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Kiwis upset the odds to clinch hockey gold

Kiwis upset the odds to clinch hockey gold

22/05/2014

When New Zealand’s men clinched their only Olympic field hockey gold at the 1976 Games in Montreal, it truly was a victory against all the odds.

The sport was just emerging from the complete dominance of the Asian powerhouses India and Pakistan at the Olympic Games, with Germany breaking their stranglehold with victory at Munich in 1972.

Going into the tournament at the Molson Stadium it was the Germans, Australians and Dutch who were tipped as the favourites, while the once-mighty India also harboured high hopes after claiming their first World Cup triumph in Kuala Lumpur the year before.

New Zealand were considered to have an outside medal chance although a previous Olympic best of sixth didn’t instill even the most partisan observer with much optimism.

However, Montreal 1976 staged the first Olympic hockey tournament to be played on an artificial surface, creating an element of the unknown and increasing chances of a surprise.

The Kiwis scraped through the qualifying rounds and into the semi-finals after a 1-0 victory over Spain in which three extra time periods were required for victory.

Inspired by captain Tony Ineson, New Zealand battled to a 2-1 victory over Netherlands in the last four to set up a gold medal showdown against neighbours Australia.

After a goalless first half Ineson broke the deadlock with 28 minutes remaining on the clock.

From then on it was all Australia pressure including a sickening moment 11 minutes from the end when a shot shattered the kneecap of Kiwi goalkeeper Trevor Manning.

He miraculously saw out the remainder of the match when many others would have been on their way to hospital.

As the final whistle went there were scenes of unrestrained joy among the New Zealand team, who had seen off their oldest rivals to clinch the biggest accolade in their sport.

Montreal 1976

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