Dunedin University Oval, the summer of 2013. If you were there, you weren’t really there, man. As with all great festivals, it rained on the first day. All day. Some of the crowd stayed in on hope more than expectation. Then went to the pub. Where they stayed all of the night.
Everyone else came back the next day, Thursday, in anticipation of the event’s main act. England. The grass banks were full to the brim in anticipation of the big name’s in world cricket. Riskily, some would say over confidently, they didn’t have much in terms of a warm up act and to the delight of the thousands of locals in the Oval, their cult favourites on the undercard, the Black Caps, got the place rocking. Yet at 167 all out it was England who were rocked the most.
Having a Bruce on the bill is usually a sign of a good festival and so it proved again here as New Zealand’s Martin’s wickets in the afternoon gloom had home fans dancing in the dark. England had flopped badly and boy were the critics ready for them. New Zealand stole England’s thunder. Or one man did.

Rudders! Na na, na na, na na, na na!

Friday saw the crowd going wild for first-timer Hamish Rutherford. Upstaging the establishment on his own patch, Rutherford seemed galvanised by the acclaim from his people sending them delirious with his virtuoso performance. Still the ACDC borrowed singing echoed around the place.

Rudders! Na na, na na, na, na, na na!

A local band took up their opener’s cause with vigour. A hirsute, gothic looking gentleman clad in Biggles hat, plastic pointy ears and the New Zealand ’92 World Cup shirt led the revelling. This man was Seedy, lead singer of aspiring local rock gods, The Mainecoons. In Rutherford, the Kiwis have an unpolished diamond of a batsman. In Seedy, the Kiwis have an unpolished diamond of a frontman. His motley crew made for four days of pure phantasmagorical fun; imagine being stuck in a Kiwi cricket version of The Mighty Boosh. The heckling seldom ceased. Neither did the laughter. Seedy, Deano, Evan and Ben held their own in their battle of the bands too, the freaky four versus the might of England’s travelling vocal support, the Barmy Army. On the banks, trumpeter Billy proved to be England’s best player for the first two days as, over on the main stage, the cricketers had a shocker.

On psychedelic Saturday morning, the Black Caps’ own main man proved again to be the axeman, Brendan McCullum’s powerful performance added to the party atmosphere. England, though, had their chance again shortly after McCullum’s eventual departure to a standing ovation. New Zealand finished on 460-9.
Seedy noisily stirred the home support, while Deano playfully irked the travelling contingent. Donning firstly purple robes and a wizard mask while holding aloft a beige cricket bat, then pig mask and home made skin tight Scott Styris vest, his madcap devilish proclamations and ribald barbs accompanied every false note played by England.
Class will out and the cream of English talent rose to the top. Nick Compton and Alastair Cook’s uncompromising, longstanding duet at the top of the bill on the Saturday did for the locals. Then as the shadows lengthened on the penultimate day of the festival, Finn, a name synonymous with music in this part of the world, began to put together his cameo. It was all set up for the last day.

Sunday finally saw Dunedin live up to its Sunny Dunny name. Glorious weather abounded. Hangovers were nursed or topped up, a mellow mood abounded the sun kissed Oval. Seedy exhorted another debutant to do his best to disrupt the harmony.

Wagner-ner,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner. Neil Wagner!
Wagner-ner,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner. Neil Wagner!

But the Watford Wall, Steven Finn, stood firmly in the way of the Valkyrien quick. The festival on the main stage was starting to fizzle out. Back on the banks, things were getting much more interesting. Andy P (www.facebook.com/andypguitar – check it out pop pickers!) joined his band mates with his guitar and amplifier and proceeded to lead the crowd in their national anthem as well as some hastily re-hashed workings of Seventies rock band staples. Under his excellent musicianship and Seedy’s wordsmith skills, The Mainecoons impromptu cover of Pink Floyd’s Brick in the Wall implored;

Hey! England! Have a bloody go!
Ball by ball it’s just another fricking draw.

Finn did his best to ensure it did (as England reached 421-6 at the close) and was all smiles at the end as the tour heads now for Wellington. The Barmy Army, meanwhile, led the encores, delighted to have got out of Otago’s capital with the series level.

The University Oval, Dunedin, the summer of 2013. A Steven Finn half century, the second best bowling attack in the world going round the park, heavy rain, sun burn, cold winds, warm beer, a Peter Fulton half century, a Joe Root failure, sixes and drag acts and rock and roll. They won’t have this at Glastonbury.
If you were there, you weren’t really there, man.

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Let’s Rock New Zealand!!! DWC & The Mainecoons, left to right; Seedy, Andy P, Ben, Evan, Deano and me.

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