Shearing Sports New Zealand official John Hough, who is in his final season of shearing competitions, competes at the Canterbury Shears at the Canterbury A&P Show last year. Photo by Ruth Grundy.
The travelling road show dubbed the ''last stand'' is having
a ball, with many youngsters coming forward to shake the hand
of the master - master shearer John Hough, that is.
The Rakaia shearer and Shearing Sports New Zealand official
has decided to make this shearing sports season his last
Hough, who declines to give his age but is believed to be
about 70, has been joined by six mates, all retired shearers.
They are working their way through competitions up and down
the country, including next month's Golden Shears, in
Masterton, and the New Zealand championships, in Te Kuiti.
Mr Hough, who is Shearing Sports New Zealand South Island
committee chairman, began shearing at 18 and first competed
in open-class shearing 40 years ago. He was accorded Master
Shearer status in 1986.
Courier Country caught up with team manager and the youngest
of the ''last stand'' team, Rocky Bull, in Gore, as the team
begins the countdown to the final leg.
The team was putting up a pretty good performance, winning
through on quality points if not on speed, he said.
''It's been a helluva lot of fun ... we've got a bit more fun
to have yet.
''It's pretty competitive amongst each other ... I can't tell
you who's doing the best,'' Mr Bull said, laughing.
Although they had not been able to compete as a team at every
shears, members had competed at the New Zealand Merino
Shearing and Woolhandling Championships, in Alexandra, the
Canterbury Shears, Pleasant Point Gymkhana, Lumsden, Winton,
Balclutha and Gore.
Next month, they will turn out at the Golden and NZ Shears,
then Mayfield, Methven and Oxford.
The tour culminates at the Mackenzie shears in Fairlie on
Mr Bull said ''Houghy'' had been honoured by all he met on
tour as a ''legend''.
Reportedly, fellow celebrity shearers, the Fagans, have ''a
surprise'' planned for the national gathering at Te Kuiti, he
Team mate and show commentator Norm Harraway said it had been
a matter of pride the team members, all tutors at one time,
had ''got off the bottom rung'' at the competitions.
''It was a lot of fun.''
''Houghy smoked them in the heats'' and has had rounds of
applause at each contest.
''He's put in such a lot to Shearing Sports New Zealand over
the years, he's helped every one of us.''
Many of the young shearers made a point of coming up to him
and shaking his hand, Mr Harraway said.
The other shearers in the team are Shearing Sports New
Zealand chairman Gavin Rowland, Tom Wilson, Robert McLaren
and John Fraser.