Sky Sport’s documentary ‘Keeping the Faith: 25 Years of the Warriors’ was a big winner at the 2019 New Zealand Television Awards last night.Named the best sports programme was ‘The Early Years’, the first episode of the three-part series which focused heavily on the Auckland Warriors’ debut in the Winfield Cup (now the NRL) in 1995.
The club’s creation and arrival generated unprecedented levels of excitement, hype and expectation ahead of opening night against the Brisbane Broncos at the then-named Ericsson Stadium on Friday, March 10, 1995. Throughout that first season the John Monie-coached Auckland Warriors dazzled packed home crowds during a campaign which promised so much but ultimately just failed to deliver a place in the finals.
The Super League war, coaching, CEO and ownership changes followed in quick succession which would see the club twice threatened by extinction (in 1998 and 2000).
The series used priceless archived footage and interviews to trace the early years, complemented by fresh interviews with key identities from the times.
Sky Sport produced ‘Keeping the Faith”, which premiered in May, to coincide with and celebrate the club’s 25th season in existence.
It was promoted as “the quarter century tale of New Zealand’s lone NRL club, from Jones to Johnson, Vagana to Vatuvei, Tuimavave to Tuivasa-Sheck. It will follow the highs and lows of their 25 years as a club.”
Among those interviewed across the three programmes were Dean Bell, Greg Alexander, John Kirwan. Daniel Anderson, Mick Watson, Shaun Johnson, Ivan Cleary, Ali Lauitiiti, Ian Robson, Graham Lowe, Ruben Wiki, Joe Vagana and more.