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Guest Post – Get a Philosophy

By Cordwainer Bull


Socrates. No, not THAT Socrates, the other one.

A great number of people care deeply about football in New Zealand, but are driven by quite diverse philosophies.

That was evident at Celebration of Excellence Dinner in Auckland last night, organised by independent ginger group, Friends of Football, and incorporating the annual New Zealand Football Media Awards.

Because the evening was convened under the “Chatham House Rule” – designed to encourage free and frank in-house discussion – comments expressed from the podium cannot be attributed to speakers.

However that historic Chatham House Rule (named after the headquarters of the Royal Institute of International Affairs rather than a football competition) also clearly stipulates that those present are free to use information received, as long as neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speakers is revealed.

So with that in mind, there is no harm in summarising that the key theme from podium during the course of an entertaining evening was the need for those playing a role within the code to “get a philosophy”.

But if there are to be big shifts in where football is going in New Zealand, there is also a parallel responsibility to share and explain the thinking behind them.

And, on the evidence of the leading ideas propagated at the Celebration of Excellence Dinner, even the thinking behind the thinking.

So in the spirit of “getting a philosophy”, I made an impromptu effort to drill down into the epistemology, logic, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics of football by asking a cross-section of Kiwi football identities present at the evening to go on the record and summarise their personal football philosophies.

The results are collated below without comment:

John Adshead, legendary All Whites coach: “Build around attacking football. My record speaks for itself. Take it to sides, score more goals than them.”

Ivan Vuksich, chairman of Auckland City. “My philosophy has actually changed over the years on how we should play. It is important that we keep the fans happy and a possession style of game is so rewarding if you do it well. It is very important to have outcomes as well, but how you win is important, and possession football is the way of the future.”

Jeremy Ruane, Regional-Community Football Writer of the Year (after 23 years of writing for Auckland community newspapers): “Bill Shankly said it best for me. Everyone working for each other, everyone having a share of the rewards. It’s the way I see football, the way I see life.”

Josh Easby, co-editor of Programme of the Year (Waibop United): “Bob Mills, an unemployed Leyton Orient fan, summed it up best when his team was 2-0 up at half time and he shouted at the players as they headed down the tunnel: ‘Keep your chin up – you can still win from here’. They lost 3-2. After supporting York City for 50 years I have learned you have to take a long view of everything in football.”

Sam Malcolmson, 1982 All White: “You have got to remember the game is for the players. And be true to yourself.”

TV Broadcaster of the Year finalist, Gordon Glen Watson (Glenstrae Media): “Football is all about people, family, culture, heritage. Serve the game.”

Former All Whites and Auckland City coach Allan Jones: “As a coach it is always about development to affect play at the highest possible level of a player’s ability, with the teaching and playing of the game developed along parallel lines to achieve an optimal level of performance at international and domestic level.”

Jason Pine, Football Audio Broadcaster of the Year: “Enjoy the game”.

Enzo Giordani,  football blogger and publisher (In The Back of The Net): “Mine’s a simple Marxist philosophy. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

Roger Wilkinson, Fencibles United director of coaching: “Well, firstly, as a coach you call it a game style, not a philosophy. But you have got to have a game style and know what it is. When you coach a 7-year-old, that is just the early part of coaching a 24-year-old, and how can you set off if you don’t know where you are going to? It’s not just about winning, it’s about style. You must read John Cartwright on the Premier Skills website.”

Cam Mitchell, NZ Football Community Football director: “People. Believe in people and core values.”

Guy Smith, Yellow Fever “In The Zone” broadcaster: “Admit nothing, be bitter, fight everyone.”

Dale Warburton, Yellow Fever: “I’m not sure, I am actually quite a slow thinker.”

Seamus Marten, Hamilton venue manager for the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2015: “Football is a school of life. I credit what I am to football. Everything I have learned is from football.”

Simon Kay, NZ Football Media Awards convener: “I can’t think of anything, sorry.”

Michael Burgess, Football Writer of the Year (Herald on Sunday). “Well, our work team coach, Simon Kay, always stressed the importance of doing the basics well. Get your throw-ins right. Take inspiration from that.”

New Zealand Football Media Association award winners:

Programme of the Year – WaiBOP United edited by Dwayne Barlow and Josh Easby

Publication of the Year – Soccer by the Silverstream: 100 Years of Soccer on the Taieri by Cliff Anderson

Writer of the Year – Michael Burgess (Herald on Sunday)

Regional-Community Writer of the Year – Jeremy Ruane (

Photographer of the Year – Andrew Cornaga (Photosport)

Audio Broadcaster of the Year – Jason Pine (The Radio Network)

Television Broadcaster of the Year – Andrew Gourdie (TV3)

[Cordwainer Bull is a former Waikato football programme columnist. His hobbies include collecting belly button lint to stuff pillows. His favourite player of all time was Brian Chisholm. He is webmaster for the following websites:


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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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