Black Sticks' biggest fans

KELVIN TEIXEIRA
Last updated 10:29 09/08/2012
Finlayson

GO CAT GO: Finlayson family members are supporting the Black Sticks women, featuring Cathryn Finlayson, in their Olympic campaign. From left, Cathryn’s brother Sean, 16, father Colin, brother Connor, 13, aunt Wendy Clifton, cousin Jacob Hogg, 11, mother Sonya, uncle and aunt Mike and Maria Hogg, and brother Rodger.

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Black Sticks striker Cathryn Finlayson's family are probably Levin's most passionate supporters of the New Zealand women's hockey team during their Olympic Games campaign.

The Finlaysons invited the Horowhenua Mail to watch the team's last pool game on Monday night, a scoreless draw against third-ranked Germany that saw the Black Sticks make history by reaching their first Olympic semifinal.

The Black Sticks went down 3-1 to the world number one Dutch side in a penalty shootout this morning in London, after a 2-2 draw at the end of extra time, and will face Great Britain in the bronze medal playoff.

Sitting around a makeshift "stadium" of dining table chairs in front of the television on Monday night, the crowd was passionate and vocal, with plenty of debate about the rules of the game and state of play.

Shouts of "Go Cat, get in there", "awesome work", "c'mon girls, we just want one goal!", punctuated proceedings.

Cathryn's mother, Sonya, said if the Black Sticks make the final, the family have been invited to a local sports club to watch it on a big screen.

"They asked if we'd be able to handle watching the game in public. I asked whether the public would handle watching it with us."

Mrs Finlayson said they felt close to the excitement of the Games, with phone, email and text updates from their daughter.

"She'll call us after they've had their cool-down following each game and we can follow her updates on Facebook," she said.

"Some of the girls have been on a mission to get their photos taken with famous athletes. Cat's managed to get her arms around Usain Bolt and have photos taken twice now. She's having fun."

Cathryn's father, Colin, said these Olympic Games had been the most successful for the Black Sticks women.

"Just being there is unreal but they've played brilliantly every game and you can't fault that."

Mrs Finlayson said the sixth-ranked Black Sticks were in what had been described as "the pool of death". "But we did some damage to that pool of death."

That included a 1-nil win over Australia and then beating South Africa 4-1, before a 2-1 loss to Argentina, followed by a 3-2 win over the United States and then the nil-all draw against Germany.

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- Horowhenua Mail

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