Most local sporting organisations have dedicated volunteers who are critical to their survival.
They are the people working behind the scenes, driven by pure passion for the sport and the thrill of seeing others participate.
There is no doubt Rotorua's Alan Long was one of those people.
Long, who died on September 18, aged 86, arrived in Rotorua from England in 1947, as a 13-year-old and during the next seven decades left his mark on cricket in the area.
Grant Utteridge, former chairman of Sport Bay of Plenty and Rotorua Cricket has fond memories of Long's love for the sport.
"He was a true gentleman of the sport. He was just a genuine, down-to-earth, good guy.
"I came [to Rotorua] in 1982 and started playing for Central in 83. I knew Alan until he died, effectively. He was just a genuine lover of cricket, he was so passionate about the game and so passionate about everything he did for cricket."
When Long arrived in Rotorua, he immediately joined the then RSA Cricket Club. The club changed its name to Central in the 1950s.
Long played for the Central Cricket Club for 50 years – an extremely rare feat acknowledged in a citation from New Zealand Cricket in 1997.
"In these days of commercialism, club and provincial loyalty is rapidly fading from the scene and you have set an example which stands out like a beacon," New Zealand Cricket president at the time Iain Gallaway said of Long's achievement.
During and long after his playing career, Long continued to be a driving force behind the local game, holding a number of administrative positions.
He remains the only person to be named a life member of both the Rotorua and Bay of Plenty Cricket associations.
He was elected president of the Bay of Plenty association in 1974, a position he retained until 1989. He spent about 40 years as president of the Central Cricket Club and some time as Rotorua Cricket president in the 1990s.
He also had two four-year stints on the management committee of Northern Districts Cricket. He played a significant role in securing several first class cricket matches at Rotorua's Smallbone Park.
Long was the prime organiser of the Fernleaf Cricket Club. Fernleaf was an informal 'Barbarians-style' club involving players from different sides which played occasional matches against visiting teams
He organised a Fernleaf tour to the UK in 1990 – he also managed the side which included former provincial representatives Kevin Craig and Richard Shrimpton. Fernleaf played matches in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England and achieved a respectable win-loss record.
He had significant involvement in other sports too. He represented Rotorua in both soccer and table tennis and was an administrator in both sports.
In his later years he and his wife Connie also played indoor bowls.
Utteridge said Long was always "great to talk to about cricket".
"He knew what he was talking about, that's for sure. He would always stand up to anyone else, whatever hat he was wearing, he'd stand up for the club or the association. He was a determined character, he was a bit older when I played with him so he wasn't scoring a whole lot of runs but he was there and he was giving 100 per cent.
"He was salt of the earth and that's what you needed. You needed a guy who was passionate about your club and wasn't going to let it fail. Community sport is bloody hard work so having guys that are willing to put a whole lot of time in is crucial.
"He was really well respected by the opposition and his teammates. He's a total legend of the Central Cricket Club."
John Alan Long (Alan), born July 17, 1934, passed away peacefully at Cantabria Lifecare on September 18, aged 86 years. Much loved husband of Connie. Loved stepdad of Colleen and the late Brian, Barbara and the late Gurt, Richard and Kitty, Gordon and Karen, Steve and Paulette. In accordance with Alan's wishes a private family service was held in Rotorua on Tuesday. All communications to "Long Family" C/- Collingwood, 5 Pretoria St, Rotorua.