In his address to those in attendance, Sir Eion announced he would be donating $500,000 to the Football Foundation coffers, an amazing gesture that was met by rapturous applause.
Not to be outdone, Football Foundation chairman Mark Stewart – who is set to step down from his position in May – then took the stage and declared he would be matching Sir Eion’s contribution, bringing the total donated to the foundation to a remarkable $1 million.
“I’d known about the donations for a while and it was hard not going out and telling everyone but this provided the perfect platform,” Barkley said. “I am blown away by the generosity of both Sir Eion and Mark, their donations will make a huge impact as the Football Foundation continues to support the growth of our game.”
Another highlight of the evening was the presenting of the New Zealand Football Media Association (NZFMA) awards, which included the prestigious Player of the Year – given to the player who has had the biggest impact at home or aboard during the 2015-16 season. For the second year running, West Ham United defender and All Whites captain Winston Reid claimed the honour, holding off the challenges of international team mate Chris Wood, as well as Football Ferns captain Abby Erceg and prolific striker Amber Hearn.
As Reid is missing this month’s FIFA World Cup qualifiers due to injury, All Whites coach Anthony Hudson accepted the award on his behalf and was joined at the function by squad members Wood, Michael Boxall, Glen Moss, Andrew Durante and Michael McGlinchey. Hudson, Wood and Boxall took the stage for a question-and-answer session with MC Andrew Dewhurst, as did several members of the legendary 1982 team – namely coach John Adshead, Steve Sumner and Brian Turner.
Joining Reid as a winner on the night were a host of journalists, broadcasters and photographers, whose efforts were recognised with the media-based NZFMA awards. The winners of each category were as follows: Programme of the Year – Waitemata, edited by Mark Reid; Writer of the Year – Michael Burgess (NZ Herald, Herald on Sunday); Community-Internet Writer of the Year – Enzo Giordani (in-the-back-of-the.net); Photographer of the Year – Shane Wenzlick (Phototek); Publication of the Year – The National League Debates, by Bruce Holloway; Audio Broadcaster of the Year – Jason Pine (NZME); Television Broadcaster of the Year – Jason Pine (Sky TV); Website of the Year – www.thejourneyfan.blogspot.co.nz, Dave Webster.
Joining New Zealand Football, the NZF Football Foundation and NZFMA in celebrating the governing body’s 125th Anniversary were independent supporters group Friends of Football, who took the opportunity to present a Medal of Excellence to Bert Ormond, a Scotland-born former All White who went on to enjoy a successful coaching career and left a huge legacy at the Gisborne Thistle and Blockhouse Bay clubs.
Ormond also produced a pair of fellow All Whites himself in sons Iain and Duncan, while granddaughter Vicki also played for the Football Ferns. The whole clan was in attendance and Iain spoke on behalf of his father, who was deeply touched by the recognition.
“It’s been wonderful to see friends and colleagues come up and reacquaint themselves with our family,” Iain said.
“Myself and Bert have talked tonight to people we haven’t seen for 45 years and it’s like it was yesterday. That feeling is what we play sport for and Bert epitomised that – he had such a passion and commitment for everything he did. This means so much to our family.”
Another highlight was a video montage of some of the most memorable moments in New Zealand’s footballing history, including stirring footage and interviews with many of the key figures in the growth of the game in this country.
The night wrapped up on a fitting note with New Zealand Football President Deryck Shaw and Sumner, captain of the 1982 All Whites, cutting a 125th birthday cake.
“It was a special occasion for football and great to see so many famous faces in the room to celebrate past glories and look ahead to the next exciting chapters in our wonderful sport,” Shaw said.