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Beige Brigade Interview

CW: Who created the Beige Brigade and how did it start?

BB: The Beige Brigade was founded by Mike and I last century. What happened was that Dan Vettori got an old 80s kit (Bruce Edgar’s according to the label) and Mike would wear it along to sports events, university lectures, taking his nana out for walks, when he was doing collections for charity, that sort of thing. He got a lot of feedback – everyone asking whether there was anywhere that they could get horrendous retro cricket clothing. So things started about then – the sewing machine was pulled out into the lounge at the flat and the construction of brown and tan Beige Brigade kit began. Our indoor cricket team in Wellington then had the Beige Brigade kit as our inspiration come finals time and the team went on tour to the World Series in Aussie when we slapped the Australians around for most of the summer. We managed to be interesting enough to get on telly a bit so it started to get a bit silly from then on.

CW: Why Beige?

BB: It’s an icon colour for cricket in new Zealand. It’s bloody awful too so quite eye-catching. It’s just so uncool. With NZ playing in a multitude of mostly terrible colours, and now happy to be playing in the conservative black gear, donning Beige Brigade kit has become emblematic for those calling themselves passionate NZ cricketing supporters.

CW: What has been the Beige Brigade’s most memorable experience?

BB: There are memorable experiences at every game we go to – plenty of them completely unrelated to the cricket.

Mike’s sensational catch on the boundary to win $1000 at the Basin in the Catch A 6 competition was quite wonderful. We’d had a big night at the Vespa Lounge the night before and were watching the game on TV when we realised NZ were going to slog for a bit and then declare. It was a very dull game against Zimbabwe until that point. We got to the Basin and set up camp at cow corner – Mike was obsessed with catching a six and mucked up about 10 practice throws that we gave him with the tennis ball. Then Astle got hold of one and smashed it our way – Mike was up, barged a couple of Indian spectators out of the way and took a lovely catch. Later in the day Chris Martin dropped a goober at mid-on off BGK Walker and they had a split-screen showing “the club player on the left, and the test player on the right”. It was brilliant.

Another was when Craig McMillan was out for a few beers with us in Taupo during a one-day series. He’d just shaved his head. Two days later on the bank at the Napier one-dayer we demanded he take off his hat and unveil his new haircut. He refused for several overs then we yelled (via megaphone) “If you don’t show us your lid we’ll tell David Trist [NZ coach] what time you got home in Taupo.” The hat came off 1 second later.

CW: …and the least memorable?

BB: Not surprisingly the least memorable things haven’t been remembered. Getting told off by the security guards at the Caketin and the Basin for yelling too noisily is always ridiculous. They’re a mixture of the unemployed and the unemployable – such a marked contrast between their approach and that of the security guards at places like Lord’s where the guy keeping an eye on our stand high-fived (Adam from Ireland) us on our way into our seats each day and was just a wonderful chap.

CW: What were your thoughts on the recent Twenty20 Cup international? And the Hamish Marshall hairdo?

BB: The Twenty20 was pretty good – there were a lot of incentives for people to get along – beige, haircuts, moustaches, Australia, tour opener, sunny night, first ever Twenty20. Some of those factors aren’t going to be there next time so it will be interesting to see what happens on a cloudy day against the West Indies next year. As a game it’s all about momentum – if you slip behind by losing a few wickets then you’re stuffed so from a cricket watcher’s viewpoint it lacks the ebb and flow that even a one-dayer provides.

Hamish Marshall from Kaipara Flats was magnificent. He has become the people’s champion, and backing it up with a ton in the first Test, and some solid knocks in the one-dayers won’t have harmed that status.

CW: With the popularity of the Beige Brigade growing in a big way where do you see the group heading?

BB: We’ll just keep on doing what we do – going along to games and supporting the New Zealand team along with chipping away at a few beers and getting a bit silly. The Beige Brigade isn’t so much a group as a lifestyle – we’ll do this for as long as it’s fun. We’d like to try and do our bit to get NZ fans supporting the team (and other Kiwi sports teams) overseas – wearing beige to cricket in New Zealand is in some ways a bit too easy – it’s a hell of a lot more fun donning the colours in a foreign country and helping the team out with some rowdy support.

