By Cordwainer Bull
Fantastic news this week about NZ Football renaming the National Women’s Knockout Cup to the admittedly more circumlocutory New Zealand Football Foundation Kate Sheppard Cup
In case you missed it, on International Women’s Day, New Zealand Football announced the Women’s Knockout Cup has been renamed after Kate Sheppard Cup from this year onwards.
While it’s true that Kate, as one of foremost our democratic pioneers would have hated such an initiative, given she was such an ardent campaigner for people being empowered to have their own voice and vote for such changes rather than having executive decrees foisted on us from above – and probably would have protested vigorously at the glaring disenfranchisement evident in such a change – it is nevertheless a progressive move.
The women’s national club-based knockout competition is an important part of New Zealand Football’s landscape and it’s just a wonder it took so long for our leaders to make the natural link with “Shep” as they used to lovingly call her around our football grounds.
While Kate is perhaps best known as New Zealand’s most famous suffragette, and was not averse to chaining herself to the odd goalpost, few people appreciate her many and varied roles within football, which too often fell completely beneath the radar.
Kate was a talented player for the now-defunct Temperance United club in Christchurch and had a very cultured left peg, as perhaps the most dynamic left winger of her era. Tragically she hung up her boots early (in protest and not being able to vote for the club committee) but later proved to be a formidable administrator, both at club and provincial level.
Shep was renowned for her rousing and eloquent aftermatch speeches, while she also helped out in the kitchen. Though increasingly distracted by her work with the National Council of Women, she still found time for her first love, and briefly transferred and made a comeback for Suffragette City before returning to Temperance to edit the match programme (The Prohibitionist).
Shep hated the all-pervading patriarchy within the code, and thought it was a terrible indictment on the ineptitude of our national male leaders that it had required the initiative of a bunch of visiting British sailors to get the Chatham Cup up and running.
But Shep sucked it up, and in 1926 was proud to serve as assistant referee (yellow flag) in the Chatham Cup final as Sunnyside (Christchurch) beat North Shore 4-2.
“The name Kate Sheppard is recognised around New Zealand and it is great to have her name associated with this competition,” said New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin when the announcement was made.
And New Zealand Football Foundation Chairwoman Jodi Tong said aligning with the Kate Sheppard Cup was a no-brainer for the Foundation.
Well, with “no brains” being the natural domain of blogsters, I am now suggesting that we take a lead from this invigorating initiative and go all-in on jazzing up our other football trophies with new name links.
Here are a few ideas (don’t pay me, they’re free).
Most urgently, we need to revisit the Maia Jackman Trophy, awarded to the “Player of the Day” in the women’s knockout final.
Don’t get me wrong, Maia was a decent player. But she was nowhere near as good in the air as Jean Batten. Unlike Batten, Maia never made a single solo flight from England to New Zealand. Batten was New Zealand’s greatest aviator, celebrated around the world for her heroic solo flights, and it would be another no-brainer to rename the player of the final trophy after her.
I’d also like to see…
Willie Apiata National League Player of the Year: Willie won the Victoria Cross for carrying a seriously wounded colleague to safety through a barrage of enemy fire in Afghanistan. Let’s face it, anyone who wins player of the year has probably had to do a very similar thing and carry more than his fair share of crap team mates during the season.
Fred Dagg National League Trophy: Simply put, “we don’t know how lucky we are” to still have a national league, given how few people still watch it. Sure, some disaffected elements may point out Dagg is a fictional character, but then many aspects of the national league are equally as hard to believe today. Besides, Dagg was one of New Zealand’s most iconic and loved characters and our greatest political comedian. He’d be a great fit for a competition which can be very political and more than occasionally comedic.
Lorde Women’s Player of the Year: If we’re going to make a song and dance about someone, let’s at least nail it to a song and dance merchant. Forget the post-code envy. Let’s crave a different kind of buzz.
James K Baxter Writer of the Year Award: Admittedly this might be confusing for our Scottish brethren, who would think first of “Slim Jim” Baxter but James K epitomised the grandeur of the New Zealand landscape with the human daydream and the short fever of human life. Baxter argued that poetry should contain moral truth, and that every poet should be a prophet (“How can I live in a country where the towns are made like coffins / And the rich are eating the flesh of the poor / Without even knowing it?”). We need far more of that in our football writing today.
Murray Hewitt Administrator of the Year: Murray, as part-time manager of the Flight of the Conchords, was also the Deputy Cultural Attache to the US from New Zealand. Even if he occasionally took bureaucracy a little too far, he ran a first-class meeting, (always in his office at the New Zealand Travel Bureau). Murray epitomises the Kiwi manner in which we have to juggle so many things as football administrators, while still keeping to the agenda.
Anyway, you should get the picture by now. It’s dead easy, like one of those bullshit Bingo exercises. Pick a famous Kiwi, then a longstanding football trophy that is overdue for a facelift and cobble them together.
Make up your own trophy and share it with us in the comments below. (The best new-wave trophy suggestion shall win the 2018 Cordwainer Bull Trophy for total bollocks.)
[Cordwainer Bull is a former Waikato United and Waikato FC programme columnist. His hobbies include collecting telephone books and sniggering. His favourite player was Bomber Dolman.]
Categories: NZ Women's KO Cup
A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/