour, just a few miles away. Yet in this tempest a test match was played!
New Zealand won 5–3, with Don Clarke, the All Black fullback, kicking a sideline conversion that travelled across the wind in a crazy curving arc.
Athletic Park has also had its moments in the mud, no more so than in 1977 when the British Lions played the New Zealand Juniors. Not a single player from either side could be recognised at the end of the game.
But Athletic Park could be as effective a playing location as anywhere in the world and on its many top days, presented a ﬂat true ground and seating for the fans that was always close to the action. The record attendance was the 57,000 who crammed in to watch the second test between New Zealand and the British Isles in 1959.
New Zealand played its ﬁrst home test match at Athletic Park, against Great Britain in 1904. In the 1980s the All Blacks scored some handsome wins on the ground, including 42–15 v England in 1985, 46–15 v Argentina in the World Cup in 1987, and 49–12 v Argentina in 1989. In 1992 New Zealand beat a strong World XV 54–26 and in 1997 they posted the highest test score on the ground, beating Argentina by 93-8.
In its last years it became obvious that the facilities which are needed to service a modern rugby match were not all present at Athletic Park. It had very poor players’ changing rooms; there was one shabby function room and no permanent corporate boxes. And though there were some fierce debates about the ground’s future, the advantages of a new stadium in the city were overwhelming. The last test match was played on June 1999. Fittingly the All Blacks gave the old ground a great send off, beating France 54-7.
On the Teen Rugby Show on TV in New Zealand (on 18 July 2006) which All Black used the words; 'bugger, shit, shits and shithouse' in a five minute item.