Two world-class strikers big winners at annual awards

Leading FIH Pro League goal-scorer Olivia Merry and Premier Hockey League MVP Jacob Smith were the big winners at the Hockey New Zealand Awards in Auckland last night.

Merry, named Vantage Black Sticks Women’s Player of the Year for consecutive years, continued her phenomenal goal-scoring form in the interrupted 2020 Pro League claiming 10 goals to sit on top of the goal-scoring table for the second year in a row.

Her fourth goal in a 4-1 victory over Belgium took Merry past Anita McLaren for the all-time record of 106 goals for the Black Sticks. The 29-year-old Canterbury striker, who was nominated for the FIH Player of the Year award in 2019 after 15 Pro League goals and an outstanding Oceania Cup, now sits on a record 112 goals for her country.

Smith, named Vantage Black Sticks Men’s 2020 Player of the Year last night, was in outstanding form in the new Sentinel Homes Premier Hockey League in late 2020 helping his Central Falcons side to the inaugural title and claiming the Most Valuable Player award.

The 30-year-old Wellington striker, who has 86 caps for his country after making his debut in 2012, was also instrumental in the Black Sticks qualification for Tokyo.

Manawatu striker Olivia Shannon and new Black Stick Sean Findlay were named Under-21 Players of the Year, with Shannon collecting the award for the second year in a row.

Meanwhile two Outstanding Contribution to Administration awards (known as the Pakistan Trophy) were made last night after last year’s awards event was cancelled because of Covid-19.

The Pakistan Trophy for 2019 was awarded to North Harbour’s Sharon Williamson who was the driving force behind the country’s new premier hockey venue – the National Hockey Centre in Albany.

Williamson volunteered thousands of hours across seven years to ensure this world-class facility opened in time for the first 2020 Pro League matches. Many have commented that the centre would not be a reality today without her input, drive and commitment.

The Pakistan Trophy for 2020 was awarded to Canterbury’s Peter Cox who was instrumental in getting Christchurch’s Nunweek Park redeveloped post the city’s devastating earthquake.

Cox has been a Nga Puna Wai trustee since its inception, helping to develop the venue into a cornerstone of the Canterbury hockey community, as well as assisting with the Mainpower Waimakariri Turf and a new turf in Rolleston due to open later this year.

Hockey NZ AGM
Hockey NZ held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) yesterday with Chair Mike Bignell moving from being an appointed to an elected member, and Otago Hockey Chair John Daniel being elected to the Board.

Marlborough’s Andy Rowe finished up after 10 years on the Board, and Tony Morris stepped down. A new appointed Board member is still being sought.

Also at the AGM, Auckland’s Grant Chester was awarded Life Membership of Hockey NZ for more than 50 years of achievements in the sport. As well as playing, coaching and managing, Chester has supported local turf projects at both Mt Roskill Grammar and Henderson High School in Auckland.

Chester has also provided employment for a number of Black Sticks, and with brother Colin they have arranged for surplus gear to be given to Associations around the country and across the Pacific.

Hockey New Zealand Awards – 2020 winners
Vantage Black Sticks Women’s Player of the Year: Olivia Merry (Canterbury)
Vantage Black Sticks Men’s Player of the Year: Jacob Smith (Wellington)

Vantage Black Sticks Women’s Under-21 Player of the Year: Olivia Shannon (Manawatu)
Vantage Black Sticks Men’s Under-21 Player of the Year: Sean Findlay (Hawke’s Bay)

Pakistan Trophy (Outstanding Contribution to Administration): 2019 Sharon Williamson (North Harbour) and 2020 Peter Cox (Canterbury).

Outstanding Contribution to Coaching: Chris Leslie (Canterbury), Verity Sharland (Manawatu) and Colette Mackenzie (Wellington).

Male Umpire of the Year: Gareth Greenfield (Canterbury)
Female Umpire of the Year: Amber Church (Poverty Bay)
Community Umpire of the Year: Georgia Mayo (Hawke’s Bay)

Administrator of the Year: Ally Roberts (Manawatu)
Volunteer of the Year: Judith Quinlan (North Harbour)
Sky Sport Most Outstanding Young Person of the Year: Finn Caske (Manawatu)
Club of the Year: Carlton Redcliffs (Canterbury)
Community Initiative of the Year: Hockey Manawatu – Manawatu Sports Outdoor Holiday Programme

Gold Membership Award (increase in participation numbers): Eastern Southland
Silver Membership Award (increase in participation numbers): Buller
Bronze Membership Award (increase in participation numbers): Counties Manukau

Gold Service Awards (25 years’ service):
Alan Blewett (Hawke’s Bay)
John Daniel (Otago)
David Fisher (Mid-Canterbury)
Shirley Gillett (Otago)
Owen Goodwin (North Harbour)
Merf Hornsby (North Harbour)
Alastair Kerr (Waikato)
Philip Limmer (Waikato)
Dave Ross (Otago)
Kirsten Smith (North Harbour)
Jan Wilson (Nelson)

Silver Service Awards (20 years’ service):
Karen Bennett (Canterbury)
Steve Campbell (North Harbour)
Kim Gilfillan (North Harbour)
Lyndsay Jones (Canterbury)
Brad Montgomerie (North Harbour)
Nic Rankin (Canterbury)
Kirsten Stuckey (North Harbour)

Bronze Service Awards (15 years’ service):
Jack Bramah (North Harbour)
Hamish Ellis-Jack (North Harbour)
Eddie Forster (Wellington)
Paul Hayes (North Harbour)
Barbara Meiklejohn (Wellington)
Sandi Notredame (North Harbour)
Kevin Richards (Wellington)

Posted on Sunday, 2 May, 2021 | CommunityFeatureVantage Black Sticks