Cambridge Football Club has been serving its community since its formation in 1948 when football enthusiasts began organising games for two junior teams.
In its early days, the teams played in light blue after the colours used by Cambridge University, England.
1951 The club held its first formal meeting on March 20, 1951, appointing Viv Butler as its first president, and R.S.Entwistle as its patron. Butler’s support of English club Arsenal led to a change of club colours and from the mid-1950s, Cambridge teams have played in red and white strips.
1957 The club played its home games on the Town Square until 1957 when a two-room wooden shed was built on the Leamington Domain for £134.19.
1964 On December 1, 1964, the Cambridge Borough Council agreed to provide the club with land on the town belt in Vogel Street and plans were drawn up for the clubrooms to be built.
1967 In 1967, the club moved into the Vogel St grounds, where it has been based since. The grounds are still owned by the Waipa District Council but leased to the club on a long-term basis.
1972 In 1972, the club applied for its senior men’s team to join the Northern League competition.
1974 Extensions to the clubrooms and playing fields became necessary and were built in 1974, with new junior grounds established beside the Polo Club grounds further north on Vogel St.
1978 In 1978, the club elected its first women committee member.
1979 The club won its first senior title, winning the Northern League’s 4th Division.
1983 Junior teams (11,12 and 13 year olds) entered the Waikato competitions for the first time in 1983.
1985 England footballing legend Kevin Keegan visited the club, hosting a one-day coaching course at John Kerkhof Park and attended by hundreds of admiring youngsters.
1986 The club again won the Northern League’s 4th Division.
1987 The club’s grounds in Vogel Street are officially renamed John Kerkhof Park in recognition of the contribution to the club of its former president, Dutch immigrant John Kerkhof, who, with members of his family and other supporters, built the clubrooms and changing facilities in the 1960s.
1989 The club won the Northern League’s 3rd Division, achieving its highest senior ranking yet.
1993 The club reached new heights in 1993, winning the Northern League 2nd division and promotion to the top division with a side unbeaten in 22 fixtures. The team won the Cambridge Sports Team of the Year and the Waikato Sports Foundation’s Team of the Year.
1995 The club built a concrete car park in 1995 that’s still in use today. The car park is where the club sometimes erects temporary grandstands for major fixtures.
2001 The club won the Waipa Sports Club of the Year award for the first time.
2005 In 2005, the Waipa District Council approved the transfer of the Polo Grounds to the football club for use by its junior players, while the polo club moved to new grounds in Lamb St, Leamington.
2006 The Cambridge U-19s won the final of the Satellite Group at the national youth tournament in Napier, beating Ellerslie 1-0, but were deemed to have breached tournament rules by playing a 14-year-old when the minimum age was 15. The player was Chris Wood, future All White captain and English Premiership striker.
2007 In 2007, the old polo clubhouse was knocked down to make way for a new junior building. The Cambridge junior teams celebrated their new home by winning all five 8th-Open grade WJSA knockout trophies, a first for both Cambridge and the WJSA. The U-19s won the Satellite Group at the national youth tournament in Napier, beating Dunedin Technical 2-1 in the final.
2008 The club’s main senior clubrooms survived a tornado in late 2008 but suffered damage to walls, roof and windows, while shattered glass was sprayed over the nearby number one pitch. Other sports clubs and community groups came to help the club and helped it rebuild. Cambridge won the 2008 Waikato Cup.
2009 The club’s U-19 team were runners-up in the Satellite Group at the national youth tournament in Napier, losing the final 1-0 to Dunedin.
2010 The club launched a five–year plan for its membership which had now grown to more than 600 players, with men’s, women’s and junior teams. The achievements of its junior section won the club the Trustpower Waipa District Community Services Award for Sport.
2011 After 40 seasons in the Northern League the club was relegated from the Lotto Sport Italia NRFL Division 2 in 2011 after finishing 12th and losing the challenger series playoff vs Manukau City AFC. The club won the New Zealand Match Programme of the Year Award for 2011.
2012 The club elected to drop two divisions into the Waikato Bay of Plenty Football Federation Division Two to rebuild under coach Karl Dagnall and won promotion in 2012 to Waikato Bay of Plenty Football Federation Division One. In 2012, Cambridge FC announced that John Kerkhof Park would also become the home base for Cambridge Baseball Club.
