Manurewa FC (Part 2).

Manurewa FC (Part 2).

Season 1984.


I made three significant signings at the beginning of the season; John Price from Mt Wellington, Kevin Hagan from Napier and a young trialist; Paul Marshall from Mt Albert Ponsonby.   Price was a strong competitor, possessed a natural left foot and could pin point his passes and crosses. His signing allowed me to move Dave Bright into the middle of the defence, alongside Keith Garland.   Kevin Hagan was an ‘all round’ footballer, with an excellent touch, very creative, a good striker of the ball and excellent in the air.   Hagan’s versatility sometimes worked against him, as I was obliged to use him in several positions during the course of the season, due to our long injury list.

A young Kevin Hagen and I mix it in a 1970’s Stop Out v Blockhouse Bay match.

Paul Marshall was an interesting addition; I took him on trial on the recommendation of Gary Jenkins.   For a young man with a short experience in the game Marshall was full of confidence, he told me that he needed no assurances and that he would fight for a place in the team.   I really admired his attitude and although he didn’t cement a permanent place in the starting line-up he played enough games during the season to back up his self-assurance.

With these additions to our Championship winning squad I felt very confident of repeating our last season’s accomplishments.   However, injuries to key players cost us dearly, and once again we struggled during the early part of the season, thus never getting a consistent run at retaining our League title.

John Price was a notable addition to the 1984 Manurewa squad.

Nonetheless the season was packed with incidents, none more highly charged than an early visit to Napier where, during the half-time break, I found myself sandwiched amongst a group of players and officials as Kevin Hagen swapped punches with the Napier Coach Roger Wilkinson.   The reason for the confrontation had its foundation in the previous season, when Kevin had been a Napier player.   He held a grievance resulting from what he regarded as the club not fulfilling his terms of agreement this resulting in the half-time flare-up.   The game continued and despite all the resulting aggro, we escaped with a well-earned draw; the youngster Paul Marshall coming on as substitute and providing us with a late equalizer.   The Hagan – Wilkinson affair was settled in court later in the year with Kevin forking out a $50 fine.

An earlier pre-season fixture had seen Gallaher Park packed to its capacity when we entertained the NZ ‘All Whites’ in a practice game, prior to the NZ team leaving on an overseas tour.   The floodlit match produced an exciting, entertaining and high scoring game for the large Saturday evening crowd.   However, this game was surpassed in anticipation and excitement when we hosted the University Club of Auckland, midway through the season in a National league fixture.   The reason for the interest and enthusiasm was the first appearance, in New Zealand, of West Ham United and England legend; Trevor Brooking.   At thirty five years of age and straight off the plane from London, Brooking was still able to show his class to the appreciative New Zealand football public.   The game ended in a 2 – 2 draw in which both teams gave creditable performances.

England International; Trevor Brooking attracted a record crowd to Gallaher Park.

Another eventful match day occurred when we hosted Gisborne City later on in the season at a time when Gisborne were riding high at the top of the League and were almost untouchable in terms of results.   At some early stage of a very wet match day I was informed that the referee had deemed the pitch unplayable.   I therefore disbanded the team, only for the referee’s decision to be reversed by officials of NZ Football on the grounds that Gisborne were already in Auckland.   After angrily debating the issue with Kevin Fallon (Gisborne’s Coach) and Gwyn Evans from NZ Football (who I accused of being Fallon’s puppet) I somehow scratched a team together, minus at least a couple of players whom I couldn’t contact.   I then left the team under the guidance of my able assistant Dave Bright, whilst the injured Steve Sumner took me aside to cool off and we both watched the game from the side-lines.   The whole situation back-fired badly on Gisborne City as, on a mud soaked pitch, our depleted squad went on to score a well-deserved victory by 2 – 1; leaving Gisborne with their first defeat of the season.

Gisborne City’s 1984 Championship winners Coach; Kevin Fallon.

