Sporting turkeys of 2012

NZ Cricket's Chris Moller and David White make the turkeys of 2012 list.
NZ Cricket's Chris Moller and David White make the turkeys of 2012 list.

For every movie hero there's a villain and in this regard, the sporting world is not too dissimilar to Hollywood.

Mike Hesson
The baby-faced assassin. Hesson bared his teeth in Sri Lanka, informing Ross Taylor days before the first test he was recommending he be removed as captain, setting in chain one of New Zealand sport's great Whosaidwhats. Was Taylor to be removed from all three forms of the game, or just the limited overs ones? The suspicion was the original intention was to strip Taylor of all captaincy duties, but that became untenable when he scored 146 and 74 to play a huge role in helping his team to a rare test win at Colombo. Unless you're inside the team environment, it is impossible to know whether Hesson made the right call. What we do know is that it was handled with insensitivity and he was then left swinging in the wind by his bosses at New Zealand Cricket. An unseemly end to another disappointing year for cricket. As for Hesson, unless he coaches a team that suddenly starts winning a lot of matches, you can't see it being a lengthy tenure.

Pat Lam
What's the former Blues coach doing here? Oh yes, Blues, played 16, won four, finished 12. That's right. The franchise from the biggest catchment area in the country managed wins over just the Bulls (in the republic, go figure), the hopeless Lions, Western Force and Brumbies. Nine of the first 10 Super rugby games were lost. By that point, any hope of making the playoffs had disappeared out of sight. Injuries didn't help Lam's prospects, neither did his neon-lit signings, Ma'a Nonu and Piri 'Puffing Billy' Weepu. Nonu, you could argue, didn't do a lot wrong; he just didn't do a lot. He also arrived late from Japan, a bad sign from the outset. Weepu was unfit and, like Nonu, appeared disinterested. A Wainuiomata transplant, a homesick Weepu showed his colours by nipping back to the Wellington suburb to play club footy at every chance. New coach John Kirwan has promised "a roller-coaster" next year. Good luck.

Ricki Herbert
It's one thing to take a team to the Solomon Islands and get beaten in the semifinals by a country with a population just nudging above a quarter-million, it's altogether another to be called boring by your club owner. So Gareth Morgan might not have actually called Herbert boring, but the inference was crystal clear - he doesn't like the way the Phoenix go about their playing business because it's hard to attract people to the stadium when you set a team p first and foremost not to lose. The crowds at Westpac Stadium are dwindling and, as the cricketers can tell you, it's not a pleasing ground on the eye when there is a sea of yellow seats. We're picking the man once named the world's seventh-best manager - and on another occasion dubbed Edvin Jurisevic courtesy of a TV caption - will not be best pleased about taking advice from an economist. But he should heed the golden rule: those who have the gold, make the rules.

Chris Moller and David White
Exhibits B and C in the Taylor debacle. White got caught on the hop - well, in Dubai to be exact -when the news of Taylor's impending demise started to leak. His response upon return could at best be described as shaky and unsure. He received precious little help from the man who employed him, board chairman Chris Moller. Having been through a similar experience post-2003 Rugby World Cup as NZRU chief executive, he would have remembered that chairman Jock Hobbs was on his right shoulder when he effectively bladed John Mitchell as All Black coach the day after their semifinal defeat to Australia. When he finally did front the press this time, he further inflamed a sensitive situation by referencing "additional material" he could not comment on.

David Currie
Dave Currie's reign as New Zealand's Olympic and Commonwealth Games man on the spot is over. 'Haka' Dave, as he came to be known, was spotted trying to get a war dance going in the stands at Eton Dorney as New Zealand were running up their haul of five rowing medals in July. It didn't reach first base, a far cry from Currie's earlier renditions, going back to Athens, Melbourne, Beijing and Delhi. An enthusiastic chef de mission, Currie departed with a flea in the ear from double gold medallist Val Adams. She gave him a spray for a haka done to mark her gold in Beijing four years ago, at 2am. Currie also got a black mark for dropping athletics manager Raelene Bates in it in London over the entry botch up for Adams and middle distance runner Lucy van Dalen into their events. It got fixed, but Bates was left exposed. Bottomline: it had been on Currie's watch.

Swim team
Okay, okay, stand down Lauren Boyle, you don't deserve tainting after a breakthrough year, but the rest of you, sorry. As athletes, you haven't been particularly well served by your administrators, but London was pretty embarrassing all the same. Two 'A' finals, both from Boyle, is a long way short of what was required from high-performance athletes. Some of the excuses, particularly the one about it being hard to back up in both morning and night sessions, bordered on ridiculous. Swimming has lost its targeted status in the latest round of Government funding, but has still managed to wangle significant campaign cash for next year. It would be nice to think somebody other than Boyle will emerge as someone worthwhile to invest in. For a country surrounded by water, we've sure forgotten how to move swiftly through it.

