Pukekura Park shows its class

18:47, Feb 05 2012

Surely, when contemplating the first The Weekend column of 2012, there's no better place to be in the sporting world than Pukekura Park.

Perched inside the soon-to-be demolished Bellringer pavilion yesterday morning you could see fathers filing in through the historic park gates with their sons at their side – a new generation about to enjoy cricket at possibly the world's most picturesque ground.

If the councillors who so angrily objected to surplus ratepayer money being used to help fund the practice nets had taken the time to accept the generous offer of free tickets to yesterday's national one-day match between Central Districts and Auckland, maybe then they would have gained an appreciation of just how special this ground is.

Instead of taking the negative view, again, they could have maybe understood the significance of encouraging this next generation to keep returning to the park.

The late Brian Bellinger, who left us suddenly less than a month ago, would have been seething at the attitude of some of those around the New Plymouth District Council table.

Bellringer understood the importance of history, the need to expose the next generation to the values of team sport and, most importantly, just what an asset the whole region has in Pukekura Park.


On the walls inside the pavilion named in his honour are photographs of some of the greats of the game.

Men such as Greg Chappell, Denis Lillee and Ian Botham – men who loved their playing experience at the park as much as those privileged enough to have seen them play in little old New Plymouth. Protecting this ground is worth 10 times the amount of money the council put in to help erect the practice nets.

Hopefully the next generation of councillors have the foresight to want to make the park even better.

Millions could be spent to improve facilities and turn this famous old oval into a test venue where the world could appreciate just how lucky we are.

On another subject, Wellington would have been waking up to its usual post-sevens hangover yesterday after another incredibly successful tournament.

The Wellington event is easily the best on the IRB circuit and it must puzzle the men around the table in Dublin that no other country embraces the sevens series quite like New Zealand.

Maybe it's because in those other countries they are not the binge-drinking, party animals we New Zealanders appear to take pride in being.

I had just one observation from the tournament and it came from the final, won so dominantly by New Zealand.

No, it's not another salute to Gordon Tietjens, it was how New Zealand got the upper hand over Fiji.

It was just before New Zealand's first try when a Fijian went down injured. It was obvious he could not play on, yet that is exactly what New Zealand did.

In football the world over, when a player is injured, they sportingly put the ball into touch so play is stopped.

Not in sevens, or rugby for that matter.

Maybe it has something to do with being ruthless ...