A Nichey Niche Convo - Snap Goes The Arm

Sometimes the Diggity Doc and the Wildcard talk to each other...

Diggity Doc - Lord Wildcard, ruler of the cards out in the wild and maester of the Under 20 Football World Cup, what did you make of the campaign for the Junior All Whites? Obviously they lost to Portugal, knocking them out of the tournament but overall it was a decent effort wasn't it?

Wildcard - Oh, it was fantastic, Doc. In my mind they played their best match of the tournament against Portugal and you can hardly ask for more than that. I thought  there was a good chance we'd leak four or five against these guys, though I did at least have the hope that Portugal might not go for the jugular - they've actually been a fairly conservative team on the whole, not taking that many shots but scoring a good percentage of them. The late winner was harsh emotionally but it seemed our lads were pretty knackered by then, I don't know how we'd have held out in extra time, and to be honest a Portuguese stunner was possible at any given moment of the match. But to play as well as they did in a World Cup knockout game... unprecendeted for NZ Football. Bill Tuiloma must have been scouring the 2010 World Cup tapes because his Ryan Nelsen impersonation was on point.

DD - Besides Bill who is clearly our best player and one of our most promising youngsters, who else caught your eye? Monty Python was pretty good up front wasn't he? Who else?

WC - Haha, I love that. Monty 'Python' Patterson, it even suits the way he plays! Yeah he was great for NZ throughout, probably our most incisive attacking player. He and Noah Billingsley had a huge impact on this team, starting on the bench initially but forcing their way into the starting XI on their performances. And along with those two, I've really come to like Sam Brotherton as a defender. He's playing college footy in America, and could well be the next in a fine line of stocky, rugged kiwi defenders. Think Ben Sigmund with a little more class.

DD - Yeah Billingsley has that unique combination of size and pace doesn't he? Could you notice a difference in quality between the guys who are overseas and then the guys in the Wanderers team and/or the Phoenix? That's what it felt like, and in that regard we've got a wee way to go.

WC - I suppose you could, though Billingsley is one of those Wanderers lads. He was also the youngest dude in the team, which is impressive. Actually, I read the kiwis were the fifth youngest squad overall, so there's another reason to be proud. That sort of thing is less important at a senior event, but the difference at this age of an extra year training and developing with elite professionals is massive. But yes, you look at some other teams like Germany for example, and every single one of their players is aligned with a pro club and many of them have first team experience. Realistically, some of these kiwis we may never hear of again, but others we can certainly hope to see find their way either with the Nix or overseas. 

On a very different note, we're each firmly in the Fox Sports camp these days in terms of NRL programming, but The Footy Show had its finest moment in years last night. Not sure if you caught it, but Ben Ross snapped his arm in half arm wrestling Wendell Sailor. I now know what a broken arm sounds like and boy is it loud. Like, hauntingly loud. Jeezus. I'm a massive fan of whenever chaos breaks out on live TV, and that was brilliant (and also disgusting).

DD - Yeah personally I found the loss to Portugal super frustrating because that slight lack in class or experience resulted in some of the worst touches and turnovers I've seen. Like, they would do so well to get the ball and then just let it go within the next two passes.

I literally lol'd reading that, the finest moment in years is a gastly arm snap? Good one haha, but yes when it happens live it's quite a situation isn't it?

What do you reckon about the Footy Show in its current form?

WC - It's terrible compared to what it was, they're forcing humour that always came naturally in the past. The glory days of Fatty/Chief/Matty/Sterlo are long gone. It still has its moments, but the saddest thing of all that I can say is that it's been ages since Mario Fenech last begged to be on the panel. That's more painful than a Ben Ross broken arm. All their eggs are in the Beau Ryan basket, but Beau's kinda terrible without a leash and they're just letting him run free. Meanwhile the various Matty Johns shows are basking in the quality of Fletch & Hindy. 

You're not wrong about that Portugal game either. Coaches often say the first touch of a player is the best indication of talent, and our first touches were often terrible. Except for Tuiloma, who'd be pegging these first touch passes to midfielders who'd need three touches just to get it under control. But I knew that was the case. It was a good show of how far behind countries like Portugal we are for player development, but damn, these guys produced Cristiano Ronaldo - of course that's the case. Maybe one day we'll be great, though for now the underdog who tried is our best case scenario.

DD - Yeah that was the most striking aspect of the kiwis performance just how loose they were on the ball. Tuiloma though, his passing could see him pave a nice little path for himself.
Yeah I haven't watched the Footy Show in years, they have just fallen off in my eyes. They steer clear of any quality analysis but their funny bits just appear real corny. That's what happens when you cater to the mums etc whereas Fox, as you said have Fletch & Hindy who are just funny blokes. They have nailed the analysis aspect as well, and have different bases covered with Paul Kent and Ben Ikin taking a slightly more media angle.

