National League A-Z : The Newbies Part 1 - Eastern Suburbs

When I started this blog I started a series of profiles of NZ National League teams, however losing a laptop with the schoolboy error of not backing the files up means I have only done a couple. (See Auckland City (1972)Blockhouse Bay, & CavershamBut now with the announcement that there will be 3 new teams in the ASB Premiership next season (Eastern Suburbs, Hamilton Wanderers & Tasman United) I thought I'd re-launch this series with a profile of these teams. So the first of the newbies is actually an original (member of the National League that is)...Eastern Suburbs.

Founded       1934 by a merger of Glen Innes (1930) & Tamaki United (1924)
Colours         White \ Yellow
Ground          Madills Farm
Honours        National League  1971
                           Runners Up       1970
                      Chatham Cup        1951,53,65,68,69,2015 (6)
                          Runners Up        1955,76,2006 (3)
                     Northern League   1965, 66, 2015 (3)
                           Division 1            2011
                           Division 2            2003
                           Division 3            1997
                     Auckland Div 1      1948,50,51,52,53,57,62 (7) 
Record Win  10-0 v Manuakau City, Chatham Cup R4, 2004
                               v Kerikeri, Chatham Cup R5, 2004
Record Loss  0-9 v Birkenhead United, Northern League Division 1, 1989
(Thanks to the Ultimate NZ Soccer Website for the record win-loss details)


As Auckland's Eastern Suburbs grew in the early 20th century, so did the number of football clubs. Tamaki United had been formed in 1924 and while never playing in the top level of Auckland football were still a large club with between 5-7 teams competing each year. Glen Innes were a smaller club formed in 1930, starting in division 3 and winning 2 promotions to achieve division 1 status in 1932. 

On 12th March 1934 a joint meeting of the clubs was held at the Peerless Theater in St Helier's Bay and the Auckland Star reported that “The proposal to amalgamate was enthusiastically carried, and it was agreed to adopt the name Eastern Suburbs”.  

The new club was expected to have a playing strength of 120 and agreed to apply for permission to play in White shirts (Tamaki United colours) with a Chocolate & Gold (Glen Innes Colours) badge.


1966 Team of the year (from 1967 NZ Soccer Annual)
It wasn't until after the war in 1948 that the club first tasted success, winning Auckland Division 1. This was the start of Eastern Suburbs establishing themselves as one of the leading clubs in the country. In the 22 years between the first success in 1948 and the start of the National League in 1970 the club won 14 Trophies, being Auckland Champions 7 times, Northern League Champions twice and Chatham Cup winners 5 times. They were runners up in the inaugural Rothman's $1000 Cup, a cup played between the winners of the major associations, and also named team of the year for 1966 by the New Zealand Soccer Annual.

So when the National League was formed in 1970 it was no surprise that Eastern Suburbs were included in it. In the first season they almost won it, with an identical record to champions Blockhouse Bay they lost out on goal average. The NZ Soccer Annual attributing it to the “...casual manner in which they neglected goalscoring...” . They weren't so casual in 1971 scoring 51 goals and winning the League by 3 points from near neighbours Mt Wellington.

Photo by Dave Baker from NZ Soccer Annual 1972

This was to be their pinnacle, the following years saw them competitive but becoming a mid-table team, until they suffered relegation in 1979. In the Northern League they found themselves in the 2nd tier (called Division 1) for most of the 80's and then reaching a nadir of Division 3 twice during the 90's. A recovery started in 1997 when they won Division 3 and went on to secure 3 promotions in 3 years and by 2000 the club was in the Northern League Premier division. 

East Auckland 

In 2003 the club joined with Ellerslie, University-Mount Wellington, Fencibles & Mangere United to form East Auckland for competing in the National League. East Auckland were successful finishing 2nd to Miramar Rangers, but despite this and being nominated for the NZF club of the Year award their bid for the newly created NZFC franchise based league was not accepted.

Since 2009 the club has bounced between the premier and division 1, winning promotion back to the Premier division for the 2015 season. This season saw the club win double of the Northern League and the Chatham Cup and it was topped of by successfully securing one of two new licenses in the ASB Premiership (National League)

Off the field the club has built itself up to supporting 2300 players (Male & Female), employing 10 full time coaching and administrative staff and has an annual turnover of $1.2 million. A good base that will hopefully lead to large support in the ASB Premiership

Notable players and coaches

24 players have been capped by New Zealand while playing for Eastern Suburbs of these 18 made A International appearances. 
These include
Warren Fleet            1972-77          26 Appearances (13 A Internationals)
John Legg                1967-75          21 (10)
Tim Cooper              1951-55          19 (5)
John Wrathall
Praven Jeram          1971-78          18 (7)
Ray Mears               1967-69          16 (10)
John Staines            1968-73          14 (13)
Sam Malcolmson     1979               14 (5)
Bill de Graaf             1968-71          13 (7)
Malcolm Bland         1971-73          12 (10)
Ken Fleet                 1951-55          12 (6)
Don Kendrick           1952               10 (5)
Colin Latimour          1973                 8 (7)
Tom McNab              1967-69            8 (5)
Alf Stamp                  1978-79           8 (4)
Theo Van den Broek 1958                7 (5)
Paul Rennell             1967-68           6 (4)
Reg King                   1954-55           6 (1)
John Wrathall            1959-61           5 (2)
Gary Jenkins             1979                3 (-)
John Middleton          1961                2 (-)
Ron Armstrong          1978                2 (-)
Earle Thomas            1978                2 (-)
Peter Eliadis              1971                1 (-)
Clint Gosling              1978                1 (-)

Ron Stone of Glen Innes made 10 appearances (2 A Internationals) for NZ in 1933


Two of the most significant coaches in Eastern Suburbs history were Ken Armstrong & Tom McNab.
Ken Armstrong in his Chelsea days

Ken Armstrong was a league winner with Chelsea in 1954-55 and made 1 appearance for England before immigrating to NZ where he played and coached at Eastern Union (Gisborne), North Shore United, Eastern Suburbs, Mt Wellington & the New Zealand National team . He had 2 spells at Eastern Suburbs winning the Northern League in 1965 & 66 before a less successful spell from 1978-79 where Suburbs suffered relegation from the National League.

Tom McNab was from Glasgow and played for Partick Thistle, Wrexham, Barrow & East
Tom McNab celebrating National League in 1971
(Photo Dave Baker)
Stirlingshire before moving to NZ in 1964 where he played for Eastern Suburbs. He moved into the managerial role for Suburbs in 1968 and stayed until 1973 in which time they won the Chatham Cup twice (68 & 69) and the National League (1971).