My quest to be a Crusader Horseman

Over the course of the 2019 Super 14 season I was in constant email contact with Brooke Freeman, Media Manager for the Crusaders. It had always been my goal to be a Crusader Horseman. Here is the correspondence between myself and Canterbury Rugby. 

INITIAL LETTER
Crusaders Level 1
5 Durham Street
Christchurch
New Zealand

14th January 2009

Ozy Mandias
Pyes Pa
Tauranga
New Zealand

Dear fellow Crusaders,

Despite living in Tauranga for the last 4 years I have remained a loyal Crusader supporter. I watch every game with vigor and passion, despite being heavily outnumbered. I have flown my Crusader Flag proudly on all occasions I see fit. Despite this, I have felt an empty void in my life for sometime. I can’t put my finger in this feeling but it is real sense of something ‘missing’ in order to bring balance to my busy life.

However, in a moment of brilliance, when reflecting on my New Years resolution I believe I have found a way to full this personal void.With this new found desire, in the 14 days following New Years, I have been in training for the position of Crusaders mascot. This has involved daily trips to the gym to increase my upper body strength as well as morning runs along Mount Maunganui beach to improve my aerobic capacity.

The reason I write this letter is to confirm when and where the auditions for the Crusaders Mascot will be held. Has a date been set yet?Once I have a date I can tailor my training programme, book my flights and tinker with my gluten free diet to ensure everything is perfect for the audition day.

Furthermore, could you please give me a run down of some of the skills that will be tested during the audition? A friend of mine who tried out for the Blues mascot job was a little taken back when he was asked to dress up as a pirate and backward three and half somersault. While the pirate thing was okay he had only trained for a forward somersault.

Thank you for you time and I await your reply with interest.

GO THE CRUSADERS!!!!!

Yours sincerely,

Ozy Mandias

BROOKE’S REPLY
Ozzy Mandias

Pyes Pa

Tauranga

18th January 2009

Brooke Freeman
Promotions Manager Canterbury Rugby Football Union
Level 1, 5 Durham St

PO Box 755

Christchurch

Hi Ozzy,

Thanks for your email. Our Crusaders mascots are the Crusaders Horsemen and unfortunately we don’t have auditions for the Horsemen. Thanks for your support of the Crusaders.

Kind regards, Brooke

MY REPLY

Brooke Crusaders Level 1
5 Durham Street
Christchurch
New Zealand

22nd January 2009

Ozy Mandias
Pyes Pa
Tauranga
New Zealand

Kindest Brooke,

Thanks for your prompt email and gentle prod in the right direction. I cursed when I read your reply as I have been to that many Crusaders games I knew that the horsemen were the mascots. All those long runs along the beach to improve my own fitness have been worthless.

Furthermore I need to apologise for the time it has taken to reply but it has taken me that long to find a horse suitable to be considered one of the horsemen. Fortunately I had a friend who had another friend who knows someone with a horse that he was willing to sell. Unfortunately, when I arrived at his small farm I found out it was more of a donkey then the free running stallion I required. Disappointed I looked around but it is extremely hard to find a suitable horse, able to withstand the harsh Canterbury winter nights, in the sunny Bay of Plenty. Added to this, the economic downturn New Zealand is currently experiencing is not actually affecting the price of horses so my only option was to take the donkey.

At this stage I will be honest with you Brooke, my donkey is not in the best shape. I have carefully scanned my DVD’s of past Crusader’s games and have determined that the average time for the horsemen to do one lap of the hallowed turf. It takes an average of 27.23 seconds, rounded to 2 decimal places. Currently, running downhill, whip working overtime and with the wind at my back, my donkey, which I have affectionately name Blackadder, covers the same distance in 2min 17 seconds.

I have included a picture so that you can see how things are going.
Sorry the quality of the picture is not that flash. You can see that ‘Blackadder’ seems to be enjoying himself and I am sure you’ve noted the excellent outfit I am wearing. My wife spent hours designing and making this and was actually my Christmas present last year. Despite the confidence on my face in this photo I am under no illusions here, especially after my last training effort down the beach with Blackadder. It was hard enough just thinking I had to be a normal mascot but now I have to learn to ride a donkey. Clearly there are some areas that I need to work on prior to the first game.

Equally as clear is the fact that this is not your problem, Brooke. You are probably far too busy with the Super 14 season approaching to be worrying about horses, donkeys and what I got for Christmas. I noticed in your contact details on your letter that you are promotions manager. That sounds like a difficult and demanding job but it seems that you are probably a long way from the person that I am looking for within the Crusaders set up. Do you have a ‘Head of Horses’ or a ‘Pre Game Promotions Manager’ within the Crusaders organisation that you could perhaps provide me with the contact details for? If not perhaps you could pass on the contact details for the ‘Head Horseman’ so that I can check about becoming one of the elite. One of the important things I have to tell the Head Horseman is that I am unavailable for the first round of the Super 14.
Firstly, despite being an optimist (person that is and not the boat) I can’t see Blackadder being ready even though I am upping his training next week.
Secondly, it is Valentines Day and being a ‘man of love’ I am busy that day.

Thanks for your time Brooke and I do hope you have the necessary contact address for me to carry on my dream.

Yours in the Crusaders,

Ozy Mandias

Email contact then became a little less frequent from Brooke’s end but the following are my attempts at getting a reply.

