Soccer: Dawkins steps down for 'new people and new ideas'

By Terry Maddaford

Rex Dawkins. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Rex Dawkins. Photo / Brett Phibbs

After almost 30 years of leading the way at club, provincial, national and international level, Waitakere soccer stalwart Rex Dawkins has called it quits.

Outspoken at times, Dawkins was always passionate and a pathfinder in giving West Auckland players a chance to perform on soccer's biggest stages.

Saying he feels "my time has come", Dawkins will step down from his hands-on role at Waitakere United next month, ironically on the day his club will play perennial rivals Auckland City in the season-opening ASB Charity Cup game.

Tagging "all losses to Auckland City" as his biggest disappointment in his time "out west", Dawkins just as quickly lauds the part the two clubs have played in making the ASB Premiership, and its predecessor the NZ Football Championship, what it is today.

"The relationship between the two clubs is obviously fierce," said Dawkins in confirming his departure yesterday.

"We have been rivals in the truest sense of the word but I'm sure there is mutual respect just as there has been between me and [City chairman] Ivan Vuksich. Like me, he has always striven to do the best for the game."

Dawkins, a driving force in the formation of Waitakere City, has done it all.

He chaired that new club, employing Jimmy Sheppard, Joe Collins, Sam Malcolmson and Keith Pritchett as coaches through those formative years which led to rapid promotion through the grades from third division to the premiers in the Northern League.

"With Keith Pritchett as coach, we won the grand finals in 1987 and 1988 and went on to be handed a place in the National League, which we won four times, along with the Chatham Cup, which we won three times."

As well as his role at the club, Dawkins went on to serve on the Northern Provincial Council and the Auckland Football Association, where he was also chairman.

He had four years on the board of New Zealand Football including a short time as deputy chairman.

In 2003 Waitakere United was formed, driven by Waitakere City chairman Peter Bult and Bay Olympic chairman Ross Clow.

"They pieced together a club from the west with 12 member clubs.

" But as I was on the board of New Zealand Football at the time, I took no part in that or the voting when the decision was made," said Dawkins.

It was not long before Dawkins was back with his first love - club football and the rivalry with Auckland City.

"There is no doubt the rivalry between the two clubs drove Waitakere to be as good as they were," said Dawkins.

"One game stands out. Auckland City had just returned from the Club World Cup.

"We led them 3-0 at halftime at Kiwitea St but Foxy - referee Neil Fox - took over and dished out 19 cards as Auckland City came back to win 4-3.

"No one will ever forget that game."

The biggest thrill for Dawkins came in 2008 when Waitakere won through to the Club World Cup competition in Japan where they went close to upsetting the Adelaide United side.

This in turn led to his elevation to Fifa's Club Committee, on which he served for three years.

Of the reason to call time, Dawkins said "I have done my time. It is time to bring in new people and new ideas.

"I was personally disappointed when Neil Emblen was not reappointed [as coach] but I understand the need for fresh blood."

DREAM TEAM

Rex Dawkins' best team: John Ferguson (West Auckland), Neil Woodhams (Waitakere City), Neil Emblen (Waitakere United), Roger Gray (City) captain, Keith Pritchett (City), Roy Krishna (United), Carl Jorgensen (City), Jake Butler (United), Thomas Edge (City), Mark Farrington (Kelston West), Darren McClennan (City).

Best player: Krishna.

Best coach: Pritchett.

- NZ Herald

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