New Zealand Football Media Association 2017 award winners announced . . .

Programme of the Year

 Winner: Shared by Waitemata edited by Mark Reid and Papatoetoe AFC Ladies edited by Andrew Kirk

 Highly Commended: Auckland City FC and Eastern Suburbs

Waitemata complete their hat trick in this category while Papatoetoe make it third time lucky after narrowly missing out as beaten finalists in 2014 and 2015. First presented in 1980, Programme of the Year was won by Gisborne City for the first eight years (1980-87) and then Napier City Rovers for the next 11 (1988-1999, shared with Hutt Valley United in 1992). Napier also won in 2011 for the 12th time, extending the club’s record in this category.

Judge: Jeremy Ruane (Former Regional-Community Writer, Programme and Publication of the Year winner)

 Judge’s comments: “Thank you to Auckland City FC, Auckland Football Federation, Cambridge, Eastern Suburbs, Ellerslie, Manurewa, Napier City Rovers, Papatoetoe, Stop Out and Waitemata for their submissions, which were generally of better than average quality, with most making great use of colour, content, white space and action photography to assist in communicating their message to the masses.”

“From the ten contenders emerged three finalists and a mention in despatches for Eastern Suburbs, who are to be commended on bringing their club’s history to life in their programmes – well done!”

“For a club which plays during the summer months, Auckland City produce a solid programme, rich in colour, information, eye-catching photos and headings and topicality – mention must be made of their community-focused activities in this regard.”

“The Papatoetoe Ladies programme is without question the benchmark for the women’s game, with solid features on the opposition, their own stars, the latest news and action shots from around the club and the game, Pam’s Pantry, Five Faves and a unique “Guess The Baby” feature, a genuine highlight of a well-presented 36-page read.”

“Waitemata have won this award in each of the past two years, and their hat-trick-hunting entry is, as you would expect, hewn from the same rock. The attention to detail is meticulous, while other highlights include a life member’s Dream Team, a historic look at Today In Football, and solid multi-page profiles on both the opposition and one of the club’s stars, all inside 36 full colour pages.”

“As to the outcome, it’s again a very close call between last year’s winners and runners-up, Waitemata and Papatoetoe respectively. So close, in fact, that this year, the award is shared – well done both!”

Recent Winners

2002 Island Bay United

2003 Lower Hutt City

2004 Lower Hutt City

2005-09 No award

2010 Cambridge FC

2011 Napier City Rovers

2012 Petone

2013 WaiBOP United

2014 Waitemata

2015 Waitemata

2016 Waitemata and Papatoetoe (award shared)

Publication of the Year

Winner: Fully Committed, by Ben Sigmund and Jason Pine

 Highly Commended: The Lilywhites – History of Eastern Suburbs AFC 1934-2015, by Sam Jeffery and Ernest Wong

Ben Sigmund and Jason Pine become the eleventh different winners of this award over the space of its 16 year history (including a three year hiatus). Last year’s winner was Bruce Holloway for his ‘National League Debates’ and he remains the only person who has won this category more than once.

Judge: Simon Kay (former Writer of the Year)

 Judge’s comments: “The Lilywhites is an impressive history of Eastern Suburbs, chronicling the rise and fall and rise of one of New Zealand’s most storied football clubs. The book is packed with yarns, anecdotes and interviews with pivotal figures from throughout the club’s past, dating all the way back to pre-war times.”

“Particular attention is paid to the glory days of the 1950s and 1960s, through to the pinnacle of the National League triumph in 1971, plus the triumphs of more recent years, culminating in the Northern League-Chatham Cup double of 2015.”

“But the book is also unflinching in recounting the decline of the 1970s and 1980s, and the struggles of the 1990s as Eastern Suburbs languished in the fourth tier, or the decades-long fight to find a home. There’s also a lengthy section detailing all the club’s senior results and individual player statistics compiled by Barry Smith.”

