Auckland United Softball Club is a Fastpitch Softball club catering to all age groups, genders and skill levels. Additionally United host a central clubs’ Teeball module for boys and girls up to eight years of age at our home, Fowlds Park, Mt Albert, Auckland. For over 60 years Auckland United has a proud tradition of producing players and administrators who have gained representative selection to regional and international teams.
The Start of United
Back in 1947, the surprise departure of many of Eden’s stars to found the United club did not stop Eden’s long run of Auckland title wins.
“We started United to create true competition,” said the late Alf Whelan, who went on to be the most influential man ever in New Zealand history. He and Don Brewer, both originally from Wanganui, were the brains behind the growth of Eden’s talent and knowledge and the duo organised the new club.
“Eden had won everything and the club was getting bigger and bigger. There were plenty of young players who were never going to get a chance and also the game was not going to move if one team kept winning all the time.”
“We gathered up a group of players from all clubs, not just Eden, but they said that we had robbed them of all the stars, which was not accurate. They came from everywhere and it was not a case of taking the best from each team.”
“They had to want to go to a new outfit with no background. Some might have thought about it but did not make the move. It was sad that the rift took so long to heal, if it did with some people.”
The biggest uproar over the new club came when the ASA allowed the one-team unit to start in the major grade right from the first day. The decision was to lead to a change in the rules which forced the next new major league side, Bears, to start in the Major B division where it thrived, won and had two players, one of them the new club’s organiser Brewer, in the Auckland team.
Eden survived the loss of their key players, promoted their reserves and went on to win the Auckland title for the next four years out of five, winning the national title in 1950 and 1951. It was the only time in the almost 70 years of the ASA that a men’s team won consecutive national trophies until Ramblers in recent years.
But that was Auckland’s last national club title for almost thirty years as the growth of the Auckland clubs really started. Brewer later left Bears to return to Wanganui and Bears later split to form Mt Roskill.
The Eden knowledge was well spread. The next Auckland club to the nationals win was United, but not until the club had been striving for that title for thirty years.
(Whelan went on to the Auckland Board, then the NZ Council and became the national coach in the first three world series before becoming national president).
December 6th, 1947 THE GRUDGE MATCH
(There was a great deal of bitterness after the split, coming to a boil in the first game between the two clubs at Fowlds Park).
The main match between United and Eden was an exciting tussle. This match was played at a fast clip, both teams making brilliant plays and it was only a succession of errors that lost United the advantage over the early stages.
In its first innings United scored three runs but its fielding failed and Eden scored five runs. A loose throw to Whelan at first base and United was in confusion. In the second however it managed to tighten up and although it just held its nippy opponent, Eden captain Bob King was responsible for a dazzling display on second base. Centre fielder Clive Porteous brought off some spectacular running catches. For United, former Eden shortstop Brewer was impressive. He hit a very long home run in the fourth innings. Eden won 7-4.
United back at Fowlds Park
Northcote, a team with two Black Sox stars, a Samoan team star and a former international pitcher, was surprisingly held to two tiebreaker innings by rookie club United.
United, playing softball’s first premier league match at Fowlds Park for 36 years, held a 4-3 lead going into the second tiebreaker but Northcote’s power was finally too much and the championship contenders won 5-4 in the ninth.
United’s pitcher Noel Clark was not over-awed in facing Paddy Shannon and Brad Rona, two of the Black Sox batting sensations in the world championship last weekend, along with Samoan internationals Duane Jerard and Steven Tau while former Sox man Derrek Coleman pitched for Northcote.
Until the fourth inning, only Rona had collected a hit against the veteran Clark before a three run rally started with consecutive hits from Shannon, Rona and Jerard seemed to signal the start of the Northcote offensive. Casey Eden drove in the third run of the inning and the fans sat back to watch the action.
But the next rally was from United, a mixture of veterans and raw youngsters, back in the top grade after years in the minors. Isaac Fletcher, one of the future stars of the game, combined with Clark in the fifth and both scored, aided by a powerful hit from Simon Edwards. The inning ended with two runners on base.
Northcote went three up and three down in the sixth with the batting potential still not evident.
United’s Roger Marshman, fresh from his world series with Great Britain, started the sixth with a clever hit, advanced on an error and scored on a hit by all-rounder Clark to tie the score at 3-3.
Smart fielding from United kept Northcote out in the seventh and the first tiebreaker passed with no score, although it took smart fielding to have Clive Evans, the Great Britain shortstop, tagged at home to prevent United taking the lead.
Then United scored in the ninth with a sacrifice by Clark and a fine two-base hit by Edwards.
Northcote scored the winning runs in the final tiebreaker to prevent the embarrassment against the lowly newcomers. However United has been getting closer to the top teams as the season progresses, boosted by the coaching of former world champion Brett McKenzie and assistant Myles Hogarty.
Auckland United Softball would like extend a very big thank you to Mr. Trevor Rowse for providing the above information, once again thank you for your support.