Vale: Bert Ormond – a pioneer who influenced a generation of young players

posted in: News, Obituary

One of New Zealand’s most successful club coaches, Bert Ormond, led Blockhouse Bay to a league-cup double in the inaugural season of the national league in 1970, and he captained New Zealand on their world tour of 1964.

He was regarded as one of New Zealand football’s pioneering club coaches in the 1970s and influenced a generation of young footballers.

Ormond died in Auckland in 2017, aged 86.

In 2016, he was honoured by the football community, being awarded a Friends of Football Medal of Excellence, in front of a 300-strong audience at the sport’s 125th-anniversary dinner.

Click here to learn more about Ormond’s Medal of Excellence award >>>>

Ormond emigrated to New Zealand after a successful playing career in Scotland where he played for Falkirk, Airdrie and Dumbarton scoring 34 goals in 83 appearances, playing in those days as an inside forward.

He arrived in Gisborne in 1961 and immediately joined Eastern Union, a football powerhouse in those days, and then Gisborne Thistle where he left a rich footballing legacy.

In 1964 the Ormond family moved to West Auckland which is where he began a successful playing and coaching career with Blockhouse Bay, his only other club in New Zealand.

Ormond first represented his adopted country in 1961, shortly after arriving from Scotland, scoring against New Caledonia, and in 1964 he had the honour of captaining New Zealand on its 15-match World Tour. In total, he played in 21 internationals for New Zealand, 17 of them while he was a member of Blockhouse Bay.

In 1969, Blockhouse Bay, under his coaching, qualified for the inaugural Rothmans Soccer League, a controversial decision at the time by NZFA but one that turned out to be pure genius.

On qualifying, Ormond immediately started to assemble a squad for the start of the season.

Bay went on to win the first National League title and then climaxed the season with victory in the Chatham Cup Final in a thrilling replay at Newmarket Park against Western Suburbs of Wellington.

Ormond insisted on a professional approach to every game: players had to wear a dress uniform to the game, the team always had lunch together prior to the game, and there was always a huge after-match function for players and supporters regardless of the result.

It was a formula that other clubs copied.

After the tremendous success of that first season, Blockhouse Bay remained a power in the National League. Ormond was coach for seven seasons — the club’s finishing position, in order, starting from 1970, was 1st, 4th, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 3rd, 5th. He was in charge for 122 National league games of which 63 were won, 27 drawn and just 32 lost (52% winning record).

In 1975, he took Bay to the Chatham Cup final again, losing this time to Christchurch United in extra time.

Ormond was more than a great footballer and coach he was also a natural as a weekly columnist who didn’t mind speaking his mind. He was one of the sport’s first high profile “personalities”, writing a weekly column in the Sunday News (then the highest circulation weekend paper) in the 1970s, and helping popularise the sport to a wider audience.

Much of the success of football in the 1970s was down to Ormond. He knew the value of publicity for the game he loved and this combined with his passion, his coaching ability, his nous for the game all helped football to regain its place on the New Zealand sporting calendar.

He was also a fine storyteller, a superb motivator of men, a keen judge of character, someone who genuinely cared about his players. He had the knack of being able to bond a disparate group of “no name” players into a tightly knit and highly successful football team.

Ormond was known as a real character and a connoisseur of fine Scotch whisky, in truth any Scotch whisky, of which he would partake of a wee nip just prior to his team talk at the Great Northern Hotel in Queen St before every game.

Ormond and his wife Esther, who died early this year, was to raise two boys who both went on to play for New Zealand and have successful sporting and business careers; Iain and Duncan who were stalwarts of the Bay teams of the 1970s.

His grandaughter Vicki played for the Football Ferns, ensuring the Ormond name has represented New Zealand over several decades.

Bert Ormond (1931-2017)