Trevor Manning carried a painful reminder of his gold medal-winning feats for 37 years.
Now, finally, the three pieces of wire holding the former goalie's knee together can be added to the historical record of New Zealand's 1976 Olympic hockey team.
On Wednesday, Manning had a double knee replacement at Wellington Hospital, the final price of his famous save during New Zealand's 1-0 final win against Australia in Montreal.
"I've had the wire in the left one where I broke it, all these years, and they've taken that out so I've got a souvenir out of it," the 67-year-old said yesterday as he recovered in ward 6.
"It was broken right on top of the knee, a pretty clean break.
"They just put a wire in there, gave it a couple of twists and we moved on from there. That was in 1976." Manning remembers the moment Australian Ian Cooke's shot shattered his knee 15 minutes from fulltime like it was yesterday.
"We mostly wore the old grasshopper pads of cricketers," he recalled. "They brought out a skeleton pad . . . with this bamboo sort of thing but it wasn't like pads today, you just can't compare.
"What happened is they opened at the knee. There were about three strips of padding there, but once you bent your knee it just opened up and there was no padding at all.
"I got it right on the bone from a guy called Ian Cooke."
Manning played on and New Zealand hung on after Tony Ineson had earlier scored the only goal of the final.
In the years since, Manning's knee got progressively worse to the point the retired wharfie could barely walk around the block.
"With the arthritis in there, it's been bone on bone for years . . .
"I wouldn't say it's solely down to that injury but like any injury with sports people it degenerates over time and I'm getting older.
"The kneecap is still there.
"They've scraped the arthritis out. I'm not too sure, I'm not too up on the medical part of it.
"Hopefully I can get out and walk around the block now . . . But when you get to this age, you expect these things."
Doctors decided to replace his other knee as well, which also bore the brunt of the goalie's moves, but the remnants of 1976 brought the memories back.
"There is a sports hall of fame down there in Dunedin with a goal and one thing and another; they've got my pads and the broken cast off my knee, so no doubt I'll put the wire down there one of these days too."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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