A proud history for local football club 2 min readReading Time: < 1 minute
Onehunga Māngere United AFC was looking to celebrate its centenary in August, until lockdown returned and they had to postpone the event.
They had already won promotion to the Northern Region Football League’s First Division, and only needed four points from three games to also confirm the Second Division Championship. They intend to celebrate in style once the restrictions are eased.
Originally the Onehunga Methodist FC, the club played its first game in May 1921 against St Heliers. The connection with the church was taken very seriously. Members were required to attend church at least three times every five weeks if they wanted to be eligible to play for the club.
From 1924 to 1926, the club was renamed Onehunga Athletic FC, before becoming the Onehunga Soccer Club in 1927. Their original colours were blue and gold because many founding members were Auckland Grammar Old Boys, but in the 1950’s they switched to the current red and white strip.
From the mid-1920’s they were based at Waikaraka Park, which was still a farm at the time and sheep grazed on the pitches, which no doubt made the fields somewhat unpleasant to play on! A 1929 game against Tramways is believed to be the world’s first football game under lights. The lighting was provided by 40 mobile floodlights borrowed from speedway, many of which shorted out during a rain shower in the middle of the game
In 1939 Onehunga won its first Falcon Cup, then the pinnacle of Auckland football. But were unable to build on the success due to the war. During WWII, Waikaraka Park was used as a US Army base and did not reopen for sport until 1947. The club was able to rebuild quickly, because the former barracks were used as a hostel for immigrants from Europe, which provided the club with plenty of new recruits.
The 1950’s were the heyday of Onehunga Soccer, winning the Falcon Cup twice and in 1954 they defeated Western FC from Christchurch 1-0, to win the Chatham Cup Final.
It was in 1965, after encouragement from the council, that the club moved to its current home on Māngere Mountain and became Onehunga Māngere Utd. In the 1980’s the club received another boost when Softball was introduced as a summer sport.
Once restrictions are lifted, and a celebration can be safely held, you’ll be able to read all about it and see the photos in Onehunga Community News.