Shearing at the Golden Shears was one of the last things on the mind of farmer Mark Ferguson as he started to the feel the grip of a tough Hawke’s Bay summer a while before Christmas.
But it all changed when he met former World and Golden Shears Open champion and Waipawa shearer Cam Ferguson (no relation), and this afternoon he became another Ferguson to don a winning ribbon at the Golden Shears by winning the Junior final, a father-of-two aged 43 with some of his opposition less than half his age.
Mark Ferguson, who with wife Annie bought a property near Kahuranaki Station about 18 months ago, had always shorn his own sheep, but said he’d never thought of competing until he ventured down the road to help a neighbouring farmer and found himself working in the midst of one of Hawke’s Bay’s great shearers.
“He gave me a couple of days, he said you’re clean enough, so I said, well you’d better show me how to shear a show sheep,” Mark Ferguson said moments before today’s six-shearer final over 5 second-shear sheep.
It was a moment to ease the nerves which ultimately led to a result almost as close as it could get. Finishing almost a minute after first-man-off Brodie Horrell, of Gore, Ferguson had markedly the best quality points to claim a winning margin of just 0.039pts.
Third was Liam Norrie, of Cheviot, shutting out three shearers working in Hawke’s Bay, fourth-placed Steve Hakarai, of Napier, Dannevirke-based Anne-Lise Humstad, of Norway, and Keith Swann, of Wairoa.
Having been given the cue, Ferguson, whose previous sporting endeavours had been motorbike riding with A-grade placing on the North Island circuit, shore three competitions in the lead-up to Masterton’s big annual event and won two.
Pointers to his real chances came when he won at Pahiatua on Sunday, and was top qualifier from the 46-shearer heats in Masterton and also top qualifier from the semi-finals. He also received an FMG quality award for best quality points in the Junior heats.
Despite having earned the right to pre-final favouritism in his first-ever visit to Golden Shears, he said as he waited for the event: “I feel lucky to be here. It’s such an amazing event.”
The bigger excitement seemed to be at home in Hawke’s Bay where his wife was looking after five-year-old Ellie and three-year-old Clara.
“They’re all excited about the ribbons coming home,” he said.
Mark Ferguson - winner
From Doug Laing, media officer, Shearing Sports New Zealand.