Jaime Ridge and Rosanna Arkle
Coming up with sporting events with less merit than the 'boxing' match between these two wannabe reality TV stars ain't an easy exercise. Put it this way, cricket test matches in Dunedin that were rained off without a ball being bowled have provided more entertainment than this tawdry spectacle. Arkle, a 'star' (there simply aren't enough inverted commas available for this piece) of The GC had precisely two things going for her, and they were stuck to the front of her chest. Howard Dobson (see *) certainly struggled to get them off his mind. As for Ridge, well, er, no it's just not worth it. Dean Lonergan and David Higgins, the blokes who staged the 'fight' copped plenty of flak, but the real turkeys were the people who paid to watch it. After one round of frankly awful girlie slaps the Herald's correspondent found himself wishing he was sitting next to a field in dear Dunners watching the rain tumble down.

BJ Anthony
If you play for a basketball club, the Breakers, who proudly run their Christian ideals up the flag, it pays to be squeaky clean. It's not as if Anthony had to look far for advice, having seen his mate Corey Webster stacking supermarket shelves after toking on some over-the counter astroturf. Anthony had just about paid his penance for a drink driving incident on the night of the Rugby World Cup final when he turned up to a practice session in February and was, in hangover language, unable to contribute fully. Let's be fair to the guy, this was hardly an incident that would have made the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah blush, but you've got to know your surroundings. Anthony was on a fast track to success at the best-run franchise in New Zealand sport. Where is he now exactly?

Brian McClennan
It's hard not to have a soft spot for Bluey. His pedigree and passion for league could not be faulted and that way he had of speaking as if the turntable was playing a 45 record on 33rpm made him seem like an everyman-made good. The only fly in the ointment was he struggled to win NRL games. Worse, his players looked, there's no other word for it, unfit. Scuttlebutt started to leak out that McClennan had skimped on the pre-season fitness drills in favour of ball-work. Whatever the facts, McClennan and Stephen Kearney had great opportunities to show that New Zealanders really could coach at NRL level and both failed miserably. Bluey's failings just happened to occur much closer to home.

Howard Dobson
"It's just staggering, what happened," a distraught Dobbo blubbed during a radio interview the day after Shane Cameron was out thought and out-muscled by Danny Green in his IBO world title tilt. Dobbo's meltdown became an internet sensation, with hard-bitten journos nationwide also struggling to keep back the tears - of laughter. The image of the "mass media" bursting into the changing room after the fight before Cameron had a chance to fully console Dobbo was just too much to take. Coming hard on the heals of Dobbo's breast protection obsession* - "We've got to ask: Were you instructed by Monty to hit her breast? All you had to do was hit her on the breast and I tell you, it would have been all over in five seconds"- during the Arkle v Ridge spectacle, it seems Dobbo just wasn't cut out to be a boxing reporter. Still, perhaps there's a case of giving Dobbo a bit of leeway here. After all, tonight is the last edition of his TV3 baby, Sports Tonight. So long Dobbo, you'll be missed... kind of.

Owen Glenn and Eric Watson
As vision statements go, the picture of what the Warriors were about to become was impressive. State of the art facilities, multiple titles, a production line that regularly churned out athletes so gifted they make Michael Jordan look like a gimp, scholarships for the needy, a club shop with merchandise lines that Man United would envy, and anti-gravity thingies for all. Never mind that the team had been looking just a bit crappy this season, Bluey and the boys would turn things around against the Knights on Saturday night. Oh dear. When Glenn and Watson spelled out their dreams in mid July the Warriors had won eight and lost nine. Not great, but not disastrous. Everyone has a theory as to what went wrong - a poor pre-season, too many youngsters, a coach that was too soft - but after that love-in at Sky City the team went 0-7. Sometimes its time to talk turkey, other times it's just turkeys talking.

Andrew Hore
Seal shooter turned w(h)ale walloper. The All Blacks test against Wales was not among the veteran hooker's finest occasions in black. The peep had barely quietened from referee Craig Joubert's whistle when 'Horey', as his chums affectionately know him, stepped up to make it a night to savour. Making their way to a ruck, Welsh lock Bradley Davies crossed his path twice and Horey did what he felt was right. The swinging right arm from behind, clobbered Davies, then on the way down he gave him a bang with a knee to his bonce for good measure. The crowd erupted, more so when the incident was replayed repeatedly on the big screens. He got a five-game suspension. But in rugby's best nonsensical ways, three of the five are Highlanders warm-up games, which Horey
would probably have watched from the stand anyway. He should have joined Cyril Brownlie and Colin Meads as the only All Blacks to be sent off in a test. If he'd acted that way in Queen St on a Friday night, he'd have been in the lockup. But this is rugby, this is the All Blacks, so we move on.

- NZ Herald

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