“There are some minor quibbles – a handful of typos, photos and captions on different pages, and photos not faded sufficiently for the text layered on top to be easily read – but The Lilywhites is an otherwise outstanding publication that sets a benchmark for club histories. In many other years, The Lilywhites would have been a deserving winner of this category but the honour instead goes to a rare addition to New Zealand’s slim library of commercial football books.”

“Fully Committed is an apt title for Ben Sigmund’s autobiography. The on-field attributes that made him such a favourite with Phoenix fans are on display in this book, as the former defender gives an uncompromising appraisal of his rise and fall and rise as a footballer.”

“His unorthodox path to the professional ranks alone makes for a good story – would there be any other footballers in the world who didn’t turn professional until the age of 27, having earlier played a season of club rugby? And all this after an international call-up as a teenager, a single game for the ill-fated Kingz, and seven years between his first and second caps.”

“But delivered with Sigmund’s heart-on-the-sleeve honesty makes this an even more compelling read. He doesn’t shy away from delivering criticism where he sees fit, with a steady stream of vitriol reserved for Ricki Herbert, his former coach for club and country. There’s an insightful chapter from Sigmund’s wife Deanna and the poignant story of their son born 16 weeks premature.”

“Publishers are hardly falling over themselves to showcase New Zealand football stories, but Sigmund has the character and popularity to pull this off, and more than 2000 copies sold is an indication of how well he and Jason Pine succeeded.”

Recent Winners

2004 Spikes History, Rangers FC

2005 Soccer Talk magazine, edited by Glen Price

2006-08 No award

2009 Ricki Herbert – A New Fire, by Russell Gray

2010 Ryan Nelsen’s Road to the World Cup with Tony Smith

2011 The Waikato Chronicles, by Bruce Holloway

2012 Strength In Unity, edited by Jeremy Ruane

2013 Soccer by the Silverstream, by W. Cliff Anderson

2014 Friends of Football Auckland City Club World Cup tribute, edited by Josh Easby

2015 The National League Debates, by Bruce Holloway

2016 Fully Committed, by Ben Sigmund and Jason Pine

Writer of the Year

Winner: Michael Burgess (Herald on Sunday, NZ Herald)

 Runner up: Dave Webster (The Journeyfan)

 Highly Commended: John Palethorpe (In the back of the net)

First awarded by the NZFMA in 1980, Michael Burgess wins this category for the fifth year in a row – equalling Michael Brown’s record set when he won it for the fifth time in 2010.

Judge: Terry Maddaford (veteran NZHerald football writer)

Judge’s comments:

“Winner: Michael Burgess submitted a well-balanced portfolio highlighting the roles played by New Zealand players in their European clubs. Let’s hope they can put it altogether here tomorrow. The story on Steve Sumner’s much-publicised battle with cancer was especially timely and paid tribute to one of the greats of New Zealand football. Also found his look inside the murky waters of FIFA elections interesting. Obviously with a story or stories to tell, Michael Burgess was given the space to make full use of it.”

“Runner up: Dave Webster’s was another informative portfolio covering a wide range of topics. Especially enjoyed “Island Time” – football and more Waiheke style and “Play-off Pandemonium” – a wrap of a trip to the outer reaches and a report on a game most fans would not have bothered with.”

“Highly commended: John Palethorpe covered a wide range of subjects with the rise and rise of Manukau City under coach Kevin Fallon giving an insight on how success can be achieved by dedication and determination. Also a good wrap on Auckland City’s outstanding efforts at FIFA’s Club World Cup and the for and against of “the long ball” All Whites style.”

