Black Caps or Black Sox, fervent follower is there
PUTTING the Black Caps’ series loss to India behind him, globetrotting Kiwi sports fanatic Sonny Shaw is off to Canada in hopes of cheering on the New Zealand men’s softball team to World Cup success.
The accountant from Mairangi Bay made his presence felt in the stand at the Basin Reserve in Wellington earlier this month. He will again have his trademark flag flying to support the defending world champion Black Sox in Saskatoon in June.
Mr Shaw has been a permanent – and recognisable – fixture at sporting venues both here and abroad since he began following New Zealand teams nearly 20 years ago.
Since his first major tour, the 1989 All Black tour of Canada, Wales and Ireland, he has carried with him a kiwi soft toy called “Lucky Chum”, equipped with a mini cricket bat and rugby ball. The flag made its debut in 1992 and immediately proved controversial.
“When the Barmy Army came here, they used to sing songs to me like ‘Union Jack on the Kiwi flag, doo-dah’,” he says.
So his mother sewed a silver fern over one side of the Union Jack and Mr Shaw proudly flew the modified NZ banner for 10 years – until a member of the public objected that he was defacing the New Zealand flag. A complaint went to the Police Commissioner.
The police didn’t charge him but said he wasn’t allowed to use the flag.
Another complaint was lodged to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, which suggested Mr Shaw design his own flag.
“Hence this is the new flag – the silver fern, our sporting symbol, with the stars of the Southern Cross, which I think is a far better flag than my old flag. So these guys did me a good deed.”
Mr Shaw has been on 56 overseas sporting tours, mostly as a cricket follower: he has attended 114 test matches and 284 one-day internationals since 1969.
He has also attended events like the 2008 Rugby League World Cup, the Beijing Olympics, the 2007 America’s Cup and this year’s Sevens World Cup in Dubai.
He has visited 69 countries, including every cricketing nation and rugby country bar Italy, which he’s hoping to visit during the All Blacks end-of-season tour in November.
PICTURE: Ever-loyal Sonny Shaw with his flag flying high at the recent New Zealand-India test match at the Basin Reserve.