Former Southland sports historian Barry Smith wins Auckland football award

Football historian Barry Smith, right, receives a long service award from Auckland Football Federation's John McLeod.
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Football historian Barry Smith, right, receives a long service award from Auckland Football Federation's John McLeod.

Former Southland resident Barry Smith has been actively recording football statistics for more than 60 years.

The Auckland-based sports buff was presented with the Auckland Football Federation long service award recently, as recognition for his work compiling appearance records for Northern League football teams since 1968.

"Basically I go through team sheets each year and record the number of games for each player," he said.

As an 11-year-old he would pour over cricket and rugby almanacs full of facts and figures, but four years later when the Association Football in New Zealand book was released, he decided since it was quite bare on covering the football season, he would try his hand at compiling an annual for the sport.

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Smith began in 1954 when he typed a NZ annual, while still at school. 

"I wrote to all the football associations around the country seeking information, but only six replied," he said.

"One of those was Southland, the local president Larry O'Rorke was kind enough to send me a copy of the SFA Golden Jubilee Handbook."

Suitably inspired, he used his pocket money to pay a public typist to put his work into print and distributed copies to the associations who had responded to his request.

Smith moved to Invercargill in November 1963 from Wellington on promotion in the Department of Lands and Survey to fill an administrative role in the settlement section, where he became heavily involved with the Panthers Softball Club.

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He was part of the team that won the Calder-Mackay Trophy for the first time in 1963-1964 and also coached the Southland women's softball team.

While the historian left Southland in the 1960s, he still has a soft spot for the south.

Smith has family living in Southland and visits the province when he can.
  
He also helped collect statistics for the book, Southland Soccer: A Century of Football 1903-2003.

Among his many achievements, Smith was the editor of the New Zealand Soccer Annual for 15 years and an honorary historian for NZ Football.  

"My dream is a football museum akin to the Rugby Museum in Palmerston North," he said.

"I have endeavoured to collect anything ever written about the sport of football in New Zealand and regularly fill 30 or more scrapbooks with cuttings on the game.  I am an avid collector of local football programmes."

 - Stuff

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