The latest 'Legends of Northland Sport' were inducted as part of the 2021 Conbrio Northland Sports Awards that were this year held in an online format.
Whangārei's Ann Muir was announced as Northland Legend of Sport #31 for her outstanding career in bowls, not only as a player but as a coach and administrator.
Muir played 26 games for New Zealand winning a bronze medal in the Women's Fours at the 1994 Commonwealth Games, holds several national titles along with masters' achievements and received the prestigious honour of a Queen's Service Medal for services to bowls and the community.
Bevan Holmes, also from Whangārei, was later inducted as Northland Legend of Sport #32 for his career in rugby. 'Beaver' as he was commonly known, played 31 matches for the All Blacks in 1970, '72 and '73 as well as 90 matches for North Auckland scoring 16 tries and 55 points, helping lift the Ranfurly Shield for North Auckland on two occasions. His 31 AB appearances are a record number for not having played a test match, a feat unlikely to now ever be bettered.
Both Ann and Bevan were school teachers and will now live on in history as significant contributors to the legacy of Northland sport.
Analysis of the 32 Northland Legends of Sport makes for some interesting reading, especially when you look at the sports that the different legends were involved in.
Predictably in this rugby-mad nation, our number one sport tops the list as the main sport with nearly one-third of the 32 Legends – players Peter Jones, Sid Going, Johnny Smith, Joe Morgan, Peter Sloane, Ian Jones and now Bevan Holmes, coach Ted Griffin, referee Pat Murphy, administrator Duncan Ross and player/administrator Richie Guy make up the rugby legends contingent.
Hockey comes in second with four on the list – Trevor Blake, Ross McPherson, Grant McLeod and Sandy Hitchcock (nee Bennett), reflecting this sport's huge stature and tradition in the North.
The comparatively minor sport of table tennis has incredibly had three players inducted - Neti Traill, James Morris and Garry Frew (the latter also being honoured for his sports journalism), which just goes to show that the so-called minor sports can produce great sportspeople (and again table tennis is a sport that has a significant history in Northland).
Amazingly, that is 18 of the 32 (56 per cent) that come from just three sports, which probably goes to show that tradition does play a big part in what sportspeople achieve in.
NZ's biggest summer sport cricket has two legends (Brian Dunning and Bryan Young), as does equestrian (Blythe Tait and Andrew Bennie) and now also bowls (Audrey Russell and Ann Muir). All three sports also have a significant history in Northland and when you then look at the six sports above that have multiple legends, they account for an incredible 24 of the 32 Legends (75 per cent).
There are another seven sports that have one legend each – cycling (Laurie Byers), netball (Lyn Gunson), woodchopping (Innes Davidson), swimming (Michael Davidson), athletics (Bob Thomas), squash (Shelley Kitchen) and basketball, with Pero Cameron being the last inductee (Legend #30) in 2019.
Dr Matt Marshall rounds out the 32 Northland Legends, largely for his sterling work in sports medicine and drugs in sport.
The deeds of our famous Northland sportspeople can be very motivational for our tamariki and rangatahi's involvement in sport and, as such, it is important that Sport Northland continues this Northland Legends of Sport induction into the future.