"I believe the only way to live and to be truly successful is by collective effort, with everyone working for each other, everyone helping each other, and everyone having a share of the rewards at the end of the day". Bill Shankly
Since I first joined the NZ Soccer Media Association (as they were then known) in 1991, I've submitted an entry for the Writer of the Year award every year without fail.
I've been successful in numerous other categories over the years - editor of the Club Magazine / Publication of the Year on four occasions, and in 2002, the unique treble of Website of the Year, the "Straight Shooter" award and the National League Media Person of the Year.
But the writing award has always proved elusive.
I've often wondered if this was due to my entry - which was invariably top-heavy with women's football content - having been cast aside from the outset by a judge from the "a woman's place is in the kitchen" line of thinking.
So you can imagine how I felt when women's football was specifically mentioned in the judge's comments prior to the naming of the winner of the NZ Football Media Association's Regional / Community Writer of the Year award for 2013, at the Friends Of Football's Celebration of Excellence evening on 6 November.
Imagine no more. Stunned, then dead proud, but at the same time, very humble.
I'm naturally very grateful for the recognition of what I do in and for the game in New Zealand via this accolade. But even more importantly to me, it's recognition by the football media of those for whom I do what I do.
The name on the plaque might be mine, but as far as I'm concerned, the NZFMA Regional / Community Writer of the Year award is one which
all the women's footballers I've written about over the years, be they internationals, regional reps or just your regular "Stars on Sunday", can feel they have some ownership of.
Every single one of them has played some part in its realisation, dating back to when I first put fingers to keyboard in the interests of women's football in May, 1987.
Needless to say, it would be impossible to name them all, but it would be wholly inappropriate, in light of this recognition, not to acknowledge a select score - most are familiar names - whose skill, inspiration and, on the odd occasion, encouraging words have driven me on at various times over the years.
In alphabetical order: Hayley Bowden. Simone Carmichael. Barbara Cox. Michele Cox. Wendi Henderson. Maia Jackman. Marlies James. Terry McCahill. Debbie Pullen RIP. Jo Rombouts. Wendy Sharpe. Rebecca Simpson. Rebecca Smith. Rebecca Sowden. Leah Tagaloa. Zoe Thompson. Monique Van de Elzen. Hannah Wall. Carol Waller. Kirsty Yallop.
As well, there are ten clubs in particular I should mention upon receipt of this award, namely Auckland City, Bay Olympic, Central United, Lynn-Avon United, Metro, Mt. Albert-Ponsonby, Onehunga Sports, Onehunga-Mangere United, Three Kings United and Western Springs.
I've covered the exploits of these clubs - and, in some cases, their parent clubs - in the Central Leader every season since my Central Auckland Soccer column first appeared in 1992. So this award recognises their not insignificant contributions to my work over the years as well.
Sincere thanks to you all.
Jeremy Ruane, 8/11/14