Recent Winners

2006 Michael Brown

2007 Michael Brown

2008 No award

2009 Michael Brown

2010 Michael Brown

2011 Tony Smith

2012 Michael Burgess

2013 Michael Burgess

2014 Michael Burgess

2015 Michael Burgess

2016 Michael Burgess

Community-Internet Writer of the Year

Winner: Bruce Holloway (In the back of the net)

Runner up: Phillip Rollo (Nelson Mail)

Highly Commended: Tracey Hodge (In the back of the net)

The NZFMA introduced this category in 2011 and the winner is picked from Writer of the Year entries who do not work for national or major metropolitan publications and/or websites. This is Bruce Holloway’s first triumph in this category, having previously triumphed in Writer of the Year (three times), Publication of the Year (three times) as well as taking out the “Straight Shooter” (Vic Deverill Memorial Cup) in 2000.

Judge: Terry Maddaford

 Judge’s comments:

“Winner: Bruce Holloway – Quirky at times especially in his “Silly Language of Football” – a classic list all football diehards would relate to. “Hard to Beet” another irreverent look at the game in telling the story of New Zealand Football’s 125th celebrations. Also “Cooks’ Recipe” – an obituary with a difference telling of the contribution made to football in the Bay by the late Dave Cook. Again, a well-rounded contribution from a writer who obviously knows his stuff and how to tell it.”

“Runner-up: Phillip Rollo is enthusiastic and knowledgeable which certainly shows out in a wide-ranging portfolio which included the story of a globetrotting Argentine who quickly became a fan favourite, the heartache of a player missing her World Cup dream through injury, the reasons behind Nelson Suburbs’ decision to shun the Chatham Cup and the reasons why a player could play only half her team’s games.”

“Highly commended: Tracey Hodge submitted a good cross-section of life as a football fan. Her “A Day in the Mud” — a timely reminder of what volunteers do to make the game so great and what they get from it. “Language Barrier” – brought up that age-old problem of foul and abusive language at football matches at all levels. Plenty will say “hear, hear.” Her call to arms for Phoenix fans another poignant plea.”

Previous Winners

2011 Anendra Singh (Hawke’s Bay Today)

2012 Phillip Rollo (Waimea Weekly)

2013 Jeremy Ruane (www.ultimatenzsoccer.com)

2014 Phillip Rollo (Nelson Mail)

2015 Enzo Giordani (in the back of the net)

2016 Bruce Holloway (in the back of the net)

Photographer of the Year

 Winner: Shane Wenzlick (Phototek)

Highly Commended: Andrew Cornaga (Photosport), Cameron McIntosh (Photomac), Michael Welsh (Dr yomcat shoots)

Best Single Image: Martin de Ruyter (Nelson Mail)

First awarded in 1981, this is the sixth time Shane Wenzlick has been named Photographer of the Year, following his wins in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011 and last year. His latest triumph is another record equalling feat, drawing him level with Andrew Cornaga’s six victories in 1991, 1997, 2006, 2010, 2012 and 2013.

Judge: Glenn Jeffrey (former NZ Herald photographer)

Judge’s comments: “Shane’s winning entry displays a high standard of knowledge and commitment to the game of football, as well as technical expertise.”

“His capturing of peak action is fantastic, and I particularly enjoyed the image of the children playing football – it displays the ubiquitous nature of the beautiful game.”

“Martin’s winning picture is a standout…a decisive moment of aerial ballet by the striker… perfectly captured.”

“It was difficult to pick between the finalists… all displayed a technical and aesthetic expertise of the highest order.”

“Congratulations to all who entered – the standard of photography was very high.”

Recent Winners

2006 Andrew Cornaga

2007 Shane Wenzlick

2008 No award

2009 Hannah Johnston

2010 Andrew Cornaga

2011 Shane Wenzlick

2012 Andrew Cornaga

2013 Andrew Cornaga

2014 Hagen Hopkins

2015 Shane Wenzlick

2016 Shane Wenzlick

Audio Broadcaster of the Year

Winner: Phoenix City (Patrick Barnes, Cameron McIntosh, Andrew French, Dave Richardson)

Highly Commended: Riccardo Ball (TAB Trackside), Jason Pine (NZME)

The king is dead, long live the kings! Jason Pine’s stranglehold in this category, which he has won the previous nine consecutive times – a record across all categories – is finally broken. Phoenix City takes this out in only their second year recording their podcast.

