Once again by the miracle of post terminal travel, your intrepid commentator reports from around the globe. The very far side of the globe to be precise, Deep South Island of New Zealand in a little place called Hokitika. Seaside place, good beach, great beach sculptures from the masses of driftwood, spectacular sunsets, and much more importantly, a couple of half decent bars, although the price of beer is something disgraceful over here. They fancy the quality is good, but I am not convinced CAMRA would be impressed. Anyway enough of the sightseeing, this is a sporting column; which in New Zealand means Rugby Union. Well yes and no. Turns out the West Coast is a bit of a bastion of Rugby League as well.
And the pub I'm in, now known as Coasters, but no doubt a more sensible name in years gone by, proves this by way of its honours board. A great idea this, photos of every local sporting worthy from back in the 1920s until today. Impressive for a little town, half a dozen All Blacks, including a skipper in the 30s, twenty or so Rugby League heroes, golfers, swimmers, athletes and others. National or regional champs or representatives all. And best of all? At least a dozen Axemen no less. It doesn't mean the same down here as at home methinks. All well muscled, tanned, smiling men, hands resting on their shafts, and none apparently resembling a young Jack Nicholson smashing his way through a door crying, "Here's Jonny!" Bit disappointing really.
Seems "Mad Axeman" in NZ just means someone who's good at chopping sticks.
More to follow in weeks to come. I'm off up a glacier in a helicopter next to run about in the snow and remind myself of home.