He’s arguably one of New Zealand’s highest-profile football fans, known for his unstinting efforts to generate fun and excitement on the sidelines.
He’s ‘Bucketman’ — or Mike Vessey, as he’s known to all at Central United and sister club Auckland City.
Main photo: Mike Vessey in a familiar role at Kiwitea Street. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
Now, Vessey is a Life Member at Central United, one of five to be granted the honour for the club’s 60th Jubilee season.
He joined Damir Unkovich, Dinko Jelicich, Bob Vicelich and Ian Uhlmann as part of a group honoured for their services to the club, having Life Membership conferred on them at Central United’s recent Annual General Meeting.
Announcing the Life Memberships, the club explained the contribution of each:
Mike ‘The Bucketman’ Vessy
“Mike ‘The Bucketman’ Vessey is an iconic figure across the New Zealand football landscape and is an institution here at Kiwitea Street.
“A local lad hailing from Parry Street, just a stone’s throw from the club, he was good enough to make ten first team appearances for Central. But it’s in his role as number one supporter, cheerleader and unconditional advocate for everything that is “Yellow Yellow!” that Mike is most famous and admired for.”
“Damir, a drain layer by trade, was one of the club’s earliest members and was a significant contributor to the construction of our clubrooms and the extension of our Kiwitea Street playing field on two separate occasions.
“The second extension especially was a serious earthworks project that involved realigning the public sewer via two new manholes, extra field drainage and creating the new kerbside car parking adjacent to our clubrooms.
“Damir’s expertise and assistance with these works was invaluable and is highly appreciated.
“Dinko Jelicich affectionately known to all at the club as ‘Smrt’ was another of the club’s earliest members. He officially holds the record for being the club’s first-ever goalscorer back in 1962 and is fondly remembered and much loved as a long-time kit man/masseur for many of the club’s highly successful first team sides of the 1980s and 1990s.”
“Bob Vicelich, the consummate bartender, has run the bar at Kiwitea Street alongside his great mate and fellow Life Member Frankie Vujnovich for over two decades now.
“As steady and reliable as the old Massey Ferguson tractor, Bob’s dedication, commitment and loyalty to the club is unswerving.
“Ian Uhlmann joined the club in the 1990s when son Greg started playing for Central and has been an ever-present figure since.
“Team manager for the club’s first-ever Chatham Cup title in 1997, he continued to serve in that role for a number of years as Central began to establish itself as one of New Zealand’s premier clubs winning multiple cup and national league titles.
“A long-time club captain Ian is still contributing as a passionate member of the executive committee.”
Meanwhile, club president Mate Tolj was re-elected for a further term and was enthusiastic in his praise of the new Life Members.
“All of these boys have made a fantastic contribution to Central United over many years and in very different ways.
“That is the beauty of a football club. You have different kinds of people who bring different strengths and skills to the table.
“We have been very fortunate to have benefited from the voluntary contributions these five gentlemen have made over the past sixty years.
“In this, our 60th Jubilee season, I am very proud and happy to see that their hard work has been acknowledged.”
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