Column: Bridging the sporting divide

Tracy Annenberg grew up in Stocksbridge, is an Owls fan and lives in New Zealand. Married to Neil she loves to travel, read and cook, but misses the moors
Tracy Annenberg grew up in Stocksbridge, is an Owls fan and lives in New Zealand. Married to Neil she loves to travel, read and cook, but misses the moors
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Sporting events can be a tough call when you have dual nationality. Kiwis are quick to tell me I should support the local team, some huffingly offended that I should consider doing otherwise.

But it’s impossible to switch off the fact that I was born in England and spent the first few decades of my life there, and the support of any individual or team in a friendly sporting contest is down to passion.

I can’t just suddenly start yelling for the Kiwi in the pack.

It doesn’t help that sport is sacrosanct in my adopted country. A bad result in a competition is usually down to anything other than poor performance: the ref was biased or the other team cheated.

Criticise a sporting legend at your peril, especially if they wore that hallowed black jersey and ran with an odd-shaped ball.

If New Zealand ever introduced a citizenship test it would certainly include a section demanding you name the current All Blacks squad and swear your un-dying allegiance to them.

Sometimes the choice is easy – I can shout for the Kiwi if there’s no Briton in an event.

If I have to choose, well, I can be torn, but my loyalties do tend to fall on the country of my birth rather than my adopted one.

Except in rugby. I confess: I’m an All Blacks fan. In my defence I attribute this to the fact my rugby life began in NZ.

My only rugby knowledge when I moved here was Mike Yarwood’s impression of Eddie Waring.

The first match I watched on TV was the 2003 World Cup Final – I did so in confusion and had no idea how England won it.

Still my loyalties are a little divided if the All Blacks play England, when I tend to do my supporting in a more subdued manner.

Otherwise I’m rarely quiet when watching sport, a fact anyone close to me can attest to.

I grew up in a household where we all yelled at the TV as though the person running/swimming/cycling in some distant country could hear us. During the Olympics my neighbours would have been in no doubt who I was supporting, especially when the track cycling was on.

I can’t help it. It’s the passion.