Cricket match honours pilot
The team-mates of a Palmerston North man who died in an Iroquois crash reckon the "ultra-competitive bugger" would be pleased the annual cricket match dedicated to his memory has become a serious affair.
Flight Lieutenant Hayden Madsen, Flying Officer Dan Gregory and Corporal Ben Carson were killed when their Iroquois helicopter crashed 36 minutes after taking off from Ohakea Air Force Base on Anzac Day in 2010.
Both Flight Lieutenant Madsen and Flying Officer Gregory were keen cricketers and yesterday Freyberg and the Air Force XI fought out the Madsen Memorial Trophy at Ongley Park, Palmerston North.
The trophy - which is made of a helicopter rotor blade - has been contested in Twenty20 matches in 2011 and 2012, but this year the game was played over 50 overs as part of the Defence Force inter-services cricket tournament.
A colleague, team-mate and friend of Flight Lieutenant Madsen, air force Sergeant Darren Grant, said the match now had a place as a competitive fixture, rather than just an occasion for cheers and tears.
"The first two years of this were more celebration games, with a lot of the families involved.
"It's changed slightly in that it's pretty competitive out there this year."
The change would have pleased the man known affectionately as "Muds", Sergeant Grant said.
"He was the John McEnroe of air force cricket.
"Not in terms of swearing at umpires and that, but just the fact he was ultra-competitive.
"He had a lot of energy in his body and he loved his sporting toys. He put his heart and soul into sport and cricket into in the air force."
Freyberg veteran Dave Fulton had watched Flight Lieutenant Madsen as he developed into a mature medium-pace bowler and solid middle-order bat.
"He had the attitude of a massive fast bowler but in reality he bowled wee mediums.
"I'm pretty sure Hayden would be keen to play a game like this."
Madsen's widow, Kim, said the day was a neat way to remember her husband.
"The boys were sitting around in the sunshine having a barbecue and some brews after the game, which is perfect. It's great that it's become what it is."
The Freyberg boys had taken the day off work for the match and Manawatu and Central Districts representatives Bevan Small and Dane Cleaver also turned out for Freyberg. The Air Force XI chased down Freyberg's 226 with three wickets remaining.