Friends of Football are pleased to announce a new date for their reunion for players and others who took part in games against a touring Manchester United squad in 1967.
The event was originally planned for June 2021 but was postponed due to COVID-related restrictions.
Instead, we’re holding the event on Wednesday July 27, 2022, at Auckland United’s magnificent clubrooms in Mt Roskill, Auckland.
Manchester United -— considered the best club team in the world at the time — played Auckland at Carlaw Park and New Zealand at Christchurch’s English Park in May 1967.
With players such as George Best, Denis Law and 1966 World Cup winners Bobby Charlton and Nobby Stiles, the New Zealand visit was part of United’s world tour.
Friends of Football will host a gathering for those who faced Manchester United so they can share their memories with our members and guests.
Doors open at 6pm and the formal part of the evening will commence at 7pm. A cash bar will operate.
There is no admission for members of Friends of Football but they need to register to attend by emailing [email protected].
Admission is restricted to our members and invited guests.
Spreading the word
We have tried to contact all living members of the Auckland and New Zealand teams who took part in the matches.
Surviving team members who have not heard from us can contact us at [email protected]. We would love to see you at the function.
Arthur Stroud, Billy Hunter, Gary Lake (sub David Salt), John Houghton, Tom McNab, Paul Rennell, John Legg, Ivan Kristensen, Mark Burgess, George Lamont, Ray Mears. Unused subs: Neville Siebert, Colin Latimour, George York, Tom McKinlay, A.Grimes.
Inset photo: Paul Rennell in pursuit of a 21-year-old George Best.
New Zealand team
Arthur Stroud, Billy Hunter, Gary Lake, Tony Gowans, Tom McNab, Grahame Bilby, Clive Rennie, George Lamont, George York, Mark Burgess, John Legg. Unused subs: Dave Wallace, Owen Nuttridge, Brian Smith and Ken Ironside.
The games were easy wins for Manchester United who beat Auckland 8-1 before demolishing New Zealand 11-0.
But they were milestone events for a sport that had struggled for public attention in a rugby-crazed country.
The NZ Football Association had initially rejected the notion of accepting Manchester United’s offer to tour because they feared they would not recoup the $3000 match fees.
However more than 25,000 packed into Auckland’s Carlaw Park for the first game and despite appalling weather, about 10,000 turned up at English Park for the midweek Christchurch match under floodlights.
The matches helped to ignite an enthusiasm for football that led to the creation of the first national league only three years later.
Manchester United’s team
The tourists were at full strength, bringing all their star players to New Zealand. United arrived as English champions and went on to win the European Cup the following season.
Here’s the line-up in the Auckland match programme:
Protecting our sport’s heritage
Friends of Football’s aims include protecting the heritage of our sport in New Zealand.
This plays an important part in helping convey the story of our sport’s past to current and future generations of New Zealand footballers.