'Last time I heard a crowd like that we had the Ranfurly Shield back in '74'
The climax to the week-long razzmatazz of Timaru's first world championship sporting event reminded South Canterbury athletics coach Don Garland of the glory days of Timaru sport.
"The last time I heard a crowd like that at a sporting event in Timaru was when we had the Ranfurly Shield back in '74," Garland said.
The World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championships reached a fitting crescendo as a crowd of 1000 people packed Aorangi Park to watch the two best bike polo teams in the world battle it out on Saturday.
The title was won by European mixed team Outlawz Birds 4-3 in a thrilling overtime encounter.
"It was quite incredible to watch - those top riders and the skill they have is just amazing and the crowd was so involved in it," Garland said.
Tournament organiser Sam Callander said the unanimous impression he was getting was that Timaru had just hosted the best world championships in the sport's short history.
"They're all saying it's the best they've been to," he said.
"When it all combined together we had great courts, great live-streaming and a lot of great people in and around Timaru supporting it and making it all happen.
"There's a lot of goodwill floating around right now."
The tournament, which it's estimated has injected about $200,000 into the Timaru economy, started off well but support for it around Timaru built as the two host teams, Ash Samwich (Ash Manson, Sam Callander, Ash Ronald) and 3-Up (Richard Brown, Lewis Yarker, Michael Broadhead), performed above their rankings.
Wildcard entrants 3-Up stunned the Australian champions and then drew with the North American champions on Friday.
Timaru man Paul Nevin said the championships had been a "riveting watch".
"You couldn't have wished for a better final than that, close to the end with a really great atmosphere. There was a real international feel to it, worthy of a world championships."
Another spectator, Tim Boyd, said the fact that teams were the worst of enemies in physical contests on the court and then the best of friends off it was a credit to the sport.
"It was a unique atmosphere for Timaru and the high level of skill, particularly in the final, was extremely impressive."
Michael Lang said the fact that Timaru had just hosted a successful world championships was something the town should be very proud of.
"I've never travelled to watch a world championship final in my life and to get to watch one on my own back doorstep was just great.
"The bike control and the balance of the guys was mighty impressive. There was some really good carnage too, which was great."