When you hear about world football clubs and International success the first couple that spring to mind might be Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich, but a little known club in New Zealand Auckland City FC have had their fare share of success domestically, continentally and internationally.
Based in Auckland New Zealand’s largest and most populous city, Auckland City FC was formed in 2004 as an original member of the New Zealand Football Championship. The football championship was created to replace the now former New Zealand National Soccer League.
Much like Australia’s A-League which was created a year later, the Football Championship originally featured 8 franchise styled entities and traditional clubs were not given the opportunity to compete.
Auckland City competed in the first ever competitive New Zealand Football Championship game setting the example for what was to come defeating Napier City Rovers [now Hawke’s Bay United] 3-1 in Napier.
Playing out at the picturesque Kiwitea Street ground Auckland City took out the league’s first season by 6 points from their closest rival Waitakere United and then went on to claim the double defeating the same team in the 2005 Grand Final 3-2.
Taking out the league earned Auckland a spot in that year’s OFC Club Championship, their first of many appearances. They would leave disappointed though unable to get out of the group stage losing to the newly formed Sydney FC who would go on to win the first A-league championship a year later and Tahitian side AS Pirae. There was consolation from their final group game defeating Sobou FC from Papua New Guinea 6-1, finishing the tournament in 3rd place in their group.
Since then Auckland City has been a powerhouse domestically in New Zealand and continentally in Oceania. Winning a further 6 premierships and 5 championships, and taking out the OFC Champions League 8 times including winning the last 6 tournaments after defeating fellow New Zealand side Team Wellington in this year’s final.
This year’s title win qualified Auckland for their 6th straight Club World Cup appearance, the most consecutive appearances by any club in the world and the most at a Club World Cup.
Their most notable appearance at a Club World Cup was in 2014 where they finished the tournament in 3rd place. On their way to doing so Auckland beat Moroccan champions Moghreb Tetouan 4-3 on penalties, African Champions ES Setif from Algeria 1-0 and CONCACAF champions Cruz Azul from Mexico 4-2 on penalties after regular time finished 1-1.
The only teams who finished higher in the tournament were Real Madrid and San Lorenzo. All Whites legend Ivan Vichelich received the bronze ball for his efforts in that tournament.
After seasons of dominance in New Zealand and Oceania, there has been calls from Australia to include Auckland City in the A-League to create a New Zealand derby with the Wellington Phoenix. Even with their success it’s unlikely they’ll be in the A-League anytime soon due to the previous failure of Auckland based New Zealand Knights.
Club president Ivan Vuksich has previously stated hands on support from investors; ones close to the team [in New Zealand] were needed for the club to succeed at a professional level.
Although since then a potential investor and Wellington Phoenix board member Gareth Morgan has stated “If Auckland got off its butt, I would be there. I just think it would be a good idea for the game. The conversations I have had with the FFA in Australia is that they are supportive of the idea.”