In spite of our inconsistent League form we built up a string of results in NZ’s next most prestigious football competition, the Chatham Cup.   For decades football clubs throughout New Zealand had fought their way through the preliminary rounds of this competition with the hope of having a crack at one of the ‘big guns’ in the later rounds.   As one of the country’s top clubs, Manurewa had to overcome some difficult games, against a variety of opponents, as we unconvincingly staggered our way towards the final.

The third round draw threw up a sticky away fixture against Oratia in front of their parochial supporters, on a muddy pitch, at Parrs Park out in the west of Auckland.   In a tight uncompromising game we came through with a 2-1 victory thanks to goals from our diminutive attackers, Kevin Birch and Keith MacKay.   The fourth round saw us at home against another third tier team; Eddie Edge’s, Mt Maunganui.   This also turned out to be a ‘close call’ in which we came back from a goal down to register another 2-1 victory with goals from the dependable Mark Armstrong and the irrepressible Keith MacKay.

Manurewa’s diminutive attackers Kevin Birch and Keith MacKay were highly effective.

The quarter finals gave us another home tie; this time a local derby against out Franklin neighbours Papatoetoe United.   This game produced a marathon contest, and with the game scoreless after ninety minutes, and also at the end of extra time, we finally won through; 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out.   Despite our injury problems we had begun to put a good run of games together in the National League and this, combined with our cup run, fostered a strong feeling in the camp that we could salvage our season in the next best possible way, by winning the Chatham Cup.   When the semi-final draw was announced we were once more favoured with a home tie; against Christchurch United.

If we thought that the quarter final against Papatoetoe had taken an age to resolve then the semi- final tie with Christchurch took an eon before it was settled.   The first game on a Sunday afternoon finished scoreless after extra time had been played, therefore, condemning Christchurch United to remain overnight in Auckland for the replay.   In the next day’s game the deadlock was finally broken with a goal by Mark Armstrong and after a 210 minute contest.   We were finally through to the Chatham Cup Final where we would face Gisborne City who had seen off North Shore United in the other semi-final.


Kevin Fallon and I in an interview prior to the Chatham Cup Final.

Under Kevin Fallon’s guidance Gisborne City had been worthy 1984 champions and were expected to complete the League and Cup ‘double’ by defeating Manurewa at Mt Smart Stadium in the Chatham Cup final.   Although we were ‘written off’ by most of the pundits I felt quite confident that we could overcome Gisborne, provided that I could field my strongest lineup.   All season we had been plagued by injuries and had been unable to mount a serious assault on retaining our title.  I was convinced however, that player for player we had a stronger squad than Gisborne and was quite surprised that the pundits didn’t realise this.   I added to their scepticism by fielding a weakened team for our final League game against Papatoetoe where we received a 5-0 battering, thus adding to the belief that we would be easy pickings for Gisborne City on Cup Final day.


Keith Garland was a highly competitive character.

My instinct proved correct and even though Steve Sumner, John Price and Keith Garland were less than one hundred per-cent fit I knew that they had the character and resilience to last the full game.   The only first team regular to miss out due to injury was the unfortunate Peter Bryson.   In the match itself, we established early superiority by going two goals up, courtesy of Steve Sumner, and although Gisborne rallied later in the game we were able to hold out thanks to two first class saves by our young goalkeeper, Rudi Feitsma.   The final result read Manurewa 2 Gisborne City 1.


Manurewa captain Dave Bright holds the Chatham Cup aloft.

A highlight for me, at the post game reception, was a short conversation with Sir Alf Ramsey, who had led England to its only World Cup victory, back in 1966.   Ramsey was complimentary about the quality of Manurewa’s football, which I felt was quite an accolade, particularly from someone not given to condescending and flippant remarks.

Sir Alf Ramsey had complimentary comments to make about Manurewa’s performance.

I had made my intentions clear to Manurewa FC that the Cup Final would be my last game in charge of the team and having helped the club to the National league title and Chatham Cup winners in two consecutive seasons I felt that the time was right for me to move on.   My personality is one which needs to constantly have new interests and challenges, both within and outside of football.   Although I admire Coaches and Managers who remain for many years in one calling, I need variety in order to stimulate me……

Manurewa players celebrate their Cup Final victory.