New Zealand Football will celebrate its 125th Anniversary this evening and Chief Executive Officer Andy Martin says the occasion will provide the perfect opportunity to reflect on some milestone achievements while also looking towards a bright future.
“It’s a privilege to be in the position we’re in right now,” he says.
“I think 125 years is a great achievement for football, it’s helps us prove the worth of the sport because the longevity of it is important. People need to understand that football has been around here for a long time and has impacted a lot of lives,” he adds.
“A lot of people have got a great amount from football in this country and we want that to continue. We want to enhance and push that for another 125 years and make sure football is acknowledged for what it is – the best and biggest sport in the world.”
The 125th celebrations will take place at Auckland’s Heritage Hotel – whose Hobson Street building is likewise steeped in history – and is being staged with support from the New Zealand Football Foundation, independent supporters group Friends of Football and the New Zealand Football Media Association (NZFMA).
Representatives from each group will be in attendance tonight and will join a host of famous faces, including many All Whites and Football Ferns legends. Current players of both senior national teams will also be on hand with Anthony Hudson and his All Whites squad in town for the FIFA World Cup qualifying match against New Caledonia at QBE Stadium this Saturday.
Hudson, who is set to take charge of his team for the first time on home soil, is proud to be part of the occasion.
“For me, all I can say is that I’m just glad to be here and to be able to continue the process of trying to improve the team and football here,” he says. “It’s humbling to be a part of.”
A highlight of the night will be a countdown of New Zealand’s most memorable footballing moments, which will give those present the chance to reflect on former triumphs and the stories behind them. Martin says looking back on those achievements will provide some touching and heart-warming moments but says it is just as important to look ahead at what is to come.
“We’re going to speak about a lot of great events tonight but there’s many more that we haven’t been able to touch on. A lot of people have put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into football and I think anybody who has worked in the business will understand it’s not an easy job. All of the staff, management and players have a lot of challenges in being in this part of the world and trying to compete in a world sport. But people just get on with it and do a great job, which they’ve done for a number of years,” he says.
“There’s ups and downs and that’s always going to be the case but I think we should be very proud of how we’ve got to this point. We’ve had great players and great staff in the past and we still do now – that’s going to continue long beyond our time. What’s important for the current administration is to leave a legacy and make sure there is a handover of good intellectual property, good history and a good track record so that the next group of people can take it on and make it even stronger.”
The top moments in the history of New Zealand Football that will be reflected on at the 125th Anniversary celebrations are as follows:
1891 First meeting of the NZFA council held in the Colonial Mutual Assurance office in Wellington
1922 NZFA Council members go on board HMS Chatham to receive a silver trophy, the Chatham Cup
1923 New Zealand record an away series victory over Australia for the first time
1957 Former Chelsea player Ken Armstrong arrives and creates a huge legacy, going on to coach both the men’s and women’s national teams
1966 New Zealand Football becomes a founding member of the Oceania Football Confederation alongside Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Australia
1970 A National League is established, Eastern Suburbs’ John Wrathall scoring the first goal
1974 New Zealand competes in the Vietnam National Day tournament in Saigon while the Vietnam War is taking place
1975 Marilyn Marshall, also a New Zealand softball representative, scores the first goal for a New Zealand women’s team in an international, helping defeat Hong Kong 2-0. New Zealand went on to beat Malaysia, Australia and Thailand to be crowned Asian Women’s Cup champions
1982 Under coach John Adshead, New Zealand qualifies for the FIFA World Cup for the first ever time as the ‘All Whites’ unite the nation. Captain Steve Sumner scores first World Cup goal against Scotland
1999 The FIFA U-17 World Cup is held, it’s the first ever FIFA tournament to be hosted on these shores and brings New Zealand’s maiden World Cup win, 2-1 over Poland
2000 The seven football federations are established around the country, professionalising the administration and development of the sport
2008 New Zealand makes history by becoming the first nation to host the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup
2009 The All Whites qualify for a second FIFA World Cup, Rory Fallon’s header in the 1-0 win over Bahrain sparking scenes of jubilation not seen since 1982
2010 The All Whites go through the FIFA World Cup unbeaten, Winston Reid memorably equalising against Slovakia and Shane Smeltz putting New Zealand in front against Italy
2010 A Futsal National League is established after the small-sided game is incorporated into the NZF administration, exponential growth of the sport swiftly follows
2011 The award-winning Whole of Football plan is launched, providing a unified pathway for players, coaches, referees and administrators
2014 Auckland City make international headlines in upsetting highly-fancied rivals to finish third at the FIFA Club World Cup
2015 Unprecedented age-group success is experienced with New Zealand becoming one of only five countries to progress past the group stages of both the U-17 and U-20 FIFA World Cups – the others are football-mad nations Brazil, Germany, Nigeria and Mali
2015 Kiwi refereeing duo Anna-Marie Keighley and Sarah Jones take part in one of the biggest games in world football when they officiate in a semi-final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup
2015 New Zealand successfully hosts its third FIFA tournament, the FIFA U-20 World Cup becoming the biggest celebration of global football ever seen in this country
2016 Coach Tony Readings leads the Football Ferns to a highest ever world ranking of 16th, continuing a rapid rise for women’s football that features three consecutive appearances in the Olympic Games – including a quarter-final showing in 2012 – and a first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup point in a draw with Mexico in 2011
2016 – Onwards New Zealand Football celebrates 125th Anniversary and looks ahead to exciting future as football continues to develop and hold a significant place in the fabric of New Zealand society