Judge: Andrew Alderson (Herald on Sunday sports journalist)

Judge’s comments: “Each of these finalists demonstrated enough merit to triumph, but this is no government coalition; there can only be one winner.”

“Jason Pine’s customary breadth of coverage at elite level was on display, covering the Phoenix and All Whites. His footballing instincts and passion are unsurpassed in a live commentary situation. I also enjoyed his insightful opinion piece on a schools tournament in Porirua.”

“Riccardo Ball’s depth of knowledge was obvious, and such authority resonated across the airwaves. His interview focusing on the transient lifestyle of Kris Bright was the highlight, drilling into the mentality behind surviving in the lower leagues of professional football.”

“However, the winners are Patrick Barnes, Cameron McIntosh, Andrew French and Dave Richardson of the Phoenix City podcast. How anyone can sit around each week and talk football for an hour in such forensic detail is beyond me, but they made it compelling, even with the conversation pinballing between multiple voices. They demonstrated camaraderie, but weren’t afraid to engage in robust debates. An example was their candour with guest Andrew Durante who they treated with respect but not sycophancy.”

“New Zealand football, and sport in general, is better served with their presence.”

Recent winners

2006 Andrew Dewhurst

2007 Jason Pine

2008 No award

2009 Jason Pine

2010 Jason Pine

2011 Jason Pine

2012 Jason Pine

2013 Jason Pine

2014 Jason Pine

2015 Jason Pine

2016 Phoenix City (Patrick Barnes, Cameron McIntosh, Andrew French and Dave Richardson)

Television Broadcaster of the Year

Winner: Gordon Glen Watson

Runner up: Jason Pine

Highly Commended: Narelle Sindos and Patrick Barnes

Gordon Glen Watson wins this award back off last year’s winner Jason Pine. This is the fourth time in five years Gordon has picked up this accolade and he’s now hot on the heels of Andrew Gourdie, who has won it a record five times.

Judge: Bruce Holloway (Former Writer and Publication of the Year winner)

Judge’s comments: “Good football commentators get the big calls correct, and find the right words for the memorable moments.”

“That’s what Gordon Glen Watson consistently did with his portfolio of broadcasts from the 2016 OFC Nations Cup, and he can rightly be proud of his cup final penalty shootout call.”

“But good commentators also get the little things right, and here Watson excelled.”

“From a New Zealand fan perspective, it has to be said a lot of the long-ball football produced at this tournament was pretty hard to watch.”

““You can see what the plan is,” Watson drily observed, two minutes into the cup final against Papua New Guinea.”

“And that was all we needed.”

“At its very best, football commentary does not intrude too much upon viewer perspective, but simply embroiders and embellishes what appears on the screen. It tells us what we cannot see for ourselves, and what we might expect to see next.”

“In the same way that you often don’t notice a ref when he has had a very good game, you sometimes don’t appreciate how expertly a commentator has done his job until you take a second look.”

“Only those who have worked the broadcasting beat in places such as Port Moresby will fully appreciate the challenges that arise.”

“But Watson arguably had a better tournament than any Kiwi, though he should buy a drink for his comments man Fred de Jong.”

“If there was such a thing as runner-up it would be Jason Pine, who has a real knack for conveying match excitement, and must have the best crib sheets in the business.”

“You get the impression if Pine wasn’t commentating, he’d be cheering from the sideline. His commentary of the Wellington Phoenix-Western Sydney Wanderers match was particularly effervescent and infectious.”

“The third finalist, Sky TV presenter Narelle Sindos, presented a portfolio of pre and post-match interviews and football show hosting.”

“While this was hard to judge against first class football commentary, it was engaging in its own right, and did the code a great service, in very effectively “humanising” and revealing the personality and character of a number of our domestic players.”

