2017 Life Members

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Congratulations to Ian Howard and Peter Thomas, who were awarded Life Membership of the club at the 2017 AGM.

Ian Howard

While we cant say this person is born and bred in Upper Hutt, he has certainly been a big part of the Upper Hutt football landscape for many years.  Ian Howard arrived in New Zealand in 1973 and immediately joined Upper Hutt United as a junior. Ian continued with the club moving from the junior ranks, into senior football where he quickly began playing for the men’s first team.

From there Ian joined Tararua United playing in the men’s first team before having a short stint with Petone’s Central League side where Ian’s claim to fame is being one of the few players to actually get on with Grant Turner.  Ian returned to Tararua United where he continued playing with the first team, through the amalgamation and was the first player to be recognised as having reached the 100 Central League game milestone for the club.

Since then Ian has continued to grace the field and display those silky skills in the masters’ grades.  While Ian’s involvement as a player certainly qualifies for the category of ‘great club man’, it’s his contribution off the pitch that I think qualifies him for life membership.

Ian has spent many hours investing his time with the players having coached the 2nd team, taking them to a league title in the late 90’s, coaching the 1st team, the U19’s, and for many years was up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning setting up what is now known as the First Kicks program. This included coaching a group of youngsters, even though his own children had long since stopped playing junior football.

Ian has twice been a committee member, but even though he is no longer on the committee is always first to put his hand up when there are odd jobs to be done around the club and is a regular fixture helping run the Upper Hutt U19 tournament.

In my Chairman’s report earlier I made the point that the club needs more volunteers and I think Ian is a shining example. While no longer on the Committee, Ian is always willing to lend a hand where he can.  The U19 Player of the Tournament Trophy is named after Ian’s father and I think it is only right that Ian’s name is also recorded as part of the club’s history by adding his name to the life members honours board.

For this reason I would like to nominate Ian Howard for Life Membership of Upper Hutt Football. 

Peter Thomas
I first heard about this person before I met him.  It was pre season training in 1987 when my dad came home from watching a session and said to me, you want to see this player that’s just turned up, he would fit the exact description of the player we are looking for.

And Dad was right, while it can be hard to imagine it now, Peter Thomas was a big, strong, powerful player with quick feet, a passion for the game and a leadership style that inspired the players around him. While Peter might like to compare himself to a Steven Gerrard, or a Brian Robson, I would say he was more like a Patrick Viera and Peter, that is a compliment as Patrick did win a world cup.

Peter’s contribution to the club from a playing perspective was phenomenal. Peter joined when Tararua United was in Central League 3, and over the next ten or so years, through both his playing ability, captaincy and leadership, helped the team get promoted all the way up to Central League 1.  While playing in Central League 1 Upper Hutt played its first ever competitive League Game against Lower Hutt’s first team which was appropriate as it coincided with Peter’s 200th cap for the first team. From memory that game include a few other well known personalities including Phil Patterson, Pedro Garcias, Kevin Stone, Mark Foster and Rodney Mays.

But as with many of our other Life Members it is their contribution to running the club that is even more important.

Peter joined the committee in 2009 as Chairman. In that time he oversaw the rise of the first team back into Central League1, was instrumental in the development of the Maidstone Park Turf trust which he chaired for 5 years and oversaw the club’s move to Maidstone Park and the redevelopment of this facility.

And while on paper these achievements sound great, they don’t do justice to the time and effort that was required to make this happen in a way that didn’t disrupt the normal operation of the club.

Under Peter’s watch Upper Hutt Football has gone from strength to strength.  Unfortunately for the club, Peter’s work has taken him away from Upper Hutt. But that hasn’t stopped Peter continuing with his Treasurer’s role even though he has been based in Auckland for the past two years.  I believe it is now time to recognise Peter’s contribution and would like to nominate him for a a Life Membership.