Damn reading through this thread has had me laughing and a little jealous (@dogmeat ) and has really had me wandering down memory lane and pulling out some long forgotten, or best forgotten memories.
So brushes with fame/sport stars:
Remembering that I was only living in NZ until 10 when the family moved to Canada, the only retrospective famous person was at Target Road Elementary School in Glenfield, Auckland, Rachel Hunter's older sister was in my class and Rachel herself was in my brother's class two years behind.
In case you are wondering, all the family looks went into Rachel.
I know I have told the story previously about catching up with the non-playing AB's who were having lunch in North Sydney on the Friday before the infamous 2003 RWC semifinal against Australia when I spoke with Tana about his availability so I won't repeat it. Funny enough, in 2010 the wife and I moved to Sydney's upper North Shore and we were living near Stirling Mortlock and used to see him far too regularly but I always gave him a cold shoulder due to that intercept. I have no doubt he felt the snub ;-).
In Canada, I played rep union (at 10 and 12) and when 17 I tried out for an national age team. I was competing against a huge number of players including one real standout... Gareth Rees - yes the same one who then went on to play in 4 consecutive Rugby World Cups.
Played in a possibles v probables game of 4 x 20 minute quarters with and against him as the sides got mixed up at each break. Damn he was a good rugby player for a Canuck!
Unfortunately for me, I didn't even make it into the squad and to be honest, never deserved it anyway, just wasn't good enough. That game turned out to be my last until moving to Aus in my early 20's.
In Aus, like @Mokey I worked in journalism for 12 years at Australian Associated Press (AAP) where there used to be a regular publishers cup in both Rugby/League and Cricket.
Played with and against a number of former Rugby/League internationals who were ring-ins, especially for News Corp, dirty cheating bastards!
The most notable was a game that was one that was a 1 half league/1 half union blend game and AAP had joined forces with Fairfax newspapers and we had Mr. Peter Fitzsimons start for us. However he got knocked out after about 30 seconds when he went up to regather the short kick off and got absolutely clobbered by a couple of then current 1st grade League players. By today's rules both those players who hit him would be red carded but given it was a "friendly", there wasn't even a penalty awarded.
As a group our team protested and almost walked away from the game as they very clearly targeted Fitzsimons as he was and still is a bit of a boofball basher in his columns. Fitzsimons was a really decent guy though, both before and after the game and after waking up, wobbling off the field and getting checked out, at the end of the game he shook the hands of both the boof heads who hit him and said something to the effect of "nice hit". You could see they both felt pretty low after that and I always remember his response to that situation.
In a publisher's cup cricket match in the mid-90's, I can't remember which team we were facing but they had brought in recently retired Mike Whitney as a ring in. He was opening the bowling and absolutely no one from the AAP side wanted to face him so I as a very ordinary cricketer who batted middle order and threw down some slow/medium pies stood up and said I would open if no one else did as did another guy named Will Swanton who is a Sydney Journo of some note.
Now I had never played cricket growing up in Canada but had played a bit of baseball quite well so when I connected it was usually a 4 or 6. And then the first good ball would get me out. I had only played about 2 seasons of park cricket with the local Kareela (Southerland Shire) side as well as a previous season of Publishers Cup previously so I wasn't experienced or good in any way at all.
So we padded up and trundled out almost wetting ourselves at the same time. Whitney started off bowling well within himself off a short run up but as the deliveries went by and neither of us made any contact, you could see he was getting annoyed. About halfway through his second over as he was something like 0 - 0 off 9 or so deliveries, you could see he was getting even more annoyed, frustrated and pissed off and then he started lifting the pace.
Well fuck me dead I couldn't even see the ball except for a red blur which I somehow managed to get my bat out of the way of.
His third over, he was steaming in off a much longer run up and these balls were whizzing past, somehow missing stumps or pad for LBW. I had somehow even managed to get the bat in position to block a few that didn't just whiz by. Admittedly after a bit your eye does start adjusting to the ball even at that pace.
On his 4th over, with his stats at 0 - 0 off 18, Whitney was firing them down at Will and I think it was the 4th ball of the over, he bowled this cracker right at Will's pads and Will somehow managed to get his bat in a good defensive position and the ball hit the absolute middle of the bat and rocketed away straight back past Whitney for 4.
The look on Mike Whitney's face was absolutely priceless and to be honest, quite frightening, especially for will knowing he had his last 2 balls to face of that over. I was glad it wasn't me who had to somehow manage to survive those last two deliveries in that over but Will managed to survive.
Between overs, we took off our helmets as were were both sweating profusely, Mike walked up to Will offered his hand, shook it, and then proceeded to draw an "X" on his forehead with his index finger and said mockingly, "that's where the next delivery is going" and walked off to fine leg.
The next bowler the opposition brought on was a spinner to save Mike's and the other opening bowlers last 2 or 4 overs (every bowler was limited to 6 or was it 8 overs only) who I faced, hit his first ball for a 6 and got stumped by his second.
Mike ended up with figures like 4 - 4 off all his 6 or 8 overs but Will and I had an unbeaten partnership against him and Will's 4 was the only runs scored against his bowling.
Another claim to fame is that in Canada, I was a school champion short course swimmer and held provincial school age records. In 1985 at a meet held at the University of Calgary (UofC), I swam against the then reigning 100m freestyle gold medal winner, Rowdy Gains, over 50 m long course. Now at the time I was only a part time swimmer and didn't train exclusively for swimming but was an 11 second flat 25 meter (short course) freestyler but struggled over longer distances due to a lack of dedicated training.
Rowdy was a bit of a hero at the time, one of the reasons for that was that he was smaller than most other swimmers when you see them on TV. When I stood next to him in the warmups only then did I realise he was still a reasonably taller bloke at 6' 1" (from wikipedia) and I'm only 5' 10 1/2" - 179 cm - so damn those other swimmers must be tall!
Anyway, managed to finish within half a body length pushing him all the way. 3rd place was a body and half behind me which is a lot at 50m.
After that, I was thinking I was pretty shit hot and so off I went and organised a tryout with the UofC dolphins in front of Aussie swimming legend Mr Don Talbot himself.
They told me to warm up for 15 minutes, then I would do a 25 then 50 metre sprint with only 2 minutes rest in between. Getting ready for the 25m I saw Talbot watching so I made sure to give it my all and got really close to 11 seconds flat. Got out of the water, focused on my breathing and recovery preparing for the next 50m, all the time whilst watching for a reaction from the legend himself.
Talbot then turned his back, said something to his assistant who came over and said don't worry about the 50 m as his comment was, "fast enough but too old and too short". And there endith my swimming career - I had just turned 18.
In NZ rugby, my one and only game of Presidents Cup, I had the honour to play with and against Pita Alatini as my cousin was the team manager for the Pakuranga Presidents Cup side and is friends with Pita.
We played at Pakuranga oval against Counties and he played 1 half for us and then swapped sides and played for Counties as he has an affiliation with them. Plays Presidents Cup well within himself but still made everyone else look pedestrian and is supremely fit and gifted even in his late 40s. Also a really nice guy, as is his wife, as we met them at several social events including my cousins 50th birthday. We remain Facebook friends.
Apologies to all for that long-winded posting as I meandered down memory lane and kudo' to any who make it this far.