Friendly rivals out of brutal tragedy

Police versus Fire match

BROOKE GARDINER IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 12:04 07/02/2013
Southland Times photo
BROOKE GARDINER/Fairfax NZ
Queenstown Volunteer Fire Brigade cricket team organiser Dave Christie and Queenstown police cricket match organiser Steve Watt are ready for the annual match.

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Confidence is high in both camps, but there will be only one winner of the annual cricket clash between Queenstown police and fire service volunteers next weekend.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the highly contested match, which started following the 1987 murder of Arrowtown resident Maureen McKinnel.

Queenstown Volunteer Fire Brigade member and cricket match organiser Dave Christie said the match started after police and fire crews had the grisly task of recovering the body of Mrs McKinnel from the Arrow River.

"It was a bit of a horrible job and one of the cops did a runner because he couldn't handle it so we decided it would be a good thing to create a bit of camaraderie between the two services rather than just seeing each other at jobs."

The tradition has provided plenty of laughs over the years and both men had a chuckle recalling incidents on and off the pitch.

"One year we had a PFA [private fire alarm] callout to O'Connells in the middle of batting. We think maybe the police did that on purpose to beat us," Mr Christie joked.

The annual clash even caught the attention of former police minister George Hawkins who umpired the event a couple of times in the early 2000s.

Although the match is a social occasion, both sides are hoping to bag a win this year.

The firefighters haven't held the trophy since 2007 when they managed to retain it for two years running but Sergeant Steve Watt reckons the opposition's chances of winning are slim.

"I think they were the two years they cheated," Mr Watt joked.

"They can't play cricket to save themselves," he said, adding there was no doubt the police would win the 2013 match.

However, Mr Christie had other ideas and said they'd been recruiting from the Frankton brigade ahead of the big clash.

"We've got some actual cricket players this year . . . it's made us hungrier to get the trophy being the 25th anniversary," he said.

To mark the milestone prizes donated by Liquor King and Speights will be awarded post match, Mr Christie said.

Fast Facts:

What: Queenstown Police v Fire annual cricket match Where: Queenstown Recreation Ground When: Saturday February 16, 1 till 5pm

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