Chris Rattue 's Opinion

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Geriatric Gong Machine outdoes itself

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John Reid. Photo / Brett Phibbs
John Reid. Photo / Brett Phibbs

This is a wild guess, but John R. Reid didn't get a New Year's gong upgrade for being a cricket match referee.

Which, by the forces of deduction, means he's been re-honoured in large part for a cricket career that ended about 50 years ago.

This is mind-boggling stuff. What happened? Did a load of retirement home crazies rise up and start a "Justice for John R. Reid" movement? Did they post sacks of letters urging a re-examination of Reid's 1962 OBE? "He's a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit if ever we've seen one - not that any of us can see all that well any more," they might have argued.

No one could ever accuse the New Zealand Gong Machine of forgetting the past. John R. Reid's career didn't just predate the internet age. It predates our television age, and the black and white television age at that.

Not all of this year's awards are retrospectively prehistoric. There was a decent nod to the present when Rita Fatialofa was gonged.

She won a world softball title a mere 30-odd years ago, and her netball career finished in the late 1980s, which is just like yesterday compared with when John R. Reid was flinging his linseed-soaked willow about. Runner Dick Tayler's 1974 Commonwealth Games heroics are so fresh he actually helped introduce the colour TV age.

And let's not forget Ross Norman - world squash champion in 1986. He's just received an MNZM callup which, on the Reid theory, means he'll be due an upgrade about 2034.

In the net, on the net This column's belated award for the sporting highlight of 2013 goes to soccer goals. Soccer has taken a quantum leap. Maybe it's the balls. Maybe it's the boots. Maybe it's the well-laid fields. Whatever the reason, you can watch any league in the world - apart from the A-league - and see goals every week that would have been goal-of-the-season candidates 30 or 40 years ago. Players make the ball dip and swerve at high speed from amazing distances and with incredible control. The age of celebrating the Ian Rush tap-in is well and truly over. With so many video cameras around, what ends up in the net ends up on the net no matter how obscure the match. Ashes to ashes Well done to Piers Morgan, the English newspaperman-turned-media identity who took one or six for the team, even though the team didn't ask him to. In an effort to put steel into England's hopeless Ashes campaign, Morgan faced up to the former Aussie fast bowler Brett Lee in the nets and took a broken rib and a lot of other bruising for his efforts. Technically speaking, Morgan proved that advancing up the wicket to a very fast bowler is asking for trouble, even if you are veering sharply towards mid-wicket. As for aiding the Ashes campaign, watching yet another English batsman falling on his face probably hasn't done all that much for Captain Cook's men.

Halberg hoo-hah Much as I'd love to weigh into the Halberg Awards debate, this annual apples and oranges comparison game leaves me cold. There is no point in deciding whether Lydia Ko's remarkable golfing exploits are somehow better than Valerie Adams' conquering of the shot put world. Kieran Read v Scott Dixon - as if there is any logical way of comparing them. It's a complete waste of energy that culminates in the bizarre sight of a stuffy, formal dress occasion that is at complete odds with what most of the people involved are all about.

Passing of an icon Sad to hear that Alan Richards, an iconic Auckland radio sports commentator, has passed away, aged 91. His specialties were cricket and soccer, sports he excelled in as a player. For many summers, he was the sound of Auckland cricket. Richards could get quite grumpy with the poor performers, one of his endearing calling cards.

Ko and Williams: power couple A wish for 2014: Steve Williams does a turn as Lydia Ko's caddie. This would give Ko a serious boost as she enters the professional world and create Kiwi golf's first power couple. No caddie knows how to get his golfer on a winning track like Tiger Woods' former bagman. Busy as he is with Aussie Adam Scott, he might consider a couple of guest appearances.

- NZ Herald

Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Read more by Chris Rattue

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