“Elsewhere, while not a finalist, acknowledgement also needs to be made of the commendable efforts of Yellow Fever’s Patrick Barnes.”

“Barnes hinted at the great potential of fan-based productions in the social media era with his quirky homespun “20 questions” You Tube segments. In these quick-fire interviews Barnes chatted with Wellington Phoenix players about life away from football. He deserves encouragement to further fine-tune this concept.”

Recent Winners

2006 Andrew Gourdie

2007 Andrew Gourdie

2008 No award

2009 Andrew Gourdie

2010 Andrew Gourdie

2011 Gordon Glen Watson

2012 Gordon Glen Watson

2013 Andrew Gourdie

2014 Gordon Glen Watson

2015 Jason Pine

2016 Gordon Glen Watson

Website of the Year

Winner: The Journeyfan (Dave Webster)

Runner up: Yellow Fever

Highly Commended: Auckland City (Gordon Glen Watson) and Cambridge (Josh Easby)

This category was reintroduced by the NZFMA last year after a long hiatus. Previous winners between 2001 and 2005 were Team Wellington, Mainland Soccer, Ultimate NZ Soccer, Wellington Olympic and Central United. The Journeyfan’s Dave Webster becomes the first person to win it twice – setting a new benchmark for new media.

Judge: Michael Burgess (NZ Herald football writer and perennial Writer of the Year)

Judge’s comments: “From a wide range (and pleasing number) of entries they were narrowed down to four finalists.”

“Cambridge FC has plenty of pertinent news, in a well-organised, user friendly format. They also have an archive of match reports across many grades, which make for interesting, and sometimes quite off the wall reading.”

“Auckland City’s website is outstanding, and probably compares well with any other club in Australasia, even among some A-League teams. Their news section is comprehensive – including detailed analysis of opposition teams – as well as plenty of features and colour. Their range of slickly produced videos also caught the eye, especially in this day and age.”

“Yellow Fever has long been the benchmark as a vehicle for the football community in the country and continues to be a wonderful example of its type.”

“The Forums section is a treasure trove of information, opinions, debate and passion (in no particular order), and their aggregated news service picks up content from newspapers, websites and blogs across the country. The chants section is hilarious, and impressively up to date, with most of the newest Phoenix recruits already having their own tribute song.”

“But the Journey Fan website again tops them all, with its mix of unique, well-crafted content, clever ideas, photography and semi-obsessive fandom. In its own way, it’s one of the closest things New Zealand has to that iconic British football fan bible `When Saturday Comes”.

“Dave Webster has managed to visit every club in the greater Wellington region and even travelled to Palmerston North for a club game. One match report, of an encounter between Capital football and WaiBop United was even written in the form of a recipe, which was a clever and entertaining device, as were the fan based previews of the current ISPS Handa Premiership season.”

“Some of the historical posts are fascinating – including one on the 1981 National League season, which was quite poignant when you consider the fate of most of those teams.”

“The range and breadth of content edges it ahead of Yellow Fever, and a deserving winner of the 2016 NZFMA Football website of the year.”

Recent Winners

2015 The Journeyfan (Dave Webster)

2016 The Journeyfan (Dave Webster)

The New Zealand Football Media Association started life as the New Zealand Soccer Writers’ Association and was set up primarily to help sports journalists cover the Rothmans League, founded in 1970 and notable as the country’s first national league in any sport. The association’s first media awards were made in 1980, with a Writer of the Year and Programme of the Year recognised. Further categories were added in photography in 1981 and broadcasting in 1986. The awards have since evolved to incorporate publications, a regional-community-website writer category, and website of the year.

The NZFMA began collaborating with Friends of Football three years ago. Its awards were presented at the FoF Celebration of Excellence dinner at Auckland Grammar in 2014 and 2015, and Friends of Football were also involved in both last year’s and this year’s gala dinners organised by New Zealand Football.