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In the Lion's Den

Lone Crusader: Amber Stewart, 12, stands bravely among members of a Hurricanes supporters' club started by her dad, Craig, in their garage.

- The Press, 27 May 2006

Photo: Dean Kozanic

[Photo not supplied]

Twelve-year-old Amber Stewart may look like the odd one out, but it is the Hurricane supporters, not her, who have crossed into enemy territory.

While Amber is a diehard Crusaders fan, her father, Craig Stewart, is chairman of the Canterbury branch of the Wellington Rugby Supporters' Club.

He is convinced tonight will see his team finally emerge as the victor, but Amber is not.

She is determined to fly the flag for the red and blacks even if it means taking on her dad's Wellington mates. "I was quite nervous, but I had to show my support for the Crusaders because they are my home team," Amber said of her encounter with the "enemy".

For Wellington supporters living in Christchurch, it has been a long week and it could be an even longer one next week if their boys do not pull off a win.

Canterbury Cricket chief executive Richard Reid, who was born and raised in Wellington, has lived in Canterbury for more than four years and is not ashamed of his hometown's past shortcomings on the field. "I'm well used to losing, but I live in hope and I think the Canterbury people view me with detached amusement," he said.

"We're not very successful, so I'm hopeful, but not confident. I could easily enjoy life more as a Canterbury supporter."

The boot has been on the other foot for Crusaders fans living in Wellington. United Future leader Peter Dunne is a Crusaders fan, despite representing the Ohariu-Belmont electorate.

Deputy Police Commissioner Rob Pope, who has spent most of his adult life in Christchurch, also remains loyal to his hometown.

"I always support a winner and the Crusaders are consistent winners," he said.

But not all have remained loyal to the red and blacks. Despite spending most of her life in Christchurch, Wellington Central MP Marian Hobbs denied being a one-eyed Cantabrian. "I've got two eyes ... I can't help being born in Canterbury," she said.

Her preference was not merely due to loyalty to her electorate, she said. "I actually like the style of rugby played by the Hurricanes."

(c) The Press and Fairfax New Zealand Ltd 2006. All rights reserved.

Thanks to The Press for permission to post this article