Celebrated football administrator Warwick Gendall became Friends of Football’s sixth Medal of Excellence recipient on the eve of the All Whites’ World Cup qualifier against Peru in late 2017.
Gendall was unable to attend the dinner at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium as he had been called overseas to contribute to work on international drug-testing in sport.
Friends of Football chair Earle Thomas presented the medal to Warwick’s son David and delivered the following tribute:
“We began the Medal presentations as a way of recognising those whose contributions to our sport had been extraordinary … and there can be no better explanation of what we define as extraordinary than to tell you who has already earned our medal:
- John Adshead – the coach who took us to our first World Cup finals
- Steve Sumner – the man who set the standard for captaincy and leadership
- Brian Turner – five World Cup campaigns over 46 years as an All White player or staff member
- Ivan Vicelich – our most-capped All White
- Bert Ormond – a pioneering coach who helped establish the first national league
“This year’s recipient is worthy of joining this outstanding group.
“From Wellington, he became a member of the New Zealand Football Association in the 1970s. He became Deputy Chairman of the council from 1978 until 1984, and he succeeded Charlie Dempsey as chairman in 1986, serving in the role for six years.
“He became a member of the Oceania Football Federation executive committee and attended 5 FIFA World Congresses between 1982 and 1992, always working hard for football in this region.
“He inspected island nations such as Tahiti and the Cook Islands and his submissions helped them gain entry to FIFA. Our medal recipient was not content solely with administration; he was also prepared to roll up his sleeves and work with our top teams and players.
“He was the Manager of NZ Teams that competed at the Merdeka tournament in 1981; the All Whites tour of England in 1984 and the All Whites Kings Cup competition in Bangkok in 1988.
“He was also instrumental in bringing the 1990 England World Cup team to New Zealand in 1991 for 2 matches for the celebrations of New Zealand football’s centenary.
“More than 30 years after he first took up a leadership role in football, our medal winner was still willing to help – he became the first chairman of trustees for the Football Foundation, whose work will benefit tonight from tonight’s fundraising.
“By now, I’m sure many of you will have recognised who I am describing … and I haven’t even mentioned yet his remarkable career outside of football.
“I’m talking about Warwick Gendall. He became a lawyer in 1966, graduating from Victoria University, and after a year teaching law in Canada, he became a partner at Buddle Finlay in 1968.
“He was a council member of the Wellington District Law Society between 1982-1983 and served as vice president in 1985. Appointed a Queens Council 1986, Warwick was appointed as a High Court judge in the same year.
“Whether he was presiding over football or the law, Warwick earned the respect of those around him and we should all acknowledge that our community has been so much richer because of his efforts and achievements.
“Ladies and gentlemen – please acknowledge the 2017 recipient of the Friends of Football Medal of Excellence … Warwick Gendall.”