In Praise Of Lions Fans

Enjoying their time here

By Roger Childs

There was a Lions fan at the Otaihanga Domain Parkrun today and he ran in the familiar red T shirt.

Graham is just one of the thousands who have accompanied the British and Irish Lions on their highly publicised tour to New Zealand.

He’s been having a great time and has found that Kiwis have been very friendly and welcoming.

A few Auckland yobos took the Mickey after his group left Eden Park last Saturday, but apart from that it’s been all good.

Great to have them

Most New Zealanders have links with Britain. Graham Terry

The Lions fans have added plenty of colour and cheer to the streets, cafes, bars and stadia round the country. Obviously the thousands of red-clad visitors have been putting millions into the economy, however regardless of this contribution, their presence is very welcome.

Apart from Asian and Pacific Island New Zealanders, the vast majority of  “European” and Maori Kiwis have some British Isles ancestry.

Although the days of Britain taking the lion’s share of our exports and providing most of our immigrants are long gone, there are still ties that bind.

Over the years we have shed many of legal and political connections, however Queen Elizabeth II remains as our “head of state” and the union jack still nestles in the top left corner of our flag.

Britain and Ireland remain favourite destinations for Kiwis heading overseas, and relations and friends in those two nations are delighted to welcome travellers from the antipodes.

So not surprisingly, New Zealanders are very comfortable with the visitors, and it’s been great to hear many stories of Kiwis coming to the rescue when Lions fans have had foul-ups with accommodation and tickets.

What about the rugby?

Of course they’ve come because of the Lions tour, however it’s been a great opportunity to get round the country, enjoy the scenery, visit the tourist spots and generally have a good time. Also for many, there have been relatives and friends to catch up with.

For the visiting fans, the rugby results have been mixed, and being one down in the test series the Lions need to win tonight in Wellington to give them the chance of a series win.

If they did pull off victories tonight and next Saturday at Eden Park, no-one will be concerned about the results in other games.

The British and Irish Lions will have plenty of enthusiastic vocal support at the Caketin tonight.

The blocks of thousands of fans in red gear with daffodils, lion heads, furry frills etc… on their heads, will be a visual reminder of the presence of these very welcome visitors.