Cambridge have received one of the glamour draws in the first round of this year’s ISPS Handa Chatham Cup.
Not only have the Reds been drawn to play at home, their opponents will be one of the most talked about teams in the Northern League, Waiheke Island.
The Islanders have built a reputation for becoming one of the best-supported clubs in the country with hundreds of supporters travelling to get behind their team with flags, banners and coloured smoke.
It promises to create a fantastic atmosphere at John Kerkhof Park when the cup tie is played on Saturday May 12 with a 2.30pm kick off.
Waiheke Island have risen rapidly through the ranks of the Lotto NRFL, earning promotion to the first division, a tier above Cambridge.
The tie gives Cambridge the chance once more to test itself against a team that plays its league football at a higher level.
Last year, Cambridge gave first division side Western Springs a scare before succumbing late in the game; in 2013, the Reds held out premier division Birkenhead United until the last 20 minutes.
Cambridge coach Mike Woodlock was delighted with the cup draw, likening it to last season’s tie against Western Springs.
At the time, the Reds had stumbled in the WaiBOP Premiership and were in 9th place on the table.
“The cup match kick-started our season,” Woodlock said. “After that game, we never looked back.”
The Reds played outstandingly against Springs and then began a long unbeaten run that saw them take the Premiership title, promotion to the Lotto NRFL and taking the Waipa Sports Team of the Year award.
The Chatham Cup is the oldest cup competition in New Zealand with this year’s knockout contest the 91st in its history.
Photo: Waiheke’s supporters pack the ground to get behind their team. Courtesy: Auckland Football Federation.