Special feature: The story of the first-ever Chatham Cup final 100 years ago

By Max Fletcher

The first Chatham Cup final was poorly attended, played on a Monday afternoon and at a Wellington ground best known for hosting All Black rugby tests.

When the game ended, and joyful spectators carried members of the winning team shoulder-high from the pitch, football’s longest-running and most treasured cup competition was underway.

It was October 1923, and the first cup winners, Seacliff, took the Chatham Cup by rail back to Dunedin for display at the hospital whose grounds they utilised as their home pitch.

Seacliff had beaten Wellington YMCA 4-0 at Athletic Park, the first team to lift the trophy modelled on England’s FA Cup.

HMS Chatham.

On December 19, 1922, Captain C.B. Prickett presented the Chatham Cup to the New Zealand Football Association on behalf of the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Chatham.

READ MORE: How the Royal Navy gifted the Chatham Cup to New Zealand >>>>

Few clubs entered the first Chatham Cup in 1923, and the structure of the competition was vastly different to its modern format.

Qualifying was organised on a geographical basis, and until 1970, the final was between teams that had won North Island and South Island finals.

On their way to the first final, Wellington YMCA had faced a tough road, defeating local rivals Waterside, Hospital Porirua, Nelson Wanderers and Dawbers Motor Depot from Palmerston North.

In the North Island play-off, they beat Huntly, a team filled with Scottish miners.

Seacliff had a far easier route to the final, beating the only other South Island side to enter, Oamaru Rangers, who they beat 7-0.

1923 Chatham Cup winners Seacliff. Back row (from left): George Anderson, Hugh McKechie, Charlie Rivers, Malcolm MacDougall. Middle row: Bill Rogers, Bill Hooper, Jock Anderson, Tommy Burns, Bill Murray. Front, Reg Baxter, Wattie Hanlin.

For Seacliff, 1923 was as good as it would get for the club’s Chatham Cup record.

The club reached the 1924 and 1925 Chatham Cup finals but lost both, losing the 1925 game to Wellington YMCA.

The Southerners would finish runners-up again in 1929.

The 1923 final helped promote individual players who had already represented New Zealand in the country’s first international, or who would go on to play for the national side.

Wellington YMCA’s George Campbell served as the first captain of New Zealand’s national team.

On June 17, 1922, Campbell played in New Zealand’s first international match against Australia, winning 3-1. Campbell represented his country on 20 occasions.

In his final two games against Australia in June 1923, a 3-2 victory and a 4-1 victory, he scored a hat-trick in each match.

READ MORE: The ‘forgotten series’ between New Zealand and Australia >>>>

READ MORE: Long-lost ANZAC Soccer Ashes trophy found in family garage clean-out >>>>

Five members of the Seacliff team went on to represent New Zealand.

Brothers George and Jock Anderson, Seacliff’s full backs, winger Malcolm MacDougall, midfielder Bill Murray and forward Bill Hooper played against the touring Chinese Universities side in 1924, or against Canada in 1927.

Hooper, who scored twice in the first Chatham Cup final, represented New Zealand in two of the four international games against the visiting Canadians.

On July 9, 1927, Hooper scored in a 1-0 victory, and on July 23, he found the net in a 1-4 defeat.

Hooper was the first player to score in two different Chatham Cup finals, scoring twice in Seacliff’s loss to Wellington YMCA in the 1925 final.


1923 Chatham Cup final
Athletic Park, Wellington

Game played on Monday October 1, 1923

Seacliff 4 (Bill Hooper 2, Reg Baxter, Malcolm Macdougall)
Wellington YMCA 0



Charlie Rivers, George Anderson, Jock Anderson, Bill Rogers, Hugh McKechnie, Bill Murray, Malcolm Macdougall, Reg Baxter, Bill Hooper, Tommy Burns, Wattie Hanlin.

Wellington YMCA

Arthur Tarrant, W. Pearson, Les McGirr, George Wotherspoon, Bill Rarity, Charlie Trott, Les Smith, Edgar Phillips, George Campbell, Harry Hindmarsh, Charles Ballard.


