TIME TO . . .
I love a good sports hall of fame.
At their best, halls of fame serve dual purposes – education and celebration.
They celebrate the very best of a particular sport, region or country, and they educate future generations about what made an athlete, coach or team great.
American sport does it best. Their basketball, baseball and NFL (gridiron) halls of fame, especially, are treated with great reverence, and discussion over who is “hall of fame-worthy” soaks the media landscape.
We’re a little different in this part of the world. The New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame – it’s in the Dunedin Railway Station, and you should go for a visit – is a low-key affair, and there is virtually no debate over who should be in it.
And did you even realise there is a North Otago Sports Hall of Fame?
Regular users of the Rec Centre might notice the photographs, but the hall is otherwise a semi-forgotten part of the North Otago sports community.
Happily, there is a growing push to give our hall of fame more prominence, and the Oamaru Mail will be a part of that in due course.
. . . THINK ABOUT . . .
So, who is in the North Otago Sports Hall of Fame?
At present, it includes 16 individuals and one team.
Athletics (five inductees), rowing (five) and rugby (four) dominate, as I suspect they dominate most sporting halls of fame in New Zealand.
Empire Games medallists Betty Forbes-Taylor and Jack Sutherland, multiple national champion javelin thrower Sandra McGookin and para athletes Trish Hill and Trevor EJames represent athletics; coaching legend Rusty Robertson, Olympic gold medallist Gary Robertson, Olympian Lex Clark, coxswain Peter Lindsay and the immortal 1962 coxed four represent rowing; and All Blacks Ernie Booth, Colin Gillies, Ian Hurst and Phil Gard are in for rugby.
Long-serving New Zealand hockey goalkeeper Scott Anderson, indoor hockey stalwart Gary Lee and softball great Graeme “Nobby” Robertson, who was inducted last year, round out the hall.
. . . THE HALL OF FAME
That’s a good start, but who else should be considered for the hall in future years?
The first name that pops into my head is Georgie Salter. Her impact on North Otago, Otago and New Zealand netball has been immense.
In the same vein is Ave Luxon, the godfather of North Otago boxing.
Lesser-known stars from the past like Ann McKenzie (squash) and Russell Algie (table tennis) would be worth a shout.
What about Shelley Stephens? Obviously her greatest moment was partnering Hayden Meikle in mixed doubles in the North Otago under-14 tennis team, but rising to become the No1 in New Zealand was a fair effort.
Glenn Moore, who coached the North Otago rugby team in a golden era then led the Highlanders then won a World Cup with the Black Ferns, has to be worth consideration.
The 1962 and 2002 Old Golds would also be worthy inductees.
Let’s get this debate going. Email me if you have any other suggestions.
I have only belatedly picked up that Oamaru-St Kevin’s College winning the Borton Cup had extra meaning for one player in the squad.
Craig Smith might look about 23 but he has been around cricket for an awfully long time.
Turns out he was a member of the only stand-alone St Kevin’s team to win the symbol of North Otago club cricket supremacy.
St Kevin’s beat Union by 16 runs in the 1998-99 final.
Smith was in the fourth form (now year 10) and recalled taking part in the “upset of epic proportions”, as he termed it.
Thanks to the work of North Otago cricket statistician Scott Cameron, the scorecard is just a click away on the NOCA website.
St Kevin’s batted first and was dismissed for 114. Head boy Eamon Moynihan scored 34 not out, player-coach Keith Gardiner opened with 29, and Matt George added 22. John Crombie took four for 18 for Union.
In reply, Union folded for 98. Glynn Cameron – still playing for the club – was the only batsman in double figures, scoring 29 as an opener.
Smith (four for 40), Gardiner (three for eight) and Josh Munro (three for 23) did the damage for the schoolboys.
Other notables in the St Kevin’s team included future Highlanders rugby player Matt Saunders, Richard Cooney and Dan Gard.
Cracking effort by three Waitaki Boys’ High School pupils at the New Zealand secondary schools mountain biking championships in Rotorua last week.
Luke Hayman played a starring role with a silver medal in the under-16 downhill – keep watching for more on this young fellow in the coming weeks – while Taz Selfe (fifth) and Blain Hamilton (ninth) had top-10 finishes in the under-17 cross-country.