Joseph Romanos writes:
Since shearer David Fagan’s knighthood was announced in the New Year honours list, there have been some surprisingly ignorant questions posed, particularly on social media.
Fagan? What about Dan Carter or Brendon McCullum? That’s a common sentiment.
Our honours system is disappointingly flawed, partly because it has become so political. However, the decision to knight Fagan was good.
Unlike our cricketers and rugby players, who compete in a massive media spotlight, and are supported by marketing and comms staff, shearers are semi-anonymous figures.
Fagan won 16 Golden Shears crowns (the Wimbledon of his sport), plus 11 world titles. Yet he could walk down Queen St or Lambton Quay and hardly a head would turn in his direction.
I think it was a great call, knighting him.
I once asked farmer and former All Black captain Brian Lochore how shearing compared with rugby as a sport.
“Shearing at the pace they do in competition is very, very difficult,” he said. “There’s the hand-eye co-ordination and the whole body has to be working.
“You’re holding the sheep with your legs and your concentration has to be full-on. At that speed, if you make one slip, you’re gone.
“It’s physically very gruelling and then having to bend over like that makes it even tougher. David Fagan is up there with our greatest sportsmen.”
High praise indeed.
I love how our shearing champions come from places like Lawrence, Rakaia, Apiti, Frankton, Te Puke, Alexandra, Wellsford, Gisborne, Milton, Puhoi, Orepuki, Taumarunui, Pio Pio and Riversdale – far away from the flashing lights and big-city media.
Fagan is a Te Kuiti man, as is another New Zealand sports knight, Colin Meads. They sometimes run into each other at the pub on Friday nights and share a beer. Good down-to-earth blokes.
Meads has for decades rightly been feted as one of our All Black legends.
Now Fagan has found himself not on the farming pages but the front pages, not a television news curiosity, but a lead story.
Yes, the All Blacks were magnificent in 2015, and so were Lydia Ko, Lisa Carrington and others.
But David Fagan sits comfortably alongside them in the pantheon of sports greats.
A very New Zealand Knight.