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Support grows for Hall of Fame

Robert Algie with his 1986 Commonwealth Games wrestling silver medal. PHOTOS/FILE

COGGIE’S CALL

The feedback I’ve got since floating the idea of starting a Wairarapa Sports Hall of Fame in the Times-Age on April 16 continues to surprise me.

First, I heard from a sports organisation that was in the early steps of establishing something along those lines.

Then I was contacted by one of the service clubs indicating that they and possibly other affiliated clubs would be keen to assist with creating a Hall of Fame to recognise our sports greats.

I’ve also had several phone calls and emails saying what about this person and this team, but more about those a bit later on.

To start a worthwhile representation of our sporting history and something Wairarapa can take pride in, we need a permanent facility.

That probably excludes my idea of simply displaying some photos or memorabilia in a pub or club, but then again it won’t need to be too extensive.

Once that is sorted, the criteria would be the next progression.

I took my initial lead from the New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame, which uses five years after retirement or after an event, in the case of a sports team’s achievement, before induction.

Wai-Bush captain Mike Robinson with the 2005 NPC Third Division Trophy.

Because many of our sports stars leave to further their sporting careers in the bigger centres, there would also need to be some criteria around their relevance to Wairarapa sport.

There would have to be a significant local connection, eg where would the likes of athletics great Sir Murray Halberg, born in Eketahuna, and former England and Lions rugby international Riki Flutey, from Martinborough, sit?

The initial selection process would follow. My first thoughts were 20 original inductees, five individual sportspeople, five sports teams, and five officials, coaches, administrators, media, etc.

However, once I started digging, the further and further I dug, I unearthed some real gems that should be recognised.

So may be as many as 40 or 50 original inductees could be considered, with further inductees to be admitted annually or every second year, possibly at the Wairarapa Times-Age Sports Awards.

That would give us a comprehensive history of Wairarapa’s proud sporting history.

As far as some of the other potential inductees, the suggestions have been flowing in, such as the following.

The 1982 Wairarapa tennis team, who won the Christie Cup, the central region’s prized challenge trophy, with an upset 18-6 victory over Manawatu.

Tom ‘Buster’ Sutherland a bronze medal winner in Shooting’s full bore rifle at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica.

Wrestlers Robert Algie, silver medallist in the heavyweight division at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, and Nigel Sargent, light heavyweight bronze medallist in Brisbane in 1982.

New Zealand hockey international Richard Iorns, who toured Australia in the 1950s and was unlucky to miss Olympic selection in 1956, as he was deemed too young.

The 2005 and 2006 Wairarapa-Bush rugby teams who won the last NPC Third Division title and the first Meads Cup under the coaching of Peter Russell.

There are also the many All Blacks from Wairarapa, especially in the 1920s and 1980s heydays.

There are also the iconic events that attracted big followings, such as the 1963 Golden Games at Queen Elizabeth Park, which featured some of the world’s greatest athletes of the time, including Sir Peter Snell and Australian Ron Clarke, who set 17 world records throughout his career.

The Masterton Motorcycle Street Races, Penlee Speedway, and the Golden Shears also deserve some recognition.

Where to from here?

A lot of hard work. Let’s get it done.

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