When one reaches the seventh decade, one sees a good number who started the race of life around the same time, falling at hurdles in the home straight.
In recent weeks, two good acquaintances of Sideline Sid in earlier days, have passed on.
Both had a real zest for life and enjoyed the kiwi quintessential of sport and having a beer after the match.
Ian Given was the straightest shooter you could ever meet.
He was a larger than life character that didn't allow obstacles to stand in his way. If you debated with Ian you had to be dead-sure of your facts.
He was always well researched, sure of his facts and had common sense in spades.
Ian competed and served as a volunteer lifeguard in an era where R&R (rescue and resuscitation) was king.
Six and four man rescue events were the highlight of surf lifesaving carnivals with surf and belt races attracting big numbers.
The big prize at the New Zealand Surf Lifesaving championships was the Nelson Shield awarded to the winner of the R&R open six man competition.
However, R&R competition has gone the way of standing long and high jumps in athletic competition, to be confined to the annals of history.
Ian Given was a man that relished challenges and he took to golf in later life with the same enthusiasm he had for doing business.
He also took up photography to the extent that his pics were the equal of professional photographers.
While Ian came from a cosmopolitan background, my other mate that passed on a few weeks ago, in Brian "Taka" Manning was rural to the hilt.
I first met Taka Manning when we shifted to the small King Country hamlet of Matiere in the seventies.
Taka was one of the first to welcome me to the Matiere Cosmopolitan Club and he always had a smile on his face.
The Manning's were farmers who owned one of the larger holdings around the sleepy King Country village.
Both Taka and Kathy were very competitive golfers who honed their skills on the interesting nine-hole Matiere course.
There were no manicured greens or fairways, on the Matiere nine holer, but electric fences that kept the sheep off the putting surface.
However, the Matiere golfers were held in high regard by the New Plymouth city slickers and their country cousins, with the Matiere Golf Club winning a number of Taranaki pennants.
Like R&R in surf lifesaving, the Matiere golf course has paid the price of time but will be remembered fondly by all that played the course.
To coin a phrase, Ian Given and Taka Manning were good buggers and will be remembered by all who had the pleasure of their company over the years.
RIP Ian Given and Brian Manning.
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