New Zealand sport has lost one of its longest-serving and most versatile administrators Bill MacGowan, who passed away in Auckland yesterday (Friday), aged 66.
MacGowan served in CEO roles in football, rugby league and golf including two years with the then-Auckland Warriors in 1997 and 1998.
He is the third prominent former administrator from the club to pass away recently following the deaths of founding father Peter McLeod in 2015 and ex-owner Malcolm Boyle in February last year.
MacGowan’s passing comes in a week when the Vodafone Warriors have changed ownership, the new majority owner being the Carlaw Heritage Trust, which holds the financial assets of the Auckland Rugby League. When MacGowan was CEO, the club was owned by the ARL.
The Vodafone Warriors will honour Bill in the lead-up to the club's NRL match against the Wests Tigers at Mount Smart Stadium tonight.
His term leading the Auckland Warriors coincided with the game’s most turbulent times – the war between Super League and the Australian Rugby League. MacGowan led the Super League-aligned Warriors as the two factions ran separate competitions in 1997 before a compromise brought about the creation of the National Rugby League in 1998.
As well as the Super League competition, the Auckland Warriors took part in the World Club Challenge involving the 10 Super League clubs from Australasia and 12 Super League clubs from England.
The 1997 year began with Ian Robson as CEO and John Monie as coach but in March, MacGowan replaced Robson and by late April Endacott came in for the departed Monie.
By the end of 1998 MacGowan and Endacott had finished up as the Auckland Rugby League sold the club to the Graham Lowe-Malcolm Boyle and Tainui consortium.
However, the era was notable for many of the club’s foremost players coming through including Stacey Jones, Stephen Kearney, Sean Hoppe, Joe Vagana, Gene Ngamu, Awen Guttenbeil, Logan Swann, Jerry Seuseu, Nigel Vagana, Tony Tuimavave, Tony Tatupu and Ali Lauitiiti.
MacGowan arrived in New Zealand from Scotland as a seven-year-old in the 1950s. He played football at junior level for East Coast Bays before playing for Blockhouse Bay in the national league. He went on to coach a number of clubs, twice being named Auckland’s coach of the year.
His foray into sports administration began with a stint heading up the national football association before moving to the Auckland Warriors.
Following his term there he ran the successful 1999 FIFA Under-17 World Championship in New Zealand before becoming New Zealand Football CEO again.
MacGowan subsequently changed sports to take up a role as New Zealand Golf chief executive. His last position is sports administration was as Auckland Football Federation chief executive, a position he left last July due to illness.
A service for Bill MacGowan will be held at the Omaha Golf Club at 2.00pm next Thursday (May 10).
The Vodafone Warriors pass on their deepest sympathies to Bill’s wife Trish and family.