In­spi­ra­tional ‘Coxy’ had win­ning touch

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JEREMY RUANE

The women’s foot­balling com­mu­nity and the wider foot­balling com­mu­nity are mourn­ing the death of the man widely re­garded as the found­ing fa­ther of women’s foot­ball in New Zealand.

Roy Cox, 76, died on Jan­uary 17 af­ter a five-year bat­tle with can­cer.

Cox played for the Brent­ford Foot­ball Club ju­niors and spent three years at his beloved Queens Park Rangers be­fore knee car­ti­lage prob­lems put paid to his pro­fes­sional foot­balling as­pi­ra­tions.

He ar­rived in New Zealand in 1970 and af­ter join­ing the Eden men’s re­serve side be­gan tak­ing an ac­tive in­ter­est in the women’s game in 1973, when his wife, Bar­bara, was per­suaded to join the Eden club.

Within months, he and Jan Innes es­tab­lished the North­ern Women’s Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (NWFA), later named the Auck­land Women’s Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion.

By the end of July that year, the age-old ri­valry with Welling­ton was born and ever since clashes be­tween the se­nior women’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive teams of th­ese cities have bat­tled it out to win the Roy Cox Shield.

When North­ern, Welling­ton and Can­ter­bury women’s foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tions were prompted to put their dif­fer­ences aside to form the New Zealand Women’s Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion to com­pete for the Asian Cup in 1975, Cox stepped up as the as­so­ci­a­tion’s first pres­i­dent.

New Zealand went on to win the Asian Cup in the coun­try’s first ex­cur­sion on the world women’s foot­balling stage.

It was at the an­nual week-long gath­er­ings of the coun­try’s best play­ers for the Na­tional Tour­na­ment, suc­ceeded by the Na­tional Women’s League, that Cox was very much in his el­e­ment, pri­mar­ily in his se­lec­tor-man­ager ca­pac­ity with Auck­land.

Dur­ing his first spell in that role, be­tween 1979 and 1983, the Auck­land se­nior rep­re­sen­ta­tive women lost just three matches out of 58 games. Of the 47 games played dur­ing his other tenures, in 1990 and 1991, and be­tween 1997 and 2000, there were just two draws and two de­feats.

On the in­ter­na­tional stage, Cox was charged with the task of guid­ing New Zealand’s progress be­tween 1983 and 1987.

He over­saw 22 matches, 11 of which were won, in­clud­ing the in­au­gu­ral Ocea­nia Cup Fi­nal, which saw New Zealand score a come-from-be­hind 3-2 win over Aus­tralia in 1983.

Some of New Zealand’s top fe­male foot­ballers graced Cox’s teams dur­ing his re­mark­able ca­reer. But his great­est pride and joy was re­served for the achieve­ments, both on and off the field, of his in­ter­na­tional foot­ball play­ing wife, and daugh­ters Michele and Tara.

A high­light of his ca­reer was be­ing named as kit man­ager for the 1992 All Whites squad’s Bri­tish tour, which fea­tured the fa­mous 1-0 win over Glas­gow Celtic at Park­head.

In tan­dem with Bar­bara and Bob Dou­glas, Cox then went on to help turn the Mt Welling­ton AFC into a club boast­ing some of the best fa­cil­i­ties avail­able in the game to­day, an­other achieve­ment in which he took great pride.

Cox’s im­mense con­tri­bu­tion to women’s foot­ball over the years has been ac­knowl­edged by a Ser­vice To Sport Award from Sport Auck­land in 2001 and an Auck­land Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion Long Ser­vice Medal in 2009.

Th­ese ac­co­lades are far out­weighed by his great­est legacy – those foot­ballers who have as­pired to reach the stan­dards Cox set them, who savoured success as a re­sult, and who are now pass­ing those stan­dards on for the ben­e­fit of cur­rent and fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

Yes, ‘‘Coxy’’ made things hap­pen all right. He will be missed by many.

Foot­ball le­gend: Roy Cox, the man known as the found­ing fa­ther of women’s foot­ball, died on Jan­uary 17.

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