Herbert joins elite list with repeat victory in sports awards

All Whites football coach Ricki Herbert matched Jeremy Coney and John Gallagher as a back-to-back winner of The Dominion Post Wellington sportsperson of the year award last night.

Herbert's deeds at last year's World Cup where the All Whites went unbeaten through the group phase won him the nod as coach of the year, and also the supreme award.

He won the top prize a year ago for guiding the All Whites through World Cup qualification and for the Phoenix's run to the A-League playoffs. Former New Zealand cricket captain Coney [1985-86] and All Black Gallagher [1987-88] also went back-to-back.

"I am really proud to be a part of the Wellington sporting landscape. Wellington is my home now, as it is the home of football," Herbert said.

His wife, Raewyn, accepted the award, with Herbert in Auckland last night coaching the All Whites in their warmup match against Waitakere United.

Herbert beat a strong field for coach of the year. Finalists included Gary Hurring, whose Capital Swim Club members Gareth Kean and Natasha Hind won Commonwealth Games silver and bronze medals, and Stephen Kearney who guided the Kiwis to the Four Nations league title over Australia.

Backstroker Kean's silver medal in Delhi saw him win sportsman of the year in a close contest with All Whites goalkeeper Mark Paston. The Capital Swim Club also won the club team award over Miramar Rangers' Chatham Cup-winning side.

Newly re-signed Central Pulse netball captain Katrina Grant won sportswoman of the year after another strong season capped by winning Commonwealth Games gold for the Silver Ferns.

Basketball's success in the capital was also recognised, with the Saints winning a tight race for team of the year after claiming the NBL title for the first time since 2003. Beaten finalists were two other national champions, the men's golf and men's hockey lineups.

Saints boss Nick Mills' fine work was rewarded with an administrator of the year gong, heading off the likes of ICC president-elect and former New Zealand Cricket board chairman Alan Isaac.

Another head scratcher for the judges was emerging sportsman, where Phoenix football find Marco Rojas, now with Melbourne Victory, pipped top amateur golfer Ben Campbell and athlete Hamish Carson.

In a minor surprise, the people's choice award for personality of the year went to Richter City from the popular roller derby events.

In an award which attracted 1700 public votes, Richter City beat Lower Hutt boxing identity Billy Graham by just 60 votes. Other finalists were All Black Piri Weepu and veteran broadcaster Keith Quinn.

Three new legends of Wellington sport were officially inducted: All Blacks Ken Gray and Graham Williams, and former Kiwis league captain Colin O'Neil. Quinn and league identity Peter Leitch presided over the induction of O'Neil, while All Blacks legend Brian Lochore oversaw the induction of Williams and Gray, who died in 1992. Gray's wife Joy accepted the accolade.

Wellington sportsperson of the year: Ricki Herbert (football) Sportsman: Gareth Kean (swimming) Sportswoman: Katrina Grant (netball) Team: Saints (basketball) Coach: Ricki Herbert (football) Emerging sportsman: Marco Rojas (football) Emerging sportswoman: Samantha Lee (surf lifesaving) Personality: Richter City Roller Derby Club team: Capital Swim Club Disabled athlete: Jayne Parsons (paracycling) Volunteer: Steve Fox and Nick Lourantos (taekwondo) Official: John Hook (surf lifesaving) Administrator: Nick Mills (basketball) Fair play award: Cricket Wellington and Stephen Fleming (Fill the Basin charity match) Lifetime contribution award: Ian Wells.

The Dominion Post