Flashback: How New Zealand beat China in a three-match series in 1975

posted in: All Whites, Heritage, News

The New Zealand squad that faced China in a three-match series in 1975 contained only five players born in this country — an indication of how far the game has developed since.

The series, played in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, saw New Zealand come out on top with two wins and a draw.

At the time, the NZ Football Association were trying to tidy up eligibility for the national side and had insisted selection should be restricted to New Zealand-born players, or those with New Zealand citizenship.

That decision caught national coach Barrie Truman on the hop, as many players had been slow to seek citizenship, and he was forced to leave out three players he wanted to include, in Blockhouse Bay’s Ian Ormond, Mt Wellington skipper John Houghton and Chrischurch United’s Roy Drinkwater.

The five locally-born players selected were Graham Griffiths (Christchurch United), Graham Storer (New Brighton), Warren Fleet (Eastern Suburbs), and the Mt Wellington pair of Dave Taylor and Earle Thomas.

Thomas was named captain for the series.

Main photo: Earle Thomas (centre) gets New Zealand off to a good start with an early goal in the third game in which he scored a double to help his side win 2-0 at QEII Stadium.

‘They are hard and they know all the tricks’

A debut was given to North Shore United’s Adrian Elrick, putting him on equal footing with wife Nadene, who had just been picked to play for the national women’s team, to play at a tournament in Asia.

Barrie Truman. Photo: Dave Barker (NZ Truth/DB Soccer Annual).

Other new caps were Kevin Mulgrew (Christchurch United), Storer, Kevin Weymouth (North Shore United) and Keith Barton (Stop Out).

Up front, the Taylor-Thomas partnership proved deadly, with them scoring all six of New Zealand’s goals during the series.

The touring China team was young — average age 23 — and their coaching staff included an acupuncturist and a head coach, Chou Hsing, who chain-smoked during the games.

At the end of the series, coach Truman ruminated on the nature of the tour, used as a goodwill mission by a China keen to break down barriers with other nations,

“They are extremely friendly,” he told NZ Truth.

“They profusely apologise for everything they do unfairly. They bow to the player, help him up and dust him down. But they are hard, and they know all the tricks. Each one wants to win; let there be no mistake about that.”

As for the NZFA, the tour was seen as a win/loss affair.

The win was convincing the national broadcaster to televise all three games, something of a breakthrough at the time.

The loss was that the broadcasts diluted the attendances, especially in Wellington where it rained, and financially, the tour just broke even.

Here are the details of the tour …


Game 1

Game played on Sunday July 20, 1975
Newmarket Park, Auckland
Attendance: 5,000

New Zealand 2 (Earle Thomas 49′, Dave Taylor 88′)
China PR 1 (Tsao Kai-Chun 74′ pen)

New Zealand 

Praven Jeram, Brian Armstrong, Warren Fleet, Graham Griffiths, Praven Jeram, Kevin Mulgrew (Adrian Elrick), Ian Park, Tony Sibley, Graham Storer (Brian Turner), Dave Taylor, Earle Thomas (captain), Kevin Weymouth (John Legg).

Coach: Barrie Truman.


Li Fu-Sheng; Chang Chun-Sheng (Shen Yin-Chang), Wang Liu-Yi, Yang An-Li, Chen, Yi-Ming, Liu Chih-Tsai, Chang Chung, Pei En-Tsai (Chang Tsung-Pen), Wang Hsiao-Ho, Tsao Kai-Chun [c], Hsu Tseng-Fu (Li Chung-Tsai).

Coach: Chou Hsing.

Referee: Andy Blackburn (Auckland). Assistants: Les Coffman, Mansell Heath.

Game 2

Game played on Wednesday July 23, 1975
Basin Reserve, Wellington
Attendance: 2,000

New Zealand 2 (Earle Thomas 71′, Dave Taylor 78′)
China PR 2 (own goal 23′, Li Chung-tsai 84′)

New Zealand

Praven Jeram, Keith Barton, Brian Armstrong, Graham Griffith, Ian Park, Brian Turner, Warren Fleet, John Legg (Graham Storer), Kevin Mulgrew, Dave Taylor, Earle Thomas (captain).

Coach: Barrie Truman.


Lo Huai-Yuan, Shen Yin-Chang, Wang Liu-Yi, Yang An-Li, Chen Yi-Ming (Chang Tsung-Pen), Liu Chih-Tsai, Chang Chun, Wang Chung-Chun, Wang Hsiao-Ho, Tsao Kai-Chun [c], Li Chung-Tsai (Ching Kuang-fu).

Coach: Chou Hsing.

Referee: Tom Delahunty (Wellington). Assistants: Ron Harries, John Perkins.

Game 3

Game played on Saturday July 26, 1975
Queen Elizabeth II Stadium, Christchurch
Attendance: 6,000

New Zealand 2 (Earle Thomas 10′ 19′)
China PR 0

New Zealand

Owen Nuttridge, Tony Sibley, Graham Griffiths, Adrian Elrick, Ian Park, Brian Turner, John Legg, Graham Storer, Kevin Mulgrew, Dave Taylor, Earle Thomas (captain), Kevin Weymouth.

Coach: Barrie Truman.


Lo Huai-Yuan, Shen Yin-Chang, Wang Liu-Yi (Ching Kuang-Fu (Chang Tsun-Pen), Yang An-Li, Chen Yi-Ming, Liu Chih-Tsai, Chang Chun, Wang Chung-Chun, Wang Hsaio-Ho, Tsao Kai-chun [c], Li Chung-tsai.

Coach: Chou Hsing.

Referee: R. McDonald (Otago)

Read the match programmes

Auckland game

Click on this image to open the full programme in digital format.

Christchurch game

Click on this image to open the full programme in digital format.

Unfortunately, the match programme for Wellington is not available.

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