The Spike: or, Victoria College Review, June 1913
Easter Monday opened fine after the previous day's showers. but the southerly breeze was keen and strong. We will draw a veil over the tactics of certain citizens who blocked us form all athletic grounds, so that we had no option but to make the Athletic contest a part of the Citizens' Carnival. Suffice it that things went off much better than we had expected, and that we have the consolation of knowing that some twenty thousands of our fellow-countrymen and women have taken an interest in their University on at least one occasion.
The "gate" was, as we have indicated, a huge one; £35 was our share, all applications for an increase being firmly refused; once again we shall refrain from comment. On the whole it seems unnecessary.
Newtown park is not an ideal spot for a sports meeting; it has far too much slope for one thing, and in the second place the surrounding hills and trees fail entirely to keep off the wind. Competitors in the middle and long distance events, therefore, had a double task, and the check on their pace, as runners turned the corner at the bottom of the ground, was most marked; as some slight compensation, the finish was down hill.
Otago were the favourites for the Athletic Shield, although Canterbury rather fancied their own chances; like Brer Rabbit, we lay low, and said nothing; Auckland, as usual, nobody seemed to take into consideration. page 15 In view of the ultimate issue, it is interesting to recall the jubilation of several Otago barrackers as Williams, followed by Seddon, came romping home in the mile; the said jubilation was due to the fact that Canterbury would obtain no points in that event, and "we don't mind Victoria winning this so long as Canterbury's out of it."
Otago always seem strong in field events, and Boyne had no difficulty in winning both Shot and Hammer; indeed, his performance in the latter was over 9 feet better than Reid's record of the previous year, and should stand for some time.
The sprint events were a gift to Christie (Otago). It was very hard lines for Benham that necessitated the 100 yards being run a second time on account of a prodigious "break" by Mansell. Benham got second place in the first race, but was displaced by G. Strack in the re-run. Mansell failed to reproduce his form of last year, and even with his flying start was left in the ruck. Equally convincing were the victories of Thomas (Canterbury) in the middle-distance events; this runner is at least the equal of Moyes and Opie as a quarter-miler, and a N.Z. championship at either quarter or half is well within his powers. As it was, one could but lament the short-comings of the track and the strength of the wind, which combined to render records impossible.
In the Broad Jump Egley won comfortably, and his winning effort was at no time seriously endangered; Reynolds, of Auckland, might, however, have proved a serious rival, and ever have carried off the victory had he not, with unfailing regularity, misjudged the take-off, sometimes to the extent of nearly a couple of feet.
Hall-Jones improved upon his last year's performance in the High Jump, with Young (Canterbury) only an inch below him, but failed in his attempts to reach Millard's record.
The onlookers will not readily forget Hudson's great Three Mile, which exhausted the stocks of superlatives of all the local sporting and newspaper men. Williams's performance would itself have been a meritorious one, but Hudson almost lapped him; little wonder all the page 16 other competitors dropped out. The time was 17 2/5sec. better than Rigg's best, run on the Basin Reserve on a perfectly calm day, with a track in excellent condition.
The most exciting race of the day was undoubtedly the 120 Yards Hurdles final, the starters in which were Stewart and Harston, of Auckland, and the Strack brothers.
Stewart and G. Strack fought out every inch of the way, never a foot between them; over the last fence Stewart landed just a fraction of a second in front of Strack, and it seemed that the race must be his, but our man made a desperate leap at the tape, and just got there. We cannot understand the "Evening Post" reporter's doubts as to the accuracy of the time-keeping in this event. 16 2/5sec. for the first heat and 16 4/5sec. for the second and final certainly do look rather sensational at first, but the fact that the race was run down the slope, with a following wind, affords ample triumph for the Strack family, who had the finish to themselves; considering the conditions, the time (65sec.) was excellent.
The Mile Walk was yet another event from which we gathered 3 point. The perfect understanding between Cleghorn and Sievwright enabled them to press Ross that he "broke," and was called off in the third lap. Sievwright eventually won in record time, with Cleghorn 30 yards behind, the rest nowhere. A lot of nonsense was written by a reporter adversely commenting on the winner's style, the only effect of which was to draw forth a chorus of expert dissent from such criticism. The fact that Sievwright has competed at every local meeting for the past three years, without ever being so much as cautioned, is sufficient replay to his critics.
The Relay Race afforded some excitement by reason of the desperate finish. Stewards and Mackersey, the latter completely done, staggered down the straight neck and neck, until our man dropped a few yards from the tape. Meanwhile Thomas, who started something like forty yards behind, was coming along at a great pace, and actually finished not three yards behind the winner.