Christchurch United celebrates history in style

Dozens of former New Zealand and Christchurch football stars gathered over the weekend to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Christchurch United. During a busy weekend of social events, former players, coaches and supporters rekindled friendships and met up with the new generation of Christchurch United players and staff. A few dozen of the old guard gathered at O’Sheas Public House on Friday night, where they were hosted by former goalkeeper Alan Stroud, to share stories and to get a sneak preview of the new club film, Boys in Blue.

The weekend created significant media interest with TVNZ’s One News broadcasting a news item in their sports bulletin as well as a live cross to Alan’s bar. The main event was Saturday’s gala anniversary dinner, where the official history of the club, 50 Years United, was launched under the watchful eye of national coach Danny Hay alongside the Under 20 and Under 17 national coach.

During the night, author Coen Lammers interviewed several of United’s greatest players, including World Cup stars Bobby Almond and Ben Sigmund, club top goalscorer Keith Braithwaite, Johan Verweij, Glen Mitchell, the first UK recruit Ian Park, while 1970s stars Brian Hardman and Phil Dando zoomed in from the UK and Australia respectively. About 150 people attended on Saturday, including the family of club icon Steve Sumner and the families of former captain Ken France and legendary coach Terry Conley. The audience enjoyed the banter between the players and hearing some old and some new stories from the golden eras.

Most of the squad of the successful 1987-1991 teams were in attendance and created plenty of noise and excitement in the back of the room.
Aside from discovering the past, the audience also learned a lot about the new generation of Christchurch United, as President Slava Meyn, First Team coach Danny Halligan and Head of Coaching Michiel Buursma explained their plans for future of the club.
The night was organised by club chairman Malcolm Hinman and board member Les Black who put in hundreds of hours of work to create the amazing event, supported by the events team of Kate Blundell of Collective Concepts.

The event was live streamed on Youtube and if you want to listen to the speeches, please check out here.

Anyone interested in purchasing the book 50 Years United, can make an order here.
The 400 page book includes nearly 300 photos and all the statistics of the club over the past 50 years, and at $57.50 is an absolute bargain. The weekend was concluded with the club prizegiving, followed by the first official viewing of the documentary Boys in Blue at the Yaldhurst Tavern. Filmmaker Tony Simpson interviewed dozens of Christchurch United players over the past year and has dug out invaluable footage of United’s biggest games and United players shining on the World Cup stage.