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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 1, No. 2. March 16, 1938

Empire Games

Empire Games

The Other Side of the Medal Recently "Salient's" representative had the opportunity of a quiet talk with a prominent New Zealand competitor at the Empire Games. For fear that officialdom might suspect that he had been paid for the interview (Not much danger!—Ed.) our subject requested that his name be not published. The Editor, however, accepts full responsibility for the accuracy of the reporting.

Trouble in Eden.

"What was this we read in the papers about one of the Trinidad athletes holding off an attack by some of the South African representatives with a handful or stones?" I asked.

"There wasn't anything about stones in it, but the rest was quite true. Things got so bad at one time that it seemed the whole Empire village wanted to go down to the South Africans and start a 'donnybrook.'"

"How did it all start?"

"Well, the South Africans didn't like the Trinidad athletes on account of their colour. You may have heard over the radio about the six-mile race Matthews won. Boy, it was wicked! The South African marathon runner went into the race to crack up the others. You know. Make the pace too hot. He'd run on a way ahead of the others. Then Stanford, the Trinidad chap, would keep right after him. Every time the South African bloke eased up. Stanford would pass him. Had him swinging. They kept on passing each other like this, and then the next time Stanford came up behind him, the South African bloke pulled right out to give him room to pass on the inside, and just as he got alongside him, he gave it to him with, his elbow. Out! right on the solar plexus. Flattened him right out. They had to get a doctor and have him carried off the track on a stretcher."

"Yes, we did hear that there'd been a bit of elbow jolting in the early part of the race, but we hadn't any idea it was like that."

"Gee, boy, it was wicked!"

The Colour Bar.

It appeared that the six-mile race was but one in a series of similar incidents. "The athletes were quartered in the basements of the grandstand with thin partitions between the sections. On one occasion, when one of the Trinidad men was ringing up, several S.A. men kept on drumming on the wall, making it impossible for him to hear or say a word. Another Trinidad man thought this was too much of a good thing, went through to persuade the rowdies to stop, but soon found a brawl on his hands. He got into it all right, and broke three ribs in one of the South Africans."

"Were all the South Africans like this?"

"No, there were three or four who were really decent chaps. The others were sort of 'high society' and drew the colour line pretty strongly. They even wanted to 'have a go' at Mr. Creake, our manager from New Zealand. He's got some coloured blood in him. The managers of the South Africana were mainly to blame, You know, kept on telling their chaps to 'remember about the niggers.' and all that. Wouldn't let them forget it. They even came up to our boners when they were fighting a coloured chap and told them to 'stick it in to him!'"

I ventured a mild exclamation that all this was hardly in accordance with the oath of loyalty to the amateur spirit of the games and the brotherhood of the Empire.

The New Zealand representative laughed.

"There's a whole lot more, too. One night some of the South Africans got one of the Trinidad chaps on his own. They flattened him and started to 'put the boot in.' I honestly believe they'd have kicked him to death if the police hadn't arrived in time. That chap was in a real bad way."


We dropped the colour question.

It appeared also that there were several other interesting aspects [unclear: of] games which the papers [unclear: —ural] didn't tell us about.

"Was there much gambling on the results of the events?" I asked.

"Plenty: Not only gambling, but the bookies tried to 'get at' some of the 'blokes.' They tried to 'get at' me. They offered me £10 to 'lie down,' but I said 'What's the big idea? What d'you take me for? Anyhow, I can get thirty quid in New Zealand any day.' They were offering five to one against Matthews. Reckoned they had some one else set to win, I guess. Must have come a bit of a flop."

The Oldest Profession

was well to the front. On a Saturday night at about seven o'clock, The entrance to the Village was congested with feminine attractiveness which made it very difficult to get right down town to keep an appointment "Boy," he said, "they were like files."

All this was to us certainly a new side to the "greatest gathering of brother and sister athletes from all parts of our far-flung Empire, etc., etc."

We thanked our friend for his courtesy and kindness in granting us this interview and wished him all the best for the 1940 Olympic Games—for which he has already begun training—and went home.