There's TV rights up for grabs and word is that Channel 7 could try get into the mix which would make thinga interesting. They all stand head and shoulders above Sky's silly league shows ... right?

WC - Hahaha, well... yes. It's kinda cruel to put them in the same bracket though, since all the SKY TV shows are just Warriors cheerleader ventures. Ex-players taking a completely one-sided look at NZW games. And Steve McIvor, he just has one of those faces that you really wanna punch, and I say this as a pacifist. But unfortunately the old fight for life has probably ruined my chances at getting a shot at that mug. I don't really watch those efforts when I can avoid them, Monty Betham's not exactly a beacon of entertainment.

What sports shows do earn their stripes for your viewership? Opening this up to a general thing, there aren't really that many good ones. Personally, I get most of that stuff from podcasts these days. But there were a few classics in the distant past, like Pulp Sport, Sportscafe and possibly even Game of Two Halves, though can't say I'm a huge Veitch fan. I like Around The Horn on ESPN, and any time I can get a line on Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports UK's Premier League stuff is a good time.

DD - Yeah Sportscafe and Pulp Sport are kiwi sporting telly gold while Marc Ellis and Mathew Ridge made A Game Of Two Halves what it was. I'm all about information so I just like a bit of Sportscentre while Wilbon and Kornheiser have a sof spot in my heart as well. But if you're trying to be entertaining you don't really need visual element so ya? Hence where podcasts come in.

Mate, how are you loving Delly fever?

WC - Yeah the podcasts do tend to cut to the point so, so much better. There's this one brilliant one that I listen to at least twice every week, it's called The Niche Cast...

As far as the American strand of Delly Fever goes, I love it. It's always fun when Americans find themselves a little cult hero, and there's always on the look for the next Linsanity. But the Aussie side of things is starting to annoy me a little, we're not like that with Steven Adams... are we? Matt Dellavedova himself seems like an absolute champion but I don't trust Aussie sport/sports media to do right by him. Like the old joke goes: How do you know you're in an elevator with an Australian sportsman? Don't worry, he'll tell ya.

I have one other question for ya, and it's regards hockey shoot-outs. I was watching that Black Sticks effort against Canada, where they missed a bunch of chances to win the shootout before eventually losing. For a hockey philistine for me, what's the general ratio of missing/not missing? In a football situation, I'd wager it's around 80% conversion, maybe drop that to 70% in a penalty shoot-out situation.

DD - Yeah but Delly himself seems like a good sort, he would be a great lad to be stuck in an elevator with. Ah well first of all shout out to Canada because they have earned that win over the past few years and it is great to see new nations rising up the hockey ranks.

That style of shoot-out has only come to be in the past few years, before that it was very similar to the football penalty. That shootout is more about the goalie picking a side and going that way where this shoot-out is way more hard to predict. It's 50/50 because a good goalie can make it bloody hard, as we saw from both Devon Manchester and the Canadian goalie. But a slick effort from the player can leave the goalie with no hope as we also saw. I'd say 60/40 to the attacker, especially when you watch the Germans, Dutch and Aussies.

I did think that while Manchester was great, he dove a bit early on the last few. You have to stay on your feet and just stay in front of the player, which is much easier said than done with the subtle body fakes and variations these guys can do. You won't see Ryan Archibald and Simon child miss three each in a shootout too often, it was one of those games.

WC - So it goes. It was a rough little period of NZ vs Canada sporting events, with the Football Ferns held to a 0-0 draw against them just a few hours after that one ended. Bloody Canadians, can't even get their national collective nomenclature right, they should be called Canadans! Yeah, the one on one hockey shoot-out is a weird one to the uninitiated, I know they trialled a similar thing pre-penalties in football (mostly in American MLS-precursors, because Yanks don't understand the concept of a draw, hence no cricket), where an attacker starts at half way and has however many seconds to score a goal. But that's dumb. It works far better in hockey, where the smaller ball, area and goal coupled with a stick and a bigger goalie is more complimentary. That game was also for a bonus Olympic spot, what now for the Blacksticks? Try finish fifth and qualify some other way?

DD - Oh Canadia! Yeah, I really like it and as I said it is something new to the game which adds a bit of spice to it. Ah yeah to qualify for Rio, they will now have to beat the Kookaburras to qualify from Oceania which is a far more difficult task when compared to beating Canada in a quarter final; Australia are consistently one of the best two teams in the world. That's why this is such a bummer, not because the Black Sticks lost but that one of those days where not much goes right, came at this time. Canada were in Aotearoa late last year for a few games and we rightfully beat them, but when it mattered, we couldn't quite do the job. Maybe they need some peptides to cheer them up? I wouldn't mind a trip to Argentina, but I'll have to leave asap, tell the boss would ya? Peace out, A-town down.

WC - Yeah no problem, I'll get the intern to cover for you. 'Til next week, Doc. Safe travels and pleasant sports-ing.