Albany United Football Club is a flagship sports club of the Albany Community.
In 1977 Albany-Wairau Soccer Club was spawned by a group of people that were from Glenfield Rovers and decided that they would form their own club. The ‘defectors’ were Bert Ford and Len Snelling and along with a group of players, they soon recruited the likes of Eric Hodge and Dave Weir to assist them. A ‘home’ ground was secured at the Albany Domain. In that first season they only expected to have a couple of teams but ended up fielding 15 in total. The first team’s inaugural coach was Fred Ullness and they played in an open social grade. It wasnt until 1979 that the club qualified for what was then the Northern 4th division. Though this period can be summarised in a few paragraphs, the work that was put in by Ford and Snelling should not be underestimated. Fundraising, getting sponsors, negotiations with council, constitutional matters and gear all needed to be in place before the season started. In fact, Albany’s first strip was nothing more than an orange tee shirt with black shorts, and the ‘showers’ were the local stream that meandered past the grounds. The toilet block was built by Bert Ford in his spare time as was the infamous ‘Shed’. The shed has since been demolished but Bert’s toilets are still in existance. Were told the floodlights were installed ‘for a slab’ but nobody has been prepared to offer any more information on this matter!!
The first Albany-Wairau United team in 1977. The GENESIS Team was the one of two who started the Albany-Wairau club.
The team played U16s in the morning and then u18s in the afternoon every game day.
BACK ROW: Anthony Carle, Grant Reid, Len Snelling, Mark Snelling, Shane Feder, Graham Johns
FRONT ROW: Greg Forester, Trevor Pyle, Stephen Wilson, Gary Watson, Chris Thrasyvoulou
ABSENT: Ian Tinsley, David Blaymires, Stephen Hinton, John Bryant
Throughout the eighties Albany’s success at senior level was limited in a football catchment area dominated by East Coast Bays, Glenfield and Waitakere. Though the formation of the league is different to what it is now we never managed to be higher than 2nd division. There was one season, under coach Brian Lamb, that we lost only one game - the last game at that, which secured promotion, but relegation followed immediately. In fact, on the two occasions we gained promotion to the second division, both times we were immediately relegated. For most season the youths oldest grade playing under the club was no higher than the 14th grade. Despite all against the club, top players beingpoached by the neighbouring clubs, it conducted itself extraordinarily well. We have it on word that Albany was always regarded as a difficult place to visit
Albany United’s 1st Team in 1981. This team featured Jimmy Brown, Graham Reive and Stefan Billing
During the nineties the Clubs future was jeopardised due to the massive development programme at Albany, including the North Harbour Stadium complex. A new road was constructed through part of the grounds, which meant that Albany United could not stay at the Domain. There are differing views on what options were open to the club; it's said there was a missed opportunity to become part of the North Harbour Complex, while it's also said it was not an option due to the financial investment required. Infact directly from one of the committee members and patron of the club, Mark Snelling informs us the option of moving to the North Harbour Complex was most certainly an option. The fields were actually used in 1996 for junior and open grade games. The only certainty was that Albany had to find a new venue for their home ground.
During this same period of the mid nineties another local club was suffering from expansion problems. Rangitoto, like many other clubs, was formed by a breakaway group - this time from East Coast Bays in 1982. The club was totally dedicated to junior football, had no clubrooms, and for most of it’s existence had no senior teams. In fact, any senior teams tended to be older kids who wanted to maintain contact with the club. Once again the name Eric Hodges is to the fore, and the story goes that he and his wife Margaret, with friend Mike Shadbolt, were watching the sun set over Rangitoto on a glorious summer evening, and the decision was made that the name of the new club would be Rangitoto and they would play in red.
Originally their home ground was Freyberg Park, which was subsequently given to Rugby League. Rangitoto moved to Deep Creek and their midgets played at Sunnynook Park. Council development at Deep Creek did not materialise, and as the ground was not adequate for their requirements the club needed to move. With Albany and Rangitoto both looking for new grounds and clubrooms, and both operating in the same catchment area, a marriage of the two seemed sensible. Negotiations followed and in 1996 it was decided to combine Rangitoto and Albany’s midget leagues and play all games at Rosedale Park. Kristen school also joined this league. This worked very well, so the knot was tied and it was decided that the grounds and clubrooms would be at Rosedale Park. At a Special General Meeting held at the Rosedale Clubrooms the name and bagde was changed and also it was passed by vote that we would buy our share of the Rosedale Clubrooms. Hockey would be moved to Rosedale South. North Harbour Softball would remain at Rosedale and share all facilities, including the clubrooms, with the new Albany United Soccer Club Inc. being formed.
In 1979 the club's First, Reserves and two U18 teams proudly wore Adidas before the club moved to Umbro, Casper, Pony and then Lotto. In 2012, the club has turned full circle and moved to Adidas however this time for the entire club.