CW: …and what do you make of your comparisons with the Barmy Army?

BB: We have a lot of respect for the Barmy Army – punters in the UK have a real culture of going along to sporting events and supporting their teams come hell or high water. In NZ it’s a bit different – we tend to go and support our teams if we think they can win. That is a crucial difference but we reckon people will see that the Army get along to games and have a cracking good time whether the cricket is good, bad or ugly and that’s where we’re coming from too.

CW: Has the Beige Brigade received any form of support from NZ Cricket?

BB: No. They just don’t get it. They don’t understand that the cult of support that is the Beige Brigade is a very positive thing for them – we get people out of the lounge and down to the ground, we get people talking about the fun side of cricket. We revel in our “unofficial” status and we disagree with some of the things that they do. We sent them our first $100 from a couple of shirts sold and pleaded with them not to put it toward naff marketing ideas like the Mad Caps. We said we were going to get the NZ team back in beige – Sneds sent us a curt reply talking about how the brand had moved on, etc, etc. Quite funny to see the team back in the gear last month – as promised by us!

NZC have also said they want to work with us and offered us the royalties they would receive from the sale of their W-Star Chinese made beige shirts. We’re not interested in that sort of a deal – money tainted with them ripping off an idea that we have poured a lot of time and effort into just wasn’t the go for us.

CW: What has been the Black Caps’ view on the Beige Brigade?

BB: We have a great relationship with the players. We know a few of the chaps and they recognise we’re not the psycho fans who hang around in the hotel pestering them. We get along to the games, tour overseas to watch them play, and we have a few beers with them along the way. They appreciate the support – and we’re there for the next game win, lose or draw.

CW: How many percent of your members are female?

BB: No idea, but plenty of girls are involved – beige is sexy not sexist. We’ve got Baby Beige on the way too so we’ll be bringing beige to a whole new generation.

CW: Here are some questions from Cricket Web members

Somerset: What’s your favourite moment in New Zealand cricket history?

BB: These are set out on The Chaps part of our website. One particular favourite not mentioned there is Dan Vettori vs Australia in Hobart. He takes a catch and throws the ball up to celebrate then runs in for a team cuddle. The ball comes hurtling down into the huddle and appropriately smashes into him. Chris Cairns mursering the ball to all corners of the Gabba against Sth Africa at Brisbane was brilliant, as was Dan’s ton at Hamilton last season. On the old highlights videos anything featuring Richard de Groen is always quite good.

lord_of_darkness: How Much drinking capacity does an average Beige Brigade member have?

BB: We can and do put away a lot of Lion Brown, so that should steel us for anything alcoholic anywhere in the world. At the Adelaide Oval they serve a disgusting beer called West End Draught and at games there the drinking capacity is always a lot lower. Just to clarify as well, The Beige Brigade enjoy a few beers but we genuinely love the cricket – it’s not about getting smashed and yelling abuse. It’s about getting a few beers in, enjoying the game and chipping away with a few insights into the player who is fielding in front of us.

Voltman: What do they think of the underarm81.co.nz crew?

BB: We’re embarrassed for them. There’s no passion or heart there – the fact is that they’re out there selling gear just for the sake of making money – getting it made in China and degrading themselves selling it outside the cricket grounds. Have some pride and get inside the ground and support the team we say.

Voltman: How long do they see the fad lasting?

BB: It’s not a fad, it’s a lifestyle. We see it lasting as long as Test cricket lasts.

Retox: How do you join the Beige Brigade?

BB: Chip away at us on beigebrigade@xtra.co.nz

BoyBrumby: Australia v England in the World Cup final; who’d you root for?!

BB: The Poms every time. We’ve enjoyed giving and taking it from Ashley Giles, Graeme Thorpe and Andrew Caddick over the years. The English players are wonderfully interactive with the punters in the stands and on the banks and that’s great. Generally the Aussies are a bit dour – Kasprowicz & McGrath excepted.

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