Reflections of Silverdome sporting duoble-header

Glove affair: Daniel Geale taking on Renold Quinlan at the Silverdome on Friday. Picture: Scott Gelston

Glove affair: Daniel Geale taking on Renold Quinlan at the Silverdome on Friday. Picture: Scott Gelston

Both home-crowd favourites may have lost, but Tasmania, in particular Launceston and even more so the Silverdome, were still the winners.

It is hard to think of a higher profile international sporting double-header in the city.

The world’s top two ranked teams in one sport, a world title in the other.

It would be an impressive double bill if staged at two arenas, but for both Caitlin Bassett and Daniel Geale to share the same floorboards just 48 hours apart demonstrated both the versatility of the venue and the efficiency of its staff.

And both in a building primarily meant for another sport altogether.

The Silverdome has often been accused of being something of an albino quadruped with a good memory, but the success of last Wednesday and Friday’s events suggests it’s not time to pack its trunk yet.

I’m still standing is the message from the venue that has hosted Elton John - although if we’re going down that yellow-brick road the boxing should have been a day later because Saturday night’s alright for fighting [That’s appalling Shaw - The Ed].

All this with a national championship just up Westbury Road. For a venue that has hosted Meatloaf, two out of three ain’t bad [That’s even worse, cut it out].

Whether wielding a netball, pool cue or boxing glove, it was a huge weekend of sporting potential for an area of Launceston appropriately called Prospect.

The Silverdome double-header catered for two diverse markets.

At a conservative estimate, at least 80 per cent of the audience for the netball was female, but this gender imbalance was swiftly redressed at the boxing a couple of nights later.

The 3215 tickets for the Australia versus New Zealand Constellation Cup Test match were reportedly snapped up inside five minutes.

“Sold out” and “allocation exhausted” were the respective messages greeting browsers on the Silverdome and Netball Australia websites last week.

Those who got in witnessed a cracker. It might not have been the result most desired but nobody could complain about value for money as the best players in the world kept the result in the balance until the dying seconds.

At a venue that has hosted Tina Turner, this was simply the best [right that’s it, my office, now].

A building that opened 31 years ago as the Southern Hemisphere’s first indoor timber velodrome then had a two-day turnaround to transform it into a boxing arena.

It didn’t disappoint. Those walking into the auditorium for the first time would have had no idea they were sitting on a cycling track as the Silverdome created a boxing venue fit for a Don King.

It was always going to be difficult asking Launceston’s sports fans to stump up twice in three days but the sight of empty seats was still a disappointment given the scenario.

This was an IBO super middleweight world title featuring a multiple former world champ from Rocherlea.

Much like when we used to take having another Brooks High School product as Test cricket captain for granted, it was impossible not to think of Joni Mitchell’s sage advice about only knowing what you’ve got when it’s gone, although she has yet to play the Silverdome so gets saved from the corny pun treatment [thank goodness]. 

With the same dead-eye precision he usually saves for blocks of wood, another Tasmanian global conqueror, David Foster, hit the nail on the head when invited to the top table at the pre-fight press conference.

Foster said: “Us Tasmanians always complain that we don’t get enough international sporting events but this is a world title fight with our own world champ so all of us Tasmanians should get behind this otherwise you can’t complain if international events don’t come here.”

Difficult, and rather unwise, to argue with a big bloke who knows how to wield an axe.

This has long been the case in footy and cricket. It’s no good bleating about getting Gold Coast Suns at Aurora Stadium or West Indies at Bellerive if fans don’t turn out when we get more attractive fixtures like Carlton or South Africa respectively.

Big Dave subsequently confirmed his status as speaker of truth by also observing that if woodchopping was like boxing and required the performers to make weight for each contest, he wouldn’t have won any of his countless world titles.

With the benefit of hindsight, Friday’s fight may have been a home-town farewell for a true Tasmanian sporting great, who has been boxing for well over two decades, won a Commonwealth Games gold medal as long ago as 2002 and has 36 pro fights to his name.

So for a 35-year-old with four young mouths to feed and no income for 16 months to donate his purse to Lymphoma Australia says as much about Geale as his win-loss record in the ring.

While an obvious disappointment, losing to fellow Sydneysider Renold Quinlan was not a tragedy for someone who has dealt with the real thing this year.

I have loved observing and reporting on Geale’s career, but having seen him get hurt part of me hopes he does not have to go through that again.

At a venue that has hosted John Farnham, he may have reached the age of reason [I don’t care any more, I’m down the pub].