From the origins of the Club all the principals have either moved on or are no longer with us. Len Snelling passed away in 1996 and Eric Hodge passed away in 1994. In recognition of Eric’s work, not only for Rangitoto but for football in general, we run the annual ‘Eric Hodge Tournament’ at Rosedale Park for midget teams, and I’m pleased to say that Margaret Hodge remains patron of the Club. Bert Ford retired to Raglan where he continued his involvement in the sport until he passed away in 2005. In fact, the only active member still with the club from those early days is Bill Pittman, who joined as a midget coach for his son’s team. Bill is still an active member and last involved with our junior and youth was in 2010, coaching one our 19th Grade teams. During Bill’s 20 odd year association with the Club he held various positions such as Club Captain and Club President, and assisted the Club whenever help was required. In 2000 he was belatedly made a life member.
Our club relies heavily on grant funding and controlled management of funds to prosper. The clubs’ Executive Committee has the tough responsibility of ensuring decisions fit within the purpose of the club for all roughly 1300 members. Whilst still wanting to be successful in the results department, we ensure results on the field are through hard work and dedication, rather than mismanaged funds. Having people who love football, want to wear our colours and honour our badge comes first as we believe this constitutes members and with the Committee providing facilities, football foundations and purpose driven decisions for a football home, this will result in the club meeting its purpose and having members who will remain loyal to the club ensuring it has a quality future.
Priding itself on the fundamentals of football, providing for our members and the community. Our club is home to around 1300 members who love the sport. Ensuring the community is part of our decision making, we believe this sets us apart from neighbouring clubs. Albany is the only club within the North Shore who reserves spaces for school teams to play under the Albany umbrella for the federation run competitions whilst still providing a channel for the more competitive and elite footballers.
Learning from past mishaps and from our neighbouring clubs, its rare to find operations who have a purpose and ensure this purpose is at the forefront of its' decision making.
Albany is a thriving community club who was once in the highest honours of our federation and the greater Auckland area competition. One could argue the most elite club competition in the country. Having english league house hold television names playing in our colours and wearing or badge, the leadership of the club then making some bold decisions.
The Albany ship certainly had its flag flying high but like our neighbouring clubs, the purpose of the club was lost, members, development and a pathway for youth was ignored in lieu of results. The notion was that the results would bring about new members, natural development and a pathway for youth. The finances of the club weren’t in good stead and when the ship looked to be heading towards rocks at a rapid state, people walked away and lost interest. Those decisions actually blocked the pathway of our then youth who we see today are playing against us in opposition colours.
Some of the loyal members who remained stepped into leadership of the ship to anchor and steer it away from the treacherous rocks we were heading to.
A new leadership and with the decisions of our federation to remove all its member clubs from the Northern League in 2008, the club was in a more stable position in membership and finances but still no development ladder.
The club purpose and focus change slightly from fundamentals of football, providing for our members and the community to providing for our members and the community through fundamentals of football .
In 2008 the clubs direction changed and the focus became about opportunities for the people that were loyal to the club. Appointment of new coaching staff for the First, Reserves and U19s took shape to lead the club to new heights.
With a focus on using club players and the team focus on results than than the club focus on results we started to shape the journey to the club goals and aspirations.
In 2010 the re-introduction of the Northern League saw Albany’s re-introduction into the Northern Premier League for grading purposes. Losing out by one point to make the cut off for the Premier League in 2011, we had a second line in the Division 1b league but only managed 5th place in the standings.
A few changes in the coaching panel but the same people in charge, the foundation of the club started to form. Evidence by the youth team placing in the last 8 of the Nationals for the first time in the clubs history.
In 2011 the coaching and management panel changed to bring on a fresh set of ideas and passion. The Reserve team winning the Northern League 1st Division Reserve league being a fantastic achievement. The youth team had grown substantially. The youth team had several players in the First, Reserve and federation Men’s 1st Division teams and several players who deputised for these teams during the season. They achieved the most goals and points the club has achieved in its history at Nationals but needed one more point to break into the last 8. Infact it was a season of one pointers’ as the team also missed out by one point to win the Metro league.
The Albany ship has a destination and journey plan to ensure its members are looked after and provided for and ensuring it remains a community club through our sporting code of choice being football.
We are a club that loves football and want to see our members and the community achieve by providing them a home for football, a place to express themselves, a foundation to grow and learn, a dedicated environment to go from 5 to 55 with Albany United FC.
Albany certainly had its share of ups and downs, achievements, prosperity, results and big names on the field. We do hope the future is a prosperous one for us through the decisions and plans we have for our club and the community.
2012 started in the right direction with the new look unique branding of Adidas. Albany was the first official football club at amateur level to be wearing the Adidas brand. Sportworx will sponsor the club in a big way due to Champs Sports no longer around to do so. The Ricki Herbert Football Academy will join us to provide specific skills coaching for our midget and junior levels. The appointment of the Club Development Coach to deploy the Whole of Football Plan from NZ Football, and to start the development plan of Coaching the Coach's, and return statue to the club name by way of programs and tournaments. Our youth will continue to have opportunities to join the higher level teams whilst still receiving quality leadership. We will continue to ensure we are financially stable and continue to work with the community. Working with the federation to deploy the New Zealand Whole of Football Plan to ensure we are compliant with the countries governing body for football.
If you would like to join our community, see the sponsors page to see how you can contribute to Albany United FC, our Albany Community and Football in our area.