NEXT REPLY

Brooke Crusaders Level 1
5 Durham Street
Christchurch
New Zealand

11 February 2009

Ozy Mandias
Pyes Pa
Tauranga
New Zealand

Kindest Brooke,

Your latest reply must have got lost in the World Wide Web as the contact details for the Horsemen didn’t come through.. If you recall last time I was having trouble with my donkey and I had my doubts about whether he could handle the two required laps of Lancaster Park. Unfortunately my donkey died last week and this has caused me to have a big rethink about my involvement. The veterinarian said Blackadder died due to undue force on his hind legs.
Between you and me I think this was due to a special maneuver I had been practicing which involved me actually standing on the donkeys back while he ran along blindfolded. I felt this could have been such a draw card for your pregame routine and we nearly had the routine sorted. Blackadders funeral is next week, after which he will be turned into glue. This is unfortunate and I will miss him as we developed a special bond in the few months we knew each other.

Despite this I always look on the positive side of things. As my mother used to say ‘If life gives you a lemon, make lemonade’. With this news I will have to decline being involved as one of the horsemen. I know this will be a shock to you and I am sorry because someone as organised as you would have already sent the advertising to the printer.

Rest assured Brooke I am thinking of a way I can still be involved and when it comes to me you will be the first to know. Take care and lets hope for a great start to the campaign Ozy Mandias p.s. With Blackadders funeral coming up I was wondering if you could write a small poem that could be read at the glue factory prior to his transformation.

Kind Regards

Ozy Mandias

Still no action as yet another letter was sent. Notice however, despite this lack of contact I am still remaining upbeat!!!

NEXT REPLY

Brooke Crusaders Level 1
5 Durham Street
Christchurch
New Zealand

28th April 2009

Ozy Mandias
Pyes Pa
Tauranga
New Zealand

Kindest Brooke,

Long time and still no reply.

That was a shame because if you remember my horse had just died and I requested a little poem for his funeral. Sadly the funeral had to go ahead without any Crusaders input. Equally sad was the large sections of silence in the funeral, as you poem was going to be the main item. Despite this I have moved on and hold no grudges against you or the Crusader organisation. Lets just put that incident behind us and both look forward.

Boy, the Crusaders have had a rocky year. Up one week, down the next. This week is a big game, in fact the next three are all must wins. Don’t you worry though Brooke, I have been a Crusaders man longer than most and when our backs are against the wall that is when we are at our best. With this in mind I have worked out a way I can contribute to the Crusaders year.
Sadly being a member of the elite horsemen seems to be a bit of a mates club with a secret handshake. Having no mates and a dislike of shaking hands, this made it difficult to get a ride this season.

That is why I have come up with the following proposal. I think our boys will win the next two games easily. That leaves the Auckland game as the clincher. Like you Brooke, I hate the Blues with a passion, but they will be tough. Therefore I am going to go to the ground, dressed as one of the horsemen. If you remember my wife had made a stunning outfit, so I propose to wear it to the game. I will also take my sons wooden rocking horse and sit on the horse and wave my sword ( which I have made) for the entire 80 minutes. This hometown feel will be what we need to see us over the line and into the semis.

There is one hitch to my master plan, TICKETS. Tickets for a game of this importance are about as hard to find as an honest lawyer. I was therefore wondering if the Crusaders could use one of their free ticket for me and my wife ( unfortunately she wont be dressed up as she thinks I mad) so we can offer this level of support to the team.

I realise I am asking alot, but then again Brooke there is alot riding on this game. Nothing ventured nothing gained. The crusaders pride them selves on innovation and planning. This is our chance Brooke, for ou and I together to do something special for this team. Just think if they win, it might all be down to your foresight in giving me two free tickets.

Be bold Brooke and I look forward to a positive reply.

Your mate Ozy

Finally our relationship came to an end when the Crusaders lost to the Bulls. This is my final letters.

FINAL REPLY

Brookster
Crusaders Level 1
5 Durham Street
Christchurch
New Zealand

24th May 2009

Ozy Mandias
Pyes Pa
Tauranga
New Zealand

Kindest Brooke,

Today our relationship must end just like our beloved Crusaders did last night. I am sure you got up to watch the game, unless of course you managed to be part of the travelling party. Sadly this season has been up and down but you must be as proud as I am with our team.
Toddy is certainly a superb coach.

I had half expected the boys to do the business in SA and that would have meant a final over in the fog valley known as Hamilton. for me that would have been only an hours ride my car, or fifteen hours on my donkey!!!!

So just as Ritchie and the boys hang up their gear for the season I do the same. My Crusader outfit goes to get dry cleaned and then carefully stored in my garage. My rocking horse I talked about last time will also be put away but judging by the cold weather we have had it will be lucky if it doesn’t find its way into our fire by June.

Brooke it has been great getting to know you this year. Your emails, despite being a little infrequent, have been a great source of encouragement to my battle of being a Crusaders supporter up in the Bay of Plenty.
Unfortunately many of the ideas I had to support the Rednblack machine didn’t come off, so I will think carefully for next season and will try and tone down some of my ideas to make them more acceptable to mainstream society.
Keep up the good work with the Red n Black machine.

Your mate
Ozy Mandias

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