I was a normal happy go lucky and physical being. I started playing sport as soon as I found I could kick a ball or wield a bat. My early days were playing soccer for Lumsden District School and dabbling in cricket. I played more for enjoyment and not to be the best I could be. That was in 1964-66. Dad represented Southland in cricket and played in the local rugby competition and he was keen to get all of us doing the same - but never pressured to excel, enjoyment first
We shifted to Dunedin, and Dad continued his sporting ways and we kids just wanted to potter around at North East Valley School. I think I spent more time in music class than on the fields of dreams.
In 1967 we shifted to Arthurs Pass and no amenities for field sports. But there were mountains and mountains were there to be conquered - and conquered they were, My neighbour and brother and myself also had a lucrative possum trapping business running so fitness wasn't an issue. Swimming was done in the very cold Bealey River.
My next foray into school sport was playing rugby in Kaitaia. We lived up the Peria Valley inland from Taipa and our district school. We bussed every saturday morning to Kaitaia to play other schools. The first time I played in earnest and with bare feet (as it is in the wops)
We arrived in Palmerston North in 1968 and I played cricket and football for Roslyn Primary and Ross Intermediate. I opened the batting and bowled medium pacers and our team won most matches. Football (or soccer) I was Goalkeeper and I think pretty ok for a gangly goofy footer.
I progressed out of there to school at Palmerston North Boys High School. I went back to rugby but being 60 odd kilos I was too light to play in a higher grade (weighted selections) so ended up playing No 8 for two years, and then fullback in Form 5. I well remember our very first game, flogged 95 nil by a Feilding Ag School. Last game of the season we won 27-19 against that same side. Probably my most treasured sporting endeavour. I also played 2nd XI cricket for two years and was about to be promoted to 1st XI but didn't get in due some geezer called Ian Stockley Smith (Blackcap) so I quit school cricket and played Grade cricket in my Dads team, and that was frightening but I did take up the challenge scoring a fighting 56 in one match.
Sadly school was behind me. But joining the Navy became a new playground for sports mad me. I must say all those days of early sporting endeavour garnished well my hunger for more representation. And the best, as many have alluded to, the variety available. I soon settled to do games when and where they became. Being mostly in the Survey Navy, sporting opportunities were few and far between. Once however I made it to Monowai - doors to sporting endeavour opened, ever so slightly mind you. I played Intership Rugby, Hockey and Soccer as well as playing all teams on overseas deployments in the Islands. My preferred position in rugby was Openside, but later progressed to Fullback and occasionally wing. Playing with and against Buck Shelford and many other fine Navy players of the era, will always be cherished.
In 1986 I played rugby in the Nelson Bays Senior competition with club team Riwaka with another seven shipmates off Takapu and Tarapunga, based in Motueka. Played 1st five mostly in day games and moved to fullback for night games. Still remember those chilly practices. Regrettably our participation was curtailed by one of the guys broken leg and CO deemed we stopped. Mucho fun though. I also featured in a couple of games for Navy Firsts in NH comp at fullback.
In 1987 - 1991 I played regularly for Navy Seniors cricket in the Auckland Senior A comp. I was a useful player but never would be better, I think I just liked the fun of it all.
Two crowning achievements for me. Being in Monowai's Royalist Shield volleyball side which held the shield for many tenures in the early 80's. Unbeatable for a long time.
But my absolute number one sporting achievement didn't take place on a sporting field and definitely not a ball sport. In 1979 - 1983 on Monowai we had a strong Darts Team and we played just about every night at sea. In1983 I played recreational darts for Northcote Darts Club and was coerced into joining Birkenhead's RSA club team and we travelled all over Auckland playing other chartered clubs and RSA's. Eventually I entered the Working Mens Clubs Dart competition in the hopes of going on to win the competition. And yep - made the finals and won handsomely, with the reward of representing Auckland at that years Nationals in Rotorua. Buoyed with my win I applied to have sports leave to attend in August. I was turned down - reason given - not a recognised sport. Still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Oh well.
I also managed to win on the golf course (Simpson Drummond Cup 1992) and administrator of the year two years running for golf as Club Captain. I also introduced many new ideas to foster excellence in Golf. Highlight for golf for me was Interrservices in Blenheim in mid 1990's as Manager.
And along the way right through this journey I won a lot of pool and darts competitions.
Once invalided out of the Navy, I moved to Foxton and ended up playing cricket for Foxton Prezzies in Horowhenua competition, lots of fun and satisfying sporting endeavour. I had one season as the All Rounder before my accident and now any sport is on the telly or a visit to a park.
I forgot one important physical facet I excelled at in my early days - running. In my BCT/BBT days I won a lot of road races, even scoring a 9 minute 57 two mile peg, which wasn't too shabby and I was almost always running too and from work. Those early days we had to wear our Bata Bullet gym shoes, I shucked them and ran barefeet. Later days on Monowai I was a Hash House Harrier so my two passions - running and drinking, were both well sated.