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Writers note: A little while ago Cordwainer Bull noted that anyone with an interest in football in New Zealand would inevitably be conscripted into voluntary roles with clubs. There’s a reason he’s one of the most insightful writers about the game we’ve got, and it sprang to mind as we signed the incorporation forms the other week. 

Centre Park

Centre Park, the new home for Manukau United.

There are more football clubs in South Auckland than in any other part of the Auckland Football Federation. In fact, with sixteen clubs, there are more than Central Auckland, East Auckland & West Auckland combined.

At first glance, that’s great. South Auckland has long been a strong sporting heartland for the region, and football is a part of that. Yet, all is not necessarily well in the area. The sheer number of clubs in the area compete for resources, membership and youth catchment – often clubs are located less than a kilometre apart from each other.

Last season saw Manukau City promoted to the Premier Division, Manurewa relegated to Division 1, Franklin United relegated to Division 2 and Onehunga-Mangere and Papatoetoe relegated from Division 2. That left just four clubs from the region playing in the Lotto NRFL Leagues; Manukau City, Manurewa, Franklin United and Mangere United.

That means for youth and junior players in the area, their only path to Premier Division football lies with Manukau City. That said, last year that path led to Manurewa. More likely though, players will look towards the clubs in AFF Central, East and West Auckland or those in the Northern Football Federation.

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Probably the best venue in South Auckland.

South Auckland needs a stable presence in the top division to provide a route to top level senior mens and womens competition for the players developed at clubs here.

With Manukau City’s promotion to the Premier Division this year, a partnership with Mangere United was proposed. The potential combination of the two clubs, sited just 800 metres apart, has been discussed for some time.

However both parties in negotiation were intent on creating a new club as a partnership between Manukau City and Mangere United, under the name Manukau United Football Club.

With the approval of the memberships of both clubs and their respective committees, the negotiations to partner took place during the off season. We were supported by Nic Downes and Steven Upfold of AFF and drew upon the wisdom and experience of Noel Robinson throughout the process. Our thanks to them all.

The committee at Manukau United F.C, comprised of an equal number of Mangere United and Manukau City commitee members, would like to thank the members and committees of Manukau City AFC and Mangere United F.C for their support so far, and we look forward to working with you in the coming season.

The new club will base itself at Centre Park for home games, but Walter Massey will be retained as a venue for the Manukau City AFC Womens team (playing in the Conference in 2018), social teams as well as being a training venue for Manukau United F.C

This does mean that the number of NRFL clubs from South Auckland was initially going to be reduced by 1, but the replacement mechanism for the NRFL Division Two spot vacated by Mangere United means for the second year in a row there’ll be a playoff between Onehunga-Mangere and Beachlands Maraetai.

For 2018, Manukau United will field Mens, Mens Reserves and an U19 team in the Lotto NRFL Premier Division. This will take the place of Manukau City AFC, and Mangere United will relinquish its place in the NRFL Division Two.

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Hone Fowler, Chairman of MCAFC, Noel Robinson and Suria Sharma, President of Mangere United.

At the same time, both partner clubs will continue to run womens, youth and social football sides under their original club names for 2018. Members of both clubs will have their say in any future changes to the partnership as well.

The aim is to pool the resources and knowledge of both clubs to ensure South Auckland has a Premier Division presence, thereby creating a route from 5th grade football through to Senior Mens and Womens football.

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MCAFC Womens Captain Chelsea Strickland and T.J Hetherington sign on.

With AFF approval granted, Manukau United will be making a series of announcements over the next few weeks about our head coach, club badge and dates regarding trials and pre-season.

Manukau United can be found on Twitter @ManukauUtdFC and over on Facebook at Manukau United F.C.

See you out there in 2018.

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Premier

John Palethorpe

John Palethorpe lives in South Auckland which is very far away from Fratton Park and Champion Hill. Having been told there was no football in New Zealand, he was delighted to find that there is.

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