By D.J. CAMERON
Test cricketer, teacher. Died aged 95.
I once described Gordon Lindsay Weir as the Father of Eden Park on the basis that he started his club cricket and rugby career at the park in the late 1920s, and some 70 years on was still a weekly watcher at the ground.
Weir, who ended his term as the reputed oldest living test cricketer in the world last week, chided me afterwards - there were many better players who deserved that title.
But few, if any, who brought such dignity, gentlemanliness, or who played such a long part building the heritage of this noble piece of sporting turf.
Weir started test cricket in 1929, with tours to England in 1931 and 1937, and representative rugby for Auckland as a tidy inside back in 1930-32. (Weir claimed one rugby distinction - he reckoned he was the slowest first five-eighth ever to play for Auckland.)
A first-class cricket career from 1927 to 1947 included 107 matches, 5022 runs, 10 centuries and 107 wickets. They were years in which Weir might expect to play three matches for Auckland against other provinces a season, and with only a rare sight of international sides.
Enter Merv Wallace, an Auckland and New Zealand team-mate of Weir and a fine judge of a cricketer.
"He was always 'Dad' to us," says Wallace. "No mystery about it, his hair thinned out very quickly and he looked older than the rest of us.
"How good a cricketer? A fine batsman, lovely strokes, kept the ball on the ground, could score at a quick rate. Very useful medium-pace bowler. Top-class field.
"Best of all, a totally dedicated team man. And every inch the sporting gentleman."
Before the 1937 side left by ship for England a co-worker at Wisemans Sports store told Wallace that he had to make sure that Weir and his team-mates were introduced to the pretty girls on the Arawa.
Wallace modestly disclaims credit for the fact that later two girlfriends on the ship became Mrs Betty Weir and Mrs Lilla Hadlee, wife of Walter.
After his playing days were over Dad spent many years as sole selector-coach of the Auckland side which competed in the national under-20 Brabin tournament. As I went to cover one of Dad's trial matches at Cornwall Park I met him travelling at an unusually brisk speed to the carpark.
"An emergency, Mr Weir?" I inquired.
"Seb Kohlhasse [a noted big-hitter] is going to have a bat, so I thought I had better shift my car a 100 yards or so."
Dad taught for at least 40 years at Mt Albert Grammar School, scene of his funeral service yesterday, and introduced thousands of boys to the mysteries of the English and French languages, and the magic of sport.
The other day one of his older pupils rolled back his memories of Dad Weir.
"I used to think," he said, "that if they ever did a remake of that classic film Goodbye, Mr Chips about the quiet heroism of a modestly painstaking teacher, then Dad would have been the ideal man to replace Robert Donat in the starring role."
By D.J. CAMERON