Retired head writes Hirsch Shield story

Retired Selborne College headmaster Sam Gunn has taken a trip down memory lane in recording the history of the iconic Hirsch Shield athletics competition in book form.

Tracing the competition back to its origins, the book takes a nostalgic look at the illustrious history of one of the Eastern Cape’s flagship schools’ athletics competitions. “A hundred years is a long time. It has survived numerous changes including wars, educational changes, and I thought it was worthy of being pinned down historically, so I decided to do it because if I didn’t take it up, no one would have,” Gunn said. As the general secretary of the Hirsch Shield Association, Gunn has been involved in the competition since 1972, when he was teaching at Queen’s College. Gunn said the book was divided into four parts and looks at the meeting from its humble beginnings in Port Elizabeth to its growth as possibly one of the country’s oldest athletics competitions. It includes a synopses of the meeting through its early and middle years all the way through to the present.

It also looks at the “Hirsch personalities”, a select group of individuals from organisers, coaches and administrators to star athletes throughout the years, who have breathed life into the iconic meeting. The 200-odd pager includes appendices of all the winners and record holders of every event all the way from 1917 to present. “It’s sort of a self-publishing exercise, with the aid of Harry’s Printers in East London,” Gunn said. He said the costs of production were generously covered by a number of Hirsch Shield schools. The funds raised from the book will go to the Hirsch Shield Association. Gunn has travelled across the province delivering complementary books to various schools and said the reaction had been encouraging. A limited number of books are available at Fogarty’s. Books can also be ordered directly from Gunn at Prices are R170 for soft cover and R500 for hard cover. Prices may differ at Fogarty’s.