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FeaturesDecember 19, 2014

2014 in Review: James McOnie’s Sporting Year, as Viewed From His Couch


The Crowd Goes Wild’s James McOnie looks back on 2014 in televised sport, recounting the year’s biggest stories – most of which were broken by him using MySky and Twitter.

At the start of the year it was all about Benji. Where would he play? Would he be good? What’s the point of having health insurance if you don’t use it? All valid questions.

Then the NRL Nines went nuts. Benji would definitely have been good at that. Shaun Johnson sure was. Hell, even 42-year-old Brad Fittler was pretty good until he pulled a hammy scoring a runaway try. The Nines was kind of like watching the last 15 minutes of a free-flowing league game with very tired forwards. But the idea worked. Kudos to Deano and Duco.

India’s cricket team toured NZ the way they often do: looking like they don’t really care and enjoying the vocal Indian support around our grounds. Then they stumbled upon a great moment in NZ history as Brendon McCullum crept up on a test triple century at the Basin. No New Zealander had achieved that. On 293 McCullum edged the ball and it didn’t carry to keeper MS Dhoni. Eventually he reached 300 with a boundary and got out. I savoured it in the luxurious bunker we call The Crowd Goes Wild office.

Super Rugby didn’t seem too exciting. Benji scored a try in South Africa! Then, after the Blues lost to the Hurricanes, Benji left. Mid-season! Not long after Warriors coach Matt Elliot quit (apparently) – proof that the Auckland property market really does suck. Benji’s wife didn’t like Auckland so much but I’m sure SBW’s wife will love Hamilton. So much to do! Hamilton Gardens, the river, the roller disco, The Outback…

Steven Adams made the NBA freakin’ playoffs and dunked on Duncan. Tim Duncan, future hall of famer. The Spurs won the series however and eventually the title with the grumpiest coach (Greg Popovich) and assistant co-coach (Sean Marks).

An understrength England rugby turned up and I felt bad asking Brodie Retallick to name one of them. He said Michael Laws. It was close. Courtney was the first name he was after. That team of no names almost pulled the All Blacks’ pants down at Eden Park until an inspired/crazy tap and run from Aaron Cruden resulted in a Conrad Smith try and spared us from English scribes gloating. Actually they gloated anyway.

In June the Fifa World Cup arrived. I miss it so much. Straight away it was thrilling and bizarre. Arjen Robben is still amazing. Spain, not so much. England were weak. But James Rodriguez… ay caramba! Tim Howard, the American goalie with Tourettes broke Twitter but couldn’t hold out Belgium forever. Chris Wondolowski missed a sitter to win it and gave USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann a case of Tourettes.

I tweeted a photo of an Englishman possibly getting a Brazilian girl’s number and The Daily Mail did a story on it and tracked down his girlfriend! You can see my venetian blinds in the photo. Chile were amazing but they did break Neymar’s back, and when Germany totally dismantled Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals, it felt like the world had stopped. When Mario Gotze scored the winning goal for Germany in the final against Argentina, social media was overwhelmed by photos of how pleased he was to see his girlfriend.

On to Glasgow and we’re very good at cycling. Inside, outside, on country paths… Usain Bolt told a reporter that Glasgow was shit but a transcript convinced me he was talking about the weather and on that front he was absolutely correct. In other news, someone tweeted a great photo from the pool.

Shotputter Valerie Adams won in Glasgow of course and kept on winning after that. At the other end of the scales, 17-year-old golfer Lydia Ko kept on winning and making a lot more money than Val. Ko could almost afford to buy a house on the North Shore, but she’s off to university in South Korea.

Rugby’s ITM Cup was exciting: Taranaki, Manawatu and Hawkes Bay take a bow. The great news was Seta Tamanivalu, the impossible-to-tackle-first-time Taranaki centre, signed with the Chiefs.

The All Blacks continued to be amazing, even in defeat – just the one this year, in Johannesburg. It was a notable year for the Aarons from Manawatu. Aaron Smith posted a naked selfie – he should do it more often because he had a great year. Aaron Cruden had a big night and missed the plane. Then Beauden took over. The moral of the story: don’t get drunk – get nude.

The Kiwis beat the Kangaroos twice in a row, and Shaun Johnson blitzed past Greg Inglis like he wasn’t the best league player in history.

Those were stories you couldn’t miss on TV, but one that did elude me was this: Four out of five golfers don’t want Kiwi caddy Steve Williams in the golf Hall of Fame. A poll conducted by found that 19% of players felt Williams had done enough to earn a spot in the hall of fame – 81% said he didn’t belong. One anonymous golfer polled said: “I think he believes he should be.”

Ouch! Williams caddied for 13 of Tiger Woods’ 14 major titles and helped Adam Scott win two more. I always felt caddies were like coaches and deserved recognition. But golfers don’t only want their trophies, their millions, their hot wives and cocktail waitresses, they want all the credit too!

And in Rio they’ll get a chance to win Olympic medals as well. As much as I like golf, it does go against my qualifications of an Olympic sport on three counts: 1) The Olympics isn’t the pinnacle. 2) You can wear jeans while competing. 3) You can smoke while competing.

I’m off to email Jacques Rogge.

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