Inspirational ‘Coxy’ had winning touch
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.