Seville, The Celtic Movement – Don’t tell The Bill how the New Zealand Bhoys watched Seville

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I asked Kevin for the details on how it could work. The first thing that would be needed would be a venue that was within sight of the 2 TV masts that were near the top of Lincoln Road in West Auckland. The second thing that would be needed would be cash. Quite a bit of cash! No cheques. Not exactly a request for used notes only but close to it I thought.

Kevin then started to tell me what the motelier would need to do to get the pictures. However I thought it better if I did not know too much and suggested that we keep the knowledge of how we were going to get the pictures to as few people as possible.

The venue sprang to mind right away – the clubrooms of Oratia Utd FC at Parrs Park. We had played there before and knew some of the committee. A quick phone call and we had a booking organised. There would be one slight problem. With such a short time to the game there would be no chance of getting a special licence for the bar to open early in the morning. It would be a tea and toast occasion!

Now to spread the word. It had to be done with some caution as we could not exactly let people know how we were getting the pictures. Phone calls, emails and word of mouth got the message out. We had to be careful when answering calls from people asking if it was true we were showing the game and how we were able to do so.

I received a call from a Portuguese guy asking if he could come along with some friends. I assured him they would be most welcome. A few days before the game I got a call from Angus Gillies a reporter with the TV 3 network. Angus’s dad Iain had actually been on Celtic’s books for a brief spell in the 1950’s before emigrating to New Zealand. Angus was certainly a Celtic sympathiser and had played for the NZCSC football team for a few seasons. He had heard we were showing the game and wanted to do an item for the News programme that day. I told him that I was reluctant to agree in view of the manner in which we would be getting the pictures. He accepted my decision then but I would discover later he would be more persistent!

The enquiries we were getting indicated that it would not only be Auckland based fans that would be coming. Even the South Island would be represented. The night before the game I made the trip to the Oratia Utd clubrooms to meet the mysterious motelier who would be responsible for the “transmission”.

On the way I stopped off at a couple of ATM’s to withdraw the necessary cash. Kevin had continued to be busy and when I walked into the club the first thing I saw was the huge screen he had hired. He had also arranged for large speakers to pick up the sounds. His wife, Karen, had been busy too. She had discovered a fabric shop in Auckland that also sold fancy dress and novelty items – including sombreros! An astonished shop owner was incredulous as she bought all his stock. Some were used for decoration while others were bought by members to add to their attire for the occasion.

At last I met our “technical assistant”. I gave him the envelopes with the money. He did not bother to count it! Now we would see the technical wizardry that would bring us the pictures. He produced a plastic bag out of which he pulled a small length of cable, a small square of light metal-technically known as a “receiver unit” and some sellotape.

Unbeknown to me at the time was that there had been some concern over the receiver unit. It did not seem to be working when tried a day earlier and getting it repaired could be difficult. Kevin’s ingenuity sparked off again. He knew vaguely an Irishman who worked on the TV3 Soccer show. Surely a Celtic sympatisher? And he was. Thanks to him the unit was sorted but there would be a price to pay as I found out later.

Kevin had not wanted the rest of us to worry or indeed to know too much about the technicalities of how we were getting the pictures so had not told anyone. So when I arrived I was blissfully unaware of how close to disaster we might have been.

We went up to the mezzanine floor with our “technician” and he attempted to stick the piece of metal to one of the large windows. It did not hold. “Have you got a cardboard box” he enquired. I went and got one from the boot of my car. It occurred to me that we were now supplying some of the “technical” gear! This must be the most expensive bit of sellotape and bit of metal in world history. However a few moments later I was thinking what a bargain!

He stuck the metal to the box near the window, fiddled about with the cable and there on the big screen were pictures from the Australian TV station that would be screening the big game in a few hours.

Just as he had finished the set up there was a flash of lightning and a roll of thunder. At first my only thought was there might be some wet weather on the way. Then it was pointed out that an electrical storm might interfere with our “broadcasting” ability!”

Something else to worry about.


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