The Charm of Alfa Romeo: How Richard Hadlee subsidized a vacation for teammates to stay his beloved prize

New Zealand great Richard Hadlee has revealed how he once had to sponsor his teammates for a week-long holiday in order to keep a car he had received as a prize.

The year was 1986, and Hadlee – named International Cricketer of that Year – was presented with an Alfa Romeo Saloon for guiding New Zealand to their maiden Test series win in Australia, in which the former fast bowler had starred with 33 wickets. However, as part of a practice back in the day, any award given to a New Zealand cricketer used to be allocated to a team fund, and this put Hadlee in a spot.

“There was a presentation on the Sydney Cricket Ground, and I was presented the keys to the car and (they) were going to ship the car to New Zealand, which I thought was nice,” Hadlee recalled while talking to Ian Smith in a Sky Sports podcast.

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“There was a point of difference. It was an ‘object’, if you like. It wasn’t until we were on the plane home that management said to me, ‘Richard, you’re going to have to sell the car and put the money into team funds.’”

But the charm of the car was such that Hadlee was willing to put it all on the line to ensure he did not lose it. There was only one way to save his precious Alfa Romeo – pay the entire amount out of his own pocket – something the Kiwi great did not hesitate in doing. He arranged a week-long stay for his teammates at his Lake Taupo resort.

“I said, ‘What if I want to keep the car?’, and he said ‘you’d have to put money out of your own pocket into team funds’ to whatever value the car was. I think it was about NZD 30-35,000, something like that,” Hadlee revealed further.

“I think that stigma of keeping the car stayed around for a long, long time. I like to think it’s all over now, but there were some people who were very, very bitter about the decision.”

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