A football enthusiast who has worked tirelessly to preserve the sport’s history in New Zealand has been recognized for his work by receiving Friends of Football’s Medal of Excellence.
Auckland-based football historian Barry Smith was awarded the medal at an NZ Football dinner in 2018.
Smith and his wife, Colleen, who is a keen follower of football in her own right, were taken by surprise when Friends of Football chair Earle Thomas revealed who would receive the latest medal.
Thomas addressed the audience:
“Our recipient of this year’s Medal of Excellence is someone who achieved more as a player and coach in softball than he did football … but it’s football that has benefitted from more than 60 years of his commitment to the sport.
“Barry Smith was 15 and still at school when he first decided he wanted to compile a football annual – a book that would bring together all the facts and figures needed to follow the sport in New Zealand.
“Barry used his pocket money to pay a public typist to compile his first collection of football records and he distributed it to football associations throughout the country.
“That was in 1954. Since then, no one has done more than Barry to ensure the continuity of our sports statistics.
“Want to know who has made the most substitute appearances for a national team? Or who has appeared in the most number of Chatham Cup games?
“If Barry doesn’t know, chances are that no one else does either.
“Over the years, and supported by wife Colleen, Barry has lived variously in Wellington, Southland and now Auckland.
“One of his main achievements was editing the New Zealand Soccer Annual for 15 years. He has contributed to other books on the sport, usually providing statistics and often providing insights.
“He has been the long-time honorary historian for New Zealand Football.
“He’s a Life Member of the NZ Football Media Association.
“He’s also a past recipient of Auckland Football Federation’s Long Service Award for having maintained Northern League records since 1968.
“Tonight we get the chance to honour Barry while in the company of all those bodies – New Zealand Football, the Football Media Association and the federations who have benefitted from his work.”