Sports correspondant & historian
Netball took centre stage in the Western Bay early on Sunday evening, with the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic finally bringing the Australasian championship title, back across the ditch for the first time.
While Sideline Sid paid only casual attention to the start of the live viewing on Sky - as the clock ticked down he was riveted to the screen.
The Magic became just the second New Zealand sports team to beat the Aussies in a trans-Tasman competition.
What made the final victory even more special was that “Our Team” had to battle back from the bottom of points standings (after four rounds), to post twelve straight wins to annex the silverware.
The saying of a “must-win” game haunted the Magic all the way to victory in Melbourne on Sunday evening.
The sheer relief and jubilation on the faces of the Magic players at the end, told the tale of a real fight by the Magic battlers, to win the trans-Tasman crown.
Behind every successful team is a usually a strong support base of grassroots sport. While Western Bay netball is several steps removed from the Magic franchise, the local set-up is second to none.
The amalgamation of Tauranga and Mount netball a couple of decades ago, into Harbourside Netball, laid a small part of the platform for the later development of the Magic franchise.
Harbourside Netball, along with the other Bay of Plenty and Waikato regional netball organisations, offers the future elite players of the region, a transparent and creditable pathway to the top.
In recent years the likes of the Warriors (rugby league) organisation, have realised the way to success is not buying (and then discarding) overseas players, but creating a genuine player pathway for their own youngsters.
Harbourside Netball is entitled to bask in some of the glory of the Magic victory, secure in the knowledge that there pathways play a part in developing the elite stars of the future.
Another component that has sling-slotted the profile of netball in the Western Bay, is that we now have a first class venue at the TECT Arena, to host Magic games. Sideline Sid has wondered how many of the critics of the TECT Arena have actually been to the Baypark Stadium to witness the frenzy of top class sport in action?
While not huge in size compared to other stadiums in the country, the arena is a comfortable fit for such as the Magic games.
The real beauty of the Baypark stadium is that it is not a white elephant that is only utilised for top class sport – but is in constant use for grassroots indoor sport, seven days a week.
On the local rugby front, the Western Bay has a rare opportunity to sweep the silverware in the five grades of Baywide rugby.
With 11 of the 18 of this weekend’s semi-finalists from the Western Bay, there is a chance that the local teams could sweep the board on Grand Finals Day, at the Tauranga Domain on Saturday, August 4 2012.
Seeya at the footie on Saturday