21.2.1971 - 15.10.1997
John lived life to the full, He was never a big beer man, rather he had a preference for the Bundy or Wild Turkey. John at stages throughout life was a vegetarian, not that you would know it at around 6”3 and 95kg. He was a talented junior swimmer, footballer and track athlete. He loved his music and would find rhythm on any dance floor where he was much of a ladies man, and would aim to ‘bend’ the night away. He was a proud and committed member of the Army Reserve.
In cricketing terms, John was a bowler with a menacing bouncer. On his day he was as quick as anyone and if not more so with his bounce extracted from such a height. It is fair to say that the radar was not always on song, but this only ever seemed to delight the fast tearaway more so, as it became even more unpredictable to the opposing batsman. As a batsman he was as in life …. Only ever at the crease in cavalier mode, and only there for a good time, not a long time.
Some would be readily excused for thinking that his revered nickname as Shaka Zulu or just ‘Shaka’ to most, came about as an ability to throw a javelin or ‘spear chucker’ for many a distance. In part they were right, but it was his no fear attitude, bordering on kamikaze to many things in life, that the time honoured SHAKA came to be. All of that and a somewhat physical likeness to the fierce warrior Shaka the feared Zulu tribes of Africa.
Amazing as to know how the nickname come about – they are born; they don’t just happen, and it is remarkable… as to how fitting John’s was.
John suffered from a debilitating inoperable tumour on the brain. He was first diagnosed in his early 20’s. John endured through all treatment possible which gave him some extra time but his health deteriorated and, over the last two years went from a very fit man to a walking stick, to totally wheelchair bound to requiring 24 hr assistance as his body systems failed him.
Like the legend of man of 1780’s, from whence his nickname came, Shaka fought and fought and would talk of being better right up until his last days.
The award coincided with the creation of the then Sidmouth Cricket Club, Clubman of the Year award. It was created to honour the life of John. The term Clubman, as termed by the Macquarie dictionary stands for “A member, especially an active member of a fashionable club”. To all, that was John Shaka Harding, and is the memory that lives on. ‘An active member in life and a fashionable life it was’.
The recipients are acknowledged for outstanding service to the club. It IS the most prestigious award the club has. Without the recipients of this award, there would be no Club. Some have made a massive impact of the life of the club over one or two years, most have been part of a culture that has evolved over many years. There are many others who would be so worthy every year.
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