"A bitterly disappointing conclusion. All seemed set for genuinely solid tilts for at least silver. The men let themselves down in their semifinal against an Indian side certainly not demonstrably better, and having taken a 2-0 lead. A penalty shoot-out loss to England meant fourth. A need to take a hard look at themselves."
There you have it, the home media expected better and there was no "hockey stick" air port welcome as there was when the New Zealand hockey team arrived home after the Montreal Olympics in 1976 when they beat Australia for Gold. As the air-liner arrived at the terminal the "aircraft-docker" held two hockey sticks rather than flags.
NZ hockey men's team performances
Their pool round was remarkable, they had good wins and solid performances and their defence held.
NZ 3 - Canada 1
NZ 8 - Trinidad & Tobago 0
NZ 2 - England 1
NZ 6 - Malaysia 1
These were outstanding results. The New Zealand team had been in quite good form, having beaten Australia in a friendly some time ago, and finished seventh in the World Cup three months back.
It was the Commonwealth Games where this New Zealand hockey team was to shine, and they had the Pool round to do it. As the above results show, they beat England 2-1 and indeed, one of the more fancied teams at the World Cup.
But like all such hockey tournaments, it is a totally different competition when reaching the semi-finals. It's a whole new ball game (as it were).
New Zealand was set to meet India in the Commonwealth Games hockey semi-final and to say the least, India, although finishing second in their pool, was not in the hottest of form although history was on their side with eight Olympic Gold Medals.
India finished second in Delhi behind Australia losing 0-8 â not their brightest hour before a home crowd of 900 million television viewers â after all hockey is their national sport.
New Zealand's Commonwealth Games history wasn't something to write home about â KL 1998 they were unclassified; 2002 Manchester 2nd behind Australia; 2006 Melbourne 5th and in 2010 Delhi, 3rd. The expectation was a Commonwealth Games minimum Silver Medal in Glasgow.
All was going to plan with a 2-0 advantage through goals by Simon Child in the 2nd minute and Nick Haig in the 18th. Experienced hockey commentators say that in international hockey a 2-0 advantage can be dangerous and so it was. India came back with goals in the 28th, 42nd and 47th minutes to take the lead and the game 3-2.
NZ hockey commentators were scathing being 2-0 up and thereafter the claim was that the tight knit marking dropped off, there was lax tackling, and poor chasing and in essence â¦.. enough said. NZ commentators can be rough as evidenced by the NZ Herald (above).
Fighting for Bronze
England was trounced 4-1 by the Australian (The Kookaburras) in their semi-final and there was considerable expectation that the Kiwis, having already beaten England in the Pool Round 2-1, was have their match. England it was thought may have been a bit down with their solid semi-final trouncing.
The Bronze Medal match finished up being 3-3. No one who saw the match could have distinguished between these two world rating teams and like all matches each team had their chances to forge ahead.
It was then to the penalty shoot-out in the new format, of one player running into the circle and attempt to beat the goalkeeper. The Australian Hockeyroos had beaten England in the women's Gold Medal final through such a penalty shoot out, and English women the day before had beaten the Kiwi women in the same manner. It is certainly more entertaining than just a penalty stroke.
Sadly the New Zealand men could only manage two goals, with only Hugo Inglis and Steve Edwards scoring. Heartbreaking! Crud happens! Oh, well, the Rio Olympics is only two years away!
Brad Mills enjoys the outdoors and almost any sport... For a day job he's a journalist who works at the Rhema Media in Auckland New Zealand.
Brad Mill's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/brad-mills.html