I really didn’t expect the ferociously supportive response that I received to last week’s thoughts.
Everyone loves our champions – not the least those from sport.
And it was no better displayed than at Thursday night’s Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction Dinner in Melbourne, where there were tears of affection throughout.
From the opening stanza as all members present paraded in across the grand ballroom until the climax of the evening when the late Richie Benaud was inducted as Sport Australia’s 40th legend, there were hairs standing up on the backs of the necks of the 1000-plus guests attending.
That opening scene was a treasure in itself – a trivia bonus round to behold. The ultimate tiebreaker challenge to name as many stars within it as possible.
And by the evening’s end they were joined by eight more – each as deserving as your own favourite who has not as yet got the nod.
This time around it was basketballer Robyn Maher, four-time world surfing champion Wendy Botha, Bathurst star Alan Moffat, rugby league’s Darren Lockyer, Socceroo Harry Kewell and the Oarsome Foursome’s Drew Ginn.
Joining them in the general induction category were administrator Sam Coffa and horse racing’s queen Gai Waterhouse.
It takes time to induct such talent into the nation’s Hall of Fame. First of all there’s always so much uninducted talent to choose from and only eight spots each year.
And even on their night there is so much to tell about each that it’s a pretty decent journey between entrée and main course. But no one cares. This is special stuff.
Even for the most dedicated of sports fans, there’s always something new. Who would have believed that Lockyer only converted from AFL to rugby league because his parents got a new job opportunity and moved west from Brisbane?
Nor that even now no one in Botha’s house gets fed, including the dog if there’s surfing on the box.
Maher reminded us just how consistently world class the Opals have been since they first made it to the Olympics at Los Angeles in 1984.
Kewell was busy with his new role managing Notts County but it was almost as good having Rale Rasic accepting the induction medal for him.
Rasic says he found a second home in the Hall of Fame and listening to him, its 100 per cent believable.
But there’s two more poignant moments of this annual affair that tug at the heartstrings and activate the tear ducts.
The first is about the here and now. The Don Award is presented annually to the current sportsman or woman who most inspires the Australian public. As always the short list made it look as though the judges had an impossible task.
But if it was a tough choice to pick Kurt Fearnley, there would have been no doubt after his acceptance speech.
Every Aussie with the remotest interest in sport should do themselves a favour and listen to his inspirational words here
If you’re an adult show it to your kids. It’s so good it probably means he’s a lay down misere to win again next year as a result.
And then there was Richie – and Bruce McAvaney’s in-house inquisition of Benaud’s wife Daphne, brother John and son Jeff. Spine-tingling.
That’s exactly the sort of stuff and more that should be available to all Australian sports lovers, not just those fortunate to be present.
It was a big week for sports nostalgia.
The Victorian Government and Athletics Australia announced the commissioning of a statue to honour the late Peter Norman who 50 years ago come this Tuesday after receiving his Olympic silver medal stood with Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos as they made their historic salute.
And yesterday Norman’s 800 metres gold medal-winning team mate Ralph Doubell invited Joseph Deng to his home south east of Melbourne to celebrate the young man’s feat earlier this year of breaking Doubell’s national record just months before it would have been 50 years old.