Technical Old Boys' 1962 Chatham Cup Triumph
Firstly, 2022 marks the 60th anniversary of Technical Old Boys (Hamilton) becoming the first team outside the “four main centres” to win the Chatham Cup. The 1962 final at the Basin Reserve, in which they beat 1961 winners Northern 4-1, is regarded as one of the best finals of all time, after an explosive start in which both teams scored in the opening five minutes.
Technical (or Old Technicals as they were sometimes known) had been given little chance by most pundits and beforehand Tech were mostly referred to as being “plucky”. However afterwards the Waikato Times was able to headline its match report like this: Technical Is New Zealand Soccer Club Supreme With Great Victory.
“Well done Technical... It was a thrilling victory which will go down in New Zealand soccer history. Northern (Dunedin) was well and truly humbled to the tune of 4-1.”
Tech keeper Mel Clarke was named man of the match, while the team were honoured with a parade and then a mayoral reception in Hamilton City Council chambers on their return, heartily congratulated by mayor, Dr Denis Rogers.
It was a remarkable pioneering achievement for a club formed just 13 years earlier. As the name suggests, the club was based around old boys from Hamilton Technical High School, which used to be situated in the centre of Hamilton, on what is now part of the Wintec campus.
Tech had no clubrooms and their aftermatch ceremony when they beat Moturoa 4-0 at Seddon Park on August 18 (the North Island final) was held at Hamilton’s Old Folks Hall. They had no training facilities, mostly practising under the street lights surrounding Hinemoa Park, and never boasted more than two teams. Their claret and pale blue tops were hand-sewn.
A couple of weeks earlier they negotiated arguably their toughest hurdle in getting past Ken Armstrong’s formidable North Shore United team, pipping them 4-2 at Seddon Park in the North Island semifinal.
Arthur Leong, a physical education teacher at Fairfield College, was the heart and soul of the team (though they also had two other players with New Zealand caps in Fritz and Klaus Poelman).
Leong was not only captain and coach, but also club president and had been a starting member of the New Zealand team which a year earlier had faced Tom Finney’s touring England XI.
Leong was a small but incredibly nimble and quick centre back or full back, whose other claim to fame was being the first player of Asian ethnicity to represent New Zealand (he made 15 appearances from 1959-1964). Most of the Old Technicals have passed, but Arthur lives just a corner kick from Gower Park these days. He turned 92 a couple of weeks ago and is also possibly New Zealand oldest living All White.
Northern had won the South Island final beating Nelson Rangers 2-1. The Dunedin club was the strongest in the country, having won the Chatham Cup in 1959 and 1961, and the inaugural Rothmans Cup in 1962.
The final in Wellington on September 1 was a daunting prospect for the small Hamilton club. The players’ wives and girlfriends spent a day sewing their strip for the final. The New Zealand Football Association offered train tickets, but no accommodation. However the players got together and decided they would pay for themselves to stay in a hotel.
There was a crowd of about 6000 at the Basin Reserve and it looked ominous when Northern’s George Little opened the scoring in the fourth minute, adding to his goals in the 1959 and 1961 finals.
But from the kickoff Paul Nevison ran through an equalised, and 19-year-old Trevor Jones and Peter Feenstra added two more before half time, which crushed Northern, while Nevison scored again in the second half. At the other end, Clarke was brilliant in goal.
Up next: Hamilton AFCs' 1972 Northern League Title