The topic for this week's column arose organically around the "Table of Knowledge" at the local on the weekend.
The question was: What is the greatest sporting event you have ever attended?
There were a diverse bunch of offerings in reply.
A couple of the crew were very impressed at having just witnessed Winx's final triumphant go round at Randwick.
Another said they had never experienced anything like watching Cathy Freeman winning the 400m at the Sydney Olympics.
This led me to reminisce about Mike Rabbit and I hosting an Olympic Games announcement breakfast in Newcastle at 4am for 450 people.
"The winner is Syd-en-ey".
Quite a moment that, particularly for us. We all declared an '86 America's Cup style public holiday and didn't go to work.
The wife of the auditor of our cafe's tipping competition (race horses) was in a quandary.
She had been in South Africa for the Rugby World Cup when the Springboks took it out, but had also been daring enough (I would suggest dangerously unhinged enough...) to run with the bulls in Pamplona.
She couldn't decide which had been more exciting.
I ran the question by the Mercury's leading sports reporter Michael Hartshorn.
He surprised me by revealing himself to be a closet petrol-head and straight away went for the 1986 Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide where Nigel Mansell's tyre blew out 19 laps from the finish, handing both the race and the Drivers' Championship to Alain Prost.
Other offerings were more the types of contenders you'd expect, such as Newcastle's first premiership in 1997.
I had a fairly tough time deciding myself.
I've been to three AFL Grand Finals, each with attendance of more than 100,000. Now that is atmosphere.
I watched Gary Player at Royal Sydney in the 1969 Australian Open.
Player had been leading comfortably well into the final round when a last minute electrical storm hit with winds strong enough to blow the scoreboard over and the pins out of the holes.
The players wanted to walk off but the officials refused to stop play.
Player, whose immediate competition (Guy Wolstenholme) was now sitting comfortably in the clubhouse, dug in, held on, and in impossible conditions made par on the last to win by a shot. Incredible.
But, in the end, I have to go back to 1962. Newcastle were playing England at Newcastle No.1 Sports Ground. Newcastle, captained by Cessnock's Don Schofield, and containing the likes of Les Johns, John Satler and Bandy Adams, beat the (until then) undefeated Lions 23-18 in front of a crowd of 22,000.
I was one of those 22,000, and you'd have to consider that, given future developments, that match made a not insubstantial impact on my then 16-year-old self...
So, I'd like to put it out there to the readers: What has been the greatest sporting event, or even just individual sporting performance, that you have ever borne witness to?
Actually, let's make this a competition. There'll be a prize, a Vittoria Coffee hamper.
Judging will, more than likely, occur at the next Table of Knowledge assembly.
Criteria will involve the greatness of the event, the quality of your experience and, the level of effort given to verifying more outlandish claims.
While I'm at it, I'll award another hamper to the best 'bucket list' suggestion; an event you really want to see. The criteria will be different here, with creativity being rewarded.
So, two Vittoria prize hampers - one for the best sporting event somebody's seen, and the other for one you wish you could.
Two Vittoria prize hampers - one for the best sporting event somebody's seen, and the other for one you wish you could.
Email your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm getting my skates on to get to ice hockey
Speaking of things you'd like to see, I've never seen a live ice hockey match.
Newcastle has an ice hockey team, Northstars, and they've just won their first two rounds in the start of this year's competition.
I've been vaguely aware of something happening but had in no way realised the extent to which the sport of ice hockey has grown in Australia.
The League (AIHL) is a competition of eight teams - two from Sydney, two from Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth and Newcastle.
It turns out the sport has a surprisingly long history in Australia, beginning with the opening of the Melbourne Glacarium in 1906.
In that same year our first recorded ice hockey match occurred, between a Victorian team and a side of visiting American sailors from the warship USS Baltimore.
The match was recorded in Punch at the time as, "very pretty and kaleidoscopic in its changes".
You'd have to conclude that the game has changed quite a bit since then, given what I've seen on the television; and the fact that the Australians reportedly held the visitors to a 1-1 draw would seem to reinforce this.
The championship trophy for the modern AIHL is the Goodall Cup, which, I was surprised to learn, Newcastle has won six times since 2000.
Next best is Melbourne with four.
It seems ice hockey in Australia is growing ever more serious, the quality of play such that sides are now featuring imported players from the NHL.
The Northstars, in combination with the local talent, have imported a Slovakian and a couple of Canadians.
Home for the Northstars is the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium at Warners Bay, and they have a double-header there this weekend, facing Perth on Saturday and Adelaide on Sunday. I reckon I'll be heading out there to have a look.