One thing’s certain, the Auckland Mystics know how to do mascots. From the oddly melancholic LG dog , to ‘Netty’ the dancing Fisher and Paykell … ummm, person with a netball for a head, it’s all there. And it works. It was a big day for the LG Mystics, playing their first game of the season in the full heat of North Harbour’s Furnace, trying to crawl back from last weeks less than impressive loss to the Waikato Magic.
This week’s opponents were the Central Pulse. There was a tense vibe in stadium and the pregame house band, an affable acoustic guitar duo, captured the tone perfectly with a rousing version of “Sex on Fire”. A hit with the multitude of mothers and their six year old daughters in attendance.
Full disclosure: this is only the second game of real live netball I’ve seen. Let’s just say my knowledge of the game is… limited. I’ve never been a fan because I can’t get past the rules-based nature of it. It reminds me of a phrase my colleague has a habit of jovially reciting, “rules control the fun!”. True, but sometimes I just want to see people jump and run without fear of hearing a whistle. Now that’s out of the way, lets get down to tonight’s action.
The second half saw Rawina Everitt take over centre from Temepara George, who moved to wing attack. Everitt seems a little lost on the court, and it didn’t help that Temepara George was no longer controlling the movement of the ball. Anyway, it didn’t matter in the end. After an impressive comeback, the Pulse ran out of belief and ability, passes weren’t connecting and the ball struggled to get down the court. Mystics won 54-50.
What made this game interesting, or at least semi-interesting, was that it contained what I didn’t think possible in netball: a comeback. OK, it was only from 8 points down, but in netball that seems like the equivalent of a 20 point comeback in basketball. We’ve talked about this before on this site, but perhaps netball needs a few rule changes to make this kind of thing more regular.
Here’s a novel idea, that admittedly I think fellow DeadBall contributor Justin came up with, start a rebel league like basketball did with the ABA in the 1970s. You could have two point shots, dunking, lay-ups and cool nicknames for the players. For a game that has two mascots, rousing pregame entertainment and more than enthusiastic fans, it’s odd the on court action lacks that wow-factor. It needs more show-time, damn it!
You wouldn’t watch this league? I would. I also suggest a prison league, which would essentially bring to the surface the inherent aggressiveness that bubbled just below the surface of the two games I’ve watched.
Or maybe it doesn’t need it. Everyone at the Furnace seemed genuinely engrossed in the game, despite the fact it never really seemed that there’d be much chance of the Pulse winning Maybe netball is meant to be appreciated on a level I don’t get. It’s not about the comeback, it might be about something simpler. I don’t know what, but it seems that way.