1974/75 British League V New Zealand Select
This was an interesting series with Ronnie Moore as Captain for each of the 3 'Tests' and Graeme Stapleton as second in command. The 'Test' series would span Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Western Springs saw the first 'Test' on November 25. Sadly, missing from the Kiwi side was Mike Fullerton, out with a broken wrist. However, Gary Peterson made his comeback joined by Ian Ross and Terry Darwent.
The British League saw Dave Morton as Captain with Ian Cartwright, Mike Hiftle and Craig Pendlebury making up the crew. Drafted in as Reserve at the Springs was Kiwi Colin Tucker.
Heat 1. D Morton, Moore, Stapleton, Cartwright.
British League 33
New Zealand Select 27
What a start for the visitors. Ronnie Moore had this to say, "The first match left no doubt that we had been taking the young Englishmen far too lightly. Even so, we weren't worried. I was confident we could win the second 'Test' at Wellington and everybody else thought so too."
So, it was off to Upper Hutt for the second 'Test' at Te Marua on November 30. How Gary Peterson missed this one is a mystery. Being from New Plymouth and all. Moore and Stapleton were joined by Graeme Smith and Robin Adlington with Don Eade as Reserve. For the British League, John Davis came in with Ian Cartwright moving to Reserve.
Heat 1. D Morton, Davis, Moore, Smith.
British League 41
New Zealand Select 19
Two nil for the visitors and what a thumping ! Sadly, Craig Pendlebury was injured first time out and it cost him the night and the Final 'Test'. Robin Adlington the only Kiwi seeing the chequered flag. Ronnie had nothing but trouble and in his own words, "might as well have stayed home."
Christchurch held the 3rd 'Test' with the locals hoping to salvage something from the carnage. The meeting was at Templeton on December 7. Ronnie was determined, "If I did nothing else, I promised myself, I was going to end Dave Morton's winning streak. It was a matter of restoring self-respect."
Ronnie and 'Stape' were joined by Tom Black, Larry Ross and Gavin Rhodes at Reserve.
Heat 1. Moore, D Morton, Davis, L Ross.
British League 31
New Zealand Select 29
Close but no cigar. Stapleton's engine failure proving too costly. A 'White Wash' for the visitors and a hugely successful tour. Ronnie's self-respect, polished and safely back on the shelf, he could look forward to the coming tour by Poland. He said, "The mini-test series was a good opener to a season which promised much. I had accepted an invitation to tour New Zealand and compete in one match in Australia with the 1975 Mauger/Briggs World Series. Then there was the full-scale Test Series between New Zealand and Poland."
Dave Morton was THE star for the British League squad and continued to enjoy his Kiwi stay, winning the New Zealand Championship at Palmerston North on January 14. He was unbeaten, John Davis second with 14 and Craig Pendlebury back in the saddle, third with 12. Ian Cartwright and Mike Hiftle joined Robin Adlington on 11.
The 'Test' series was a great idea and a huge success. Could have been a solid foundation for the future. Oh well.
This article was first published on 23rd July 2023
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