Passed Away 2017
John joined the club as a 7 year old in 1953. He was given a half-game each week in the under-12s or junior 6th grade, (our only other team were under-16s), coached by 1949 “Settlers” fullback Bob Reid. John’s father managed the side and John’s major contribution was (at a time when many people didn’t have phones) cycling to Gear Street each home game to hassle the 1st team captain and ask him to referee.
After a couple of years, the team went down to the junior sevenths, as older boys moving on enabled the team to play in a lower grade. Many parents didn’t have cars, and cycling to games as far away as Naenae was the norm for his age group. He can also recall training in the late 1950s on the Petone Recreation Ground near the Scout Hall, using floodlights on Udy Street lampposts.
In the 1950s he helped in the Hilton-Petone Tournament with setting up the grounds, with the blanket collection for coin donations, and in selling the programmes. In his last year at Wilford School, John’s initiative led to posts being erected in the school ground. From the age of 12 he represented Hutt Valley in various age group teams. He used to enjoy playing for his team and later filling-in for an older or senior team.
With his father a long-time executive of the club, John learned about administration at an early age. In 1962, school certificate year, he took on the position of secretary/treasurer of the junior management committee (JMC), at that time looking after eight teams, and introduced more formal management and reporting. Sundays were spent writing a weekly column that he started in the Petone Chronicle, reporting on every game played by a Petone senior or junior team the previous Saturday.
At the end of the 1962 season, aged 16, John made his 1st team debut against Stop Out at Te Whiti Park. He was next invited to play in the 1963 Hilton-Petone End of Season Tournament. Petone were the beaten finalists, losing to Marist after the day before having beaten Northern 3-2. John played each game in the tournament, and scored the winning goal against Northern with its five New Zealand representatives.
He player/coached the under-16 and under-18 sides through to 1964, and also refereed and helped to coach various younger sides. From 1965, he was a junior coach and also selector/coach of a Hutt Valley representative side. He arranged the first game of football played by and at Hutt Valley High School, in which they thrashed secondary school champions Naenae College. He also represented the club on the Hutt Valley FA, becoming deputy chairman of it from 1965.
After four years as JMC secretary, he became chairman through 1966 – 1968. At that time the biggest junior club in the Hutt Valley with 12 teams, he sought and secured separate financial responsibility for the JMC. He also led by example in fun fund-raising like bottle drives, including mapping the streets for each vehicle and the mailbox drops beforehand, and annual raffle selling. And he was involved in lots of working bees for maintaining and painting the gym, which had opened in April 1968.
From 1965, John made regular 1st team appearances. The start of the Central League in 1968 and its good record-keeping saw him become the first Petone player to reach 100 Central League games and just the fifth player in the Central Regional League to record 100 games for one club. He played in the midfield, at centre back and finally at right back. He retired from 1st team football at the end of the 1976 season, having across all seasons made well over 170 league appearances. From 1976, John played for, and in some years coached, the successful 2nd and then 3rd teams, and finished his playing days in his mid-50s.
John was elected to the management committee from the 1971 season and took over organising the Hilton –Petone Tournament: changing it into pre-season; introducing round-robin games; spreading it around numerous grounds; and introducing significant sponsorship funding. From 1977, after a year aside, John managed all aspects of the tournament without the management committee having to be involved through to 1986, when it became part of the Club Manager’s duties.
In 1972, John was elected chairman, a position he held until 1995, except for a few months in 1976. It was a unique position for a 1st team player – very much a case of building a committee and leading people inexperienced in management. Features of his chairmanship were: a high standard of administration, acknowledged by the WFA; establishing an unprecedented period of management stability, which has kept Petone at the forefront of local football; leadership and management in arranging the building and later extensions of the clubrooms, and in the floodlighting of No.3 pitch; ensuring financial sustainability; keeping members informed through a monthly newsletter; introducing a fulltime manager role and making it work; and tinkling the ivories for many great sing-alongs in the clubrooms.
In 1975 John was elected a life member of the club for his very intensive and wide-ranging contribution on and off the field, most often in positions of responsibility. In 1982 he was awarded the Boyden Silver Badge by the Wellington Football Association recognising twenty years’ administrative and coaching service to football.
John was one of Petone’s two directors on Hutt Valley United’s Board in 1986 – 89. But 1988-89 was more notable for the very long hours he spent researching and writing much of the Centenary booklet, and organising the Centenary celebrations.
In 1995, he was elected President and was very active in that role, giving leadership, guidance and advice, through to 2005. In more recent years, his most active contributions have been in thoroughly researching the club’s foundation date and revising it to 1898, and researching and writing the club’s history to provide information for the Honours Board, the Timeline boards, and articles on all life members for the website.
In 2013, John completed 60 years of very active club membership.
In 2014 at the Capital Football Awards, John Bradbury was inducted into the Wellington Football Hall of Fame. John joined an illustrious few who had been inducted such as Wynton Rufer, Barry Truman, Malcolm Dunford, Vaughan Coveny and Maureen Jacobsen and was the first Administrator to be included. This capped off a remarkable year for John who also received the Life Time Achievement Award at the 2014 Wellington Sports Awards and was also honoured during the season by our club, culminating in the clubroom lounge being named ‘The John Bradbury Lounge’. The recognition of John’s achievements this year is richly deserved for an outstanding career in football administration and governance.
Sadly John passed away on 31 December 2017.