Chatham Cup flashback: When the final was controversially staged in Gisborne

Forty years ago, football’s national body made the controversial decision to take the Chatham Cup final to Gisborne.

The 1983 final, between Gisborne City and Mount Wellington, was widely expected to be staged at Mount’s Bill McKInlay Park or at the then-national home of the game, Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium.

The NZ Football Association’s statement announcing the move to Gisborne put it simply, saying: “it’s for the good of the game.”

The match, at Gisborne’s Childers Road, was a classic, with the sides tied 2-2 after extra time.

The result triggered a replay, held two days later at Mount’s Bill McKinlay Park where the home side won 2-0.

The debate over the venue prompted long-time football writer Vic Deverill to state the case for taking the showcase game to the regions. He wrote the following story published in the cup final programme:

‘It’s been a long time coming’

By Vic Deverill

Secretary, NZ Soccer Writers’ Association

The decision of the Promotions sub-committee of the NZ Football Association to hold the Adidas Chatham Cup final in Gisborne has, predictably, met with criticism from certain areas.

Yet, today’s match will provide the biggest soccer happening ever in Gisborne.

Could that be said of Auckland had the final been held there?

There is no better way to present a view than with a solid support of facts, and in this case they irrefutably endorse the
choice of Childers Road as the venue.

Childers Road regularly drew crowds of 3,000 to National League games, such as this fixture between Gisborne City and Christchurch United. Photo credit: Tairawhiti Museum, Te Whare Taonga O Te Tairawhiti.

Fact one

Having the final at Childers Road will do far more for soccer in Gisborne than it would for soccer in Auckland had the final been held at Bill McKinlay Park or Mount Smart Stadium.

Fact two

Despite what you may have heard Television New Zealand would not have provided coverage of the final had it been held in Auckland (or elsewhere for that matter).

Fact three

The Auckland public would not have been drawn to the final in any great numbers. No cup final over the past seven years, including 1979 when Hanimex and Mount Wellington met in Auckland, has attracted an attendance in excess of 3000. Childers Road can confidently expect that number in the toilets at half-time.

Fact four

For a team to play a final on opponents’ regular ground is nothing new. This year will be the ninth occasion it has happened since the final stages of the cup competition became an open draw in 1970. Before then, the north island finalist and the south island finalist traditionally met at the Basin Reserve.

  • 1970 — Blockhouse Bay travelled to play Western Suburbs in Wellington.
  • 1972 — After a 4-4 draw at the Basin, 1-1 result at English Park Christchurch United beat Mt Wellington at Newmarket Park.
  • 1974 — Wellington Diamond United played Christchurch United at QEII Stadium.
  • 1975 — Christchurch Utd met Blockhouse Bay at Newmarket Park.
  • 1976 — Eastern Suburbs went down to Christchurch Utd at QEII Stadium.
  • 1977 — Nelson United toppled Mt Wellington at Newmarket Park and in 1978 was on the wrong end of a similar scoreline at home to Manurewa.
  • 1982 — The Mount emerged victorious against National Mutual Miramar at the Basin Reserve.

Fact five

Of significant interest is that on six out of eight occasions when a finalist has travelled to play on its opponents’ regular ground, the visiting team has won the cup.

History then is stacked in Mount Wellington’s favour today.

Fact six

History also shows that The Mount has little cause for complaint when one reviews its cup record over the past seven years. Reaching six finals in that time is an outstanding achievement.

But it is necessary to assimilate that record with what is commonly referred to as the “luck of the draw”.

In reaching those six finals — 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981,1982, 1983 — The Mount has played 28 cup-ties. Of those 28, no less than 24 have been played in Auckland.

The four away ties have been in Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch and Napier.

In 1979, 1981, and 1983, The Mount reached the final without having to leave Auckland. In one spell, 15 consecutive cup matches (including two finals) were played in Auckland (1977-1980).

In light of all that, I doubt that anyone connected with Mount Wellington could seriously complain about having to travel away particularly when it is remembered that Kevin Fallon was coach of the Nelson United team that had to travel to Newmarket Park to play The Mount in the 1977 final.

How time dims the memory.

By comparison with The Mount’s record, Gisborne City in the same spell (1977-1983) has played 18 cup ties of which ten have taken them out of Gisborne.

Rather than complain about the final being scheduled for Childers Road surely the only justified complaint is that Gisborne, an area that has done so much for New Zealand soccer over the years, should have had to wait so long.

Match programme


Chatham Cup Final

Game played on Sunday September 18, 1983

Childers Road, Gisborne

Gisborne City 2 (Colin Walker 21′, 64′)
Mt Wellington 2 (Fred de Jong 14′, Keith Nelson 88′)
*After extra time


Arthur Edwards (Canterbury)

Gisborne City

Dan Finlayson, Ross Mackay, Kevin Fallon (Martin Kirsopp 90′), John Gillies, James Margaritis, Grant Turner, Sean Byrne, Martin Ryan, Paul Rosser (Richard Mulligan 105′), Colin Walker, Ken Cresswell.

Mt Wellington

Bob Wilshire, John Leijh, Tony Sibley, John Price, Ron Armstrong, Alex Metzger (Eddie Gavigan 73′),
Glen Adam (Tony Scheirlinck 80′), Nigel Debenham, Keith Nelson, Fred de Jong, Andy Willock.

Chatham Cup Final Replay

Game played on Tuesday September 20, 1983

Bill McKinlay Park, Mt Wellington

Mt Wellington 2 (John Price 29′ pen, Keith Nelson 88′)
Gisborne City 0


Arthur Edwards (Canterbury)

Mt Wellington

Bob Wilshire, John Leijh, Tony Sibley, John Price, Ron Armstrong, Eddie Gavigan (Alex Metzger), Glen Adam, Nigel Debenham, Keith Nelson, Fred de Jong, Andy Willock.

Gisborne City

Dan Finlayson; Ross Mackay, Kevin Fallon, John Gillies, James Margaritis, Grant Turner, Martin Ryan, Ken Cresswell, Paul Rosser, Jim Doherty (Richard Mulligan), Colin Walker.

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