There is little doubt that sport plays a big part in shaping the mood of our province, and nation.
Consequently, emotions have been on a rollercoaster ride during a busy 2013. Our sportswriting team of Peter Jones and Clay Wilson offer their opinions and recollections of events that shaped the 2013 sporting year.
Moments that made me proud to be a Kiwi and a Marlburian: The Marlborough Boys' College First XV winning the Press Cup over Nelson College at a rainswept Lansdowne Park, the most memorable "Marlborough rugby moment" for several years; the Makos holding on to claim the ITM Cup championship at Trafalgar Park, just reward for a team that played with dash and a desire to entertain; watching on the computer as the NZ under-23 eight, containing our own Tom Murray, won gold at the world rowing champs; seeing Lydia Ko take the golfing world by storm.
Moments that made me smile: Visits from the ever-entertaining rising squash star Megan Craig; when I heard West Coast had won rugby's Seddon Shield from Nelson Bays; watching Richie McCaw at work; hearing both Ryan and Kurt Schollum had made the first Black Sox squad of the season; Marty Banks' 2013 highlight reel.
Moments that made me cringe: Listening to the increasingly negative commentary of TV One's Martin Tasker as our America's Cup sailors tried to hold off the Oracle comeback; hearing a clearly-delusional Gareth Morgan offer to give $5m to NZ Football . . . if the whole board resigns; watching Morgan's Phoenix side in action; watching the careers of David Tua and Shane Cameron end (hopefully); realising another year has just flown by.
Personal highlights: Helping to organise the revamped Marlborough Sports Awards and watching it become a success; seeing Makos coaches Kieran Keane and Leon MacDonald get their just reward; interviewing our world class junior rowers about their medal-winning performances; chatting to Lily O'Fagan after she won her first national tennis title; catching up with Graeme Miller and Alan Sutherland, two world-class Marlborough athletes.
Moments that made me proud to be a Kiwi and a Marlburian: My old school Marlborough Boys' College beating arch-rivals Nelson College in the Press Cup first XV rugby final at Lansdowne Park, absolutely superb; the Makos deservedly winning the ITM Cup championship in front of their home crowd, any other result would have been unjust given the way they entertained and executed throughout the competition; seeing young basketballer Steven Adams foot it with the big boys in the NBA, one of the world's hardest leagues to crack.
Moments that made me smile: Watching MBC skipper Atunaisa Moli lift the Press Cup; the proud looks on the faces of Makos coaches Kieran Keane and Leon MacDonald shortly after they had wrapped up the title; the Marty Banks story, did anyone have a better 2013? the Joe Wheeler dummy and chip 'n' chase against Hawke's Bay; any time Marlborough beat Nelson, in anything; Ryan Crotty's last-minute match-winning try for the All Blacks against Ireland.
Moments that made me cringe: The Makos awful loss to North Harbour, although it was a turning point in Tasman's season, the Black Caps being dominated by Bangladesh; the Phoenix in front of goal; every race Team NZ lost after they had built an 8-1 lead to take match point in the America's Cup; Hawke's Bay first five-eighth Ihaia West lining up the potential match-winning conversion with time up on the clock in the final against the Makos.
Personal highlight: Meeting and interviewing cricket legend Shane Warne, hard to top that; covering the entire Makos and MBC first XV seasons; interviewing Kieran Keane and Atunaisa Moli at their homes in Waikawa and Blenheim to reflect on their huge years; being part of the new Marlborough Sports Awards, a superb night; travelling to Dunedin and back with the MBC first XV and watching their South Island final against Otago Boys' High at Forsyth Barr Stadium, even if the result didn't go our way.
We wish all our readers a merry Christmas, especially those from the supporting community who have helped us bring the news to you during 2013.
Our broad coverage of so many sports would not be possible without the tireless efforts of those involved in various organisations who work with us to get the news out there.
At the risk of overlooking some of those who have helped out, and apologies if we have, we decided to name those people who have made our work easier over the past 12 months by providing information on a regular basis.
They are, in no particular order: cycling guru Graham Henderson, equestrian's Heidi Bulfin and Angie Exton, cricket boss Ed Gilhooly, table tennis correspondent Chris Hood; Lloyd Gallop and Graham Hood from bowls; Darrell Bate from speedway; sailing's Rob Burn and Christel Hopkins; football's Alan Kelly, Stu Prattley, Gary Roberts and Nigel Thompson; softball scorers Ian Ditford and Di Tulloch; touch correspondents Anne Thompson and Bek Galloway; netball's evergreen Di Woolf; college co-ordinators Jan Gallop, Bridget Gane and Gary Timms; tennis man Brett Forgesson; harriers' and athletics' Tracey Sims, Les McKay and Steff Southey; Eric Percy from indoor bowls; Anthea Stringer from the indoor centre; cyclocross' Mondo Kopua; event folk Duncan Mckenzie, Pete Halligan, Peter Yarrell and Mark Grammer; volleyball's Alvyn Meiklejohn; Jac Taylor from basketball; gymnastics' Tony Quirk; Jock Woodley from motorcycling; rugby's Jo Young and Gareth Archer; car club's Jim Vause; rep and interclub golf Kerry Fyfe and all those who supply weekly golf notes; Barry Forbes at the racecourse; shooters Keith van Asch, Malcolm Dodson and Gavin Hadfield; sailing's Caroline Foote; Lorraine McMath from swimming; rowing's Roseanne Marsden, Dave Williamson and Bill Campbell, plus the athletes themselves who kept in touch via email from all over the world.
Your efforts are hugely appreciated by us, one hopes your sporting bodies feel the same way.
Once again, it's been a pleasure reporting on the accomplishments of Marlborough's sporting community.
Catch you in 2014,
- The Marlborough Express