J.A. Leddy

Max Fletcher

Max Fletcher is a football-loving volunteer writer for Friends of Football, who lives in the Waikato.

Chatham Cup’s 100th year

To celebrate the birthday of football’s oldest cup competition, Friends of Football have been publishing special features about the cup and its past. Here’s a selection …

The greatest final ever?

Two replays needed in 1972

The unlikely underdogs

An improbable campaign in 2003

A happy birthday

The Royal Navy’s role in the cup

A gruelling schedule

The team that refused to quit in 2023

Final in Gisborne

Controversy and a classic final in 1983

Away from Wellington

How the final moved from the capital

All the past winners — Chatham Cup

1923 – Seacliff (Otago)
1924 – Harbour Board (Auckland)
1925 – YMCA (Wellington)
1926 – Sunnyside (Christchurch)
1927 – Ponsonby
1928 – Petone
1929 – Tramways (Auckland)
1930 – Petone
1931 – Tramurewa (Auckland)
1932 – Wellington Marist
1933 – Ponsonby
1934 – Thistle (Auckland)
1935 – Hospital (Wellington)
1936 – Western (Christchurch)
1937 – competition cancelled due to lack of entries
1938 – Waterside (Wellington)
1939 – Waterside (Wellington)
1940 – Waterside (Wellington)
1941-44 – no competition due to World War II
1945 – Western (Christchurch)
1946 – Wellington Marist
1947 – Waterside (Wellington)
1948 – Christchurch Technical Old Boys
1949 – Petone
1950 – Eden (Auckland)
1951 – Eastern Suburbs (Auckland)
1952 – North Shore United and Western (Christchurch) (shared)
1953 – Eastern Suburbs (Auckland)
1954 – Onehunga
1955 – Western (Christchurch)
1956 – Stop Out (Wellington)
1957 – Seatoun
1958 – Seatoun

1959 – Northern (Dunedin)
1960 – North Shore United
1961 – Northern (Dunedin)
1962 – Hamilton Technical Old Boys
1963 – North Shore United
1964 – Mount Roskill
1965 – Eastern Suburbs (Auckland)
1966 – Miramar Rangers
1967 – North Shore United
1968 – Eastern Suburbs (Auckland)
1969 – Eastern Suburbs (Auckland)
1970 – Blockhouse Bay
1971 – Western Suburbs (Wellington)
1972 – Christchurch United
1973 – Mount Wellington (Auckland)
1974 – Christchurch United
1975 – Christchurch United
1976 – Christchurch United
1977 – Nelson United
1978 – Manurewa
1979 – North Shore United
1980 – Mount Wellington (Auckland)
1981 – Dunedin City
1982 – Mount Wellington (Auckland)
1983 – Mount Wellington (Auckland)
1984 – Manurewa
1985 – Napier City Rovers
1986 – North Shore United
1987 – Gisborne City
1988 – Waikato United
1989 – Christchurch United
1990 – Mount Wellington (Auckland)
1991 – Christchurch United
1992 – Miramar Rangers
1993 – Napier City Rovers
1994 – Waitakere City

1995 – Waitakere City
1996 – Waitakere City
1997 – Central United (Auckland)
1998 – Central United (Auckland)
1999 – Dunedin Technical
2000 – Napier City Rovers
2001 – University-Mount Wellington (Auckland)
2002 – Napier City Rovers
2003 – University-Mount Wellington (Auckland)
2004 – Miramar Rangers
2005 – Central United (Auckland)
2006 – Western Suburbs (Wellington)
2007 – Central United (Auckland)
2008 – East Coast Bays
2009 – Wellington Olympic
2010 – Miramar Rangers
2011 – Wairarapa United (Masterton)
2012 – Central United
2013 – Cashmere Technical (Christchurch)
2014 – Cashmere Technical (Christchurch)
2015 – Eastern Suburbs (Auckland)
2016 – Birkenhead United (Auckland)
2017 – Onehunga Sports (Auckland)
2018 – Birkenhead United (Auckland)
2019 – Napier City Rovers
2020 – competition cancelled due COVID-19
2021 – Cashmere Technical (Christchurch)
2022 – Auckland City

More football stories