Jason Pine is Radio Sport's former football commentator

Historic documentary on ground-breaking 1982 All Whites

New Zealand lost to Kuwait 1-2 in an elimination game marred by bad crowd behaviour at Mt Smart Stadium for the 1982 Soccer World Cup. Photo/Photosport
New Zealand lost to Kuwait 1-2 in an elimination game marred by bad crowd behaviour at Mt Smart Stadium for the 1982 Soccer World Cup. Photo/Photosport

In the morning's early hours, in a dimly lit motel room in Masterton, a 10-year-old boy on his summer holidays watches transfixed, as grainy pictures are beamed in from Singapore.

His recently-adopted heroes are about to take the last step on an incredible journey.

Over the past nine months, he has learned the names, faces and playing numbers of the New Zealand soccer team (because it was "soccer" back then), as they travelled the Road to Spain.

He can recite the results of all of New Zealand's matches and reel off the goalscorers.

He re-creates those goals in his backyard games.

His bedroom walls are adorned with posters of his idols - Steve Sumner, Wynton Rufer, Steve Woodin, Bobby Almond and his favourite, Grant Turner.

The All Whites have fired in him a love for the beautiful game, which will last his lifetime.

In this - the 15th game of a journey now etched into our history - they face China in a sudden-death playoff on supposedly neutral territory for a place at the 1982 World Cup.

As the game crawls agonisingly towards its conclusion, the young boy can't move. He is literally paralysed by equal parts fear and anticipation.

When the final whistle blows, he doesn't know what to do. He's too young to express true euphoria, but motel rooms right across the complex explode with delight, as do households up and down the country. You were probably in one of them.

The All Whites had overcome hostile crowds, corrupt officials and seemingly impossible obstacles to take their place, for the first time, at the biggest sporting event on the planet - the World Cup.

Why has this story never been told?

Why is there not an historical record with highlights of the 15 qualifying matches, and the games against Scotland, USSR and Brazil at the World Cup itself?

Behind-the-scenes footage? Interviews with the players and coaches?

Well, actually, there is.

It's called "'82 And All That" and has been put together by film-maker and football enthusiast Sa'id Milton.

This feature-length documentary tells the All Whites' story as you've never seen it before. Built around 25 original interviews and utilising archive footage from around the globe, it brings to life an epic underdog story and shines a light on our little corner of the world, during a seminal phase of our sporting history.

As with any project of this size, there are costs - significant ones - associated with bringing it to fruition. The two major areas are gaining clearances to use archival footage and post-production work to polish the finished product.

The approximate cost is $175,000.

That sounds like a lot - and it is - but let's break this down.

In November 2009, 38,000 people watched the All Whites emulate their 1982 predecessors and beat Bahrain 1-0 in Wellington to reach the 2010 World Cup.

You might have been there or watched on TV.

Let's say, for argument's sake, that half of that crowd were under 18, so we'll put them to one side.

That still leaves about 19,000 football supporters.

If each of them pledged just $10 to this cause, the 1982 documentary would become reality.

Ten dollars. It's nothing.

But added to all the other "nothings", it becomes something very significant.

And that's just those who were in Wellington that night, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of other football fans up and down this country, and living overseas.

You're surely in this group, otherwise you wouldn't have read down this far.

Your donation can be easily made online - just click the link at the bottom of this story and follow the simple commands.

It can be done from anywhere in the world, but if that's too difficult, I'll make this undertaking to you - I'll arrange to have the money collected from you, anywhere in New Zealand.

My email address is also at the bottom of this article, if you want to take me up on this.

Don't let this story remain untold. Play your part in bringing it to life.

Ten dollars.

The 10-year old me would have emptied his money-box to give whatever he could. Hopefully, you will, too.

Click here to donate.

Click here to find out more about the documentary and watch trailers:

- NZ Herald

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