2013 In 2013, Cambridge FC and the neighbouring Cambridge Harriers and Athletics Club began a partnership, enabling the football club to play some games at the adjacent athletics track while it developed John Kerkhof Park.
In 2013, the club won the Soccer Shop Waikato Plate and hosted premium events such as the Soccer Shop Waikato Cup Final, the Waikato v Bay of Plenty All Stars game, and the WaiBOP Women’s All Stars v WaiBOP National League side.
In 2013, the club was appointed as the home ground for five ASB Premiership matches for new franchise WaiBOP United. This meant Cambridge became one of six bases for national league football in New Zealand (the others are Auckland, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin).
The appointment led to the club becoming an all-year operation, with investment in better facilities including upgraded playing surfaces, new changing rooms (scheduled for mid-2014) and a new irrigation system.
2014 The club’s first team finished runners-up in the 2014 WaiBOP Federation Division 1, while the U-15 team won the Federation Youth League. Our women won the Waikato Women’s Cup. In 2014, the club won a series of high profile awards for its work in football and in the wider community.
WaiBOP Football named the club its 2014 Club of the Year for its successful efforts to host ASP Premiership fixtures and other premium matches. Cambridge also won two WaiBOP Best Practice awards in 2014 (for building partnerships with sponsors, and for the participation of women at our club).
The club was named Waipa District’s 2014 Supreme winner for the Trustpower Community Awards, becoming only the second sports club to take this award. This also led to the club’s nomination for the national Trustpower Community Awards to be held in Wellington in March 2015.
Cambridge completed its hat-trick of major awards in 2014, being named Waipa District’s Sports Club of the Year. We were finalists in the Waikato Sports Club of the Year while chairman Greg Zeuren was named Sports Administrator of the Year for both Waipa and the Waikato in 2014.
2015 As the club entered its 68th season, it did so as an all–year operation, providing winter football for 600+ players, spring/early summer 5-a-side football for social players and acting as a base for national league summer football.
It continued to make history — on February 6, 2015, it staged the first game of beach football by women played to FIFA rules and pitch standards in New Zealand, at the Karapiro Sandcourts.
In March 2015, construction began of the club’s $200,000 extension to its changing rooms, providing six more sets of showers/changing rooms for local and visiting players.
On 25 May 2015, the club staged its first ever international match when Fiji and Hungary came to Cambridge for an U–20 international as preparation for the FIFA U–20 World Cup tournament.
In July 2015, our club was awarded the Quality Club Mark by New Zealand Football, becoming only the fourth club in our region to achieve the 1 Star status, and becoming one of fewer than 30 clubs throughout the country to earn the QCM.
Cambridge won the 2015 WaiBOP Premiership and the chance to seek promotion to the Northern League. It lost a two-legged play-off to Auckland champions Waitemata by one goal. Our U-17 team won the 2015 WaiBOP Youth League.
Learn more about our club’s past and our more recent achievements in this special 66-page issue of RED, our club magazine, published to celebrate an award-winning 2015:
2016 The club was acknowledged with a Community Services award from Corrections NZ for its work over three years, helping to provide work opportunities for those sentenced by courts to perform work in the community. Cambridge were runners-up in the WaiBOP Premiership and its women’s first team were runners-up in the Waikato Plate. Catherine Clark was a finalist in the Waipa Sports Administrator of the Year awards.
2017 Member registrations exceeded 800 for the first time, reflecting the ongoing popularity of football and its growth in our town. On the pitch, the club had its most successful season ever, winning the Loaded WaiBOP Premiership and Championship titles, the Waikato Women’s League and retaining the WaiBOP Challenge Shield until 2018.
The U-19s won the Satellite Group of the national youth tournament in Napier, beating Tauranga City United 3-2 in the final. The club’s Waikato B team also reached the final of the Waikato Cup.
The men’s first team won promotion to the 2018 Northern League by winning a two-legged promotion play-off series 5-4 on aggregate against Auckland’s Beachlands Maraetai.
For its efforts, the side was awarded the title of Waipa’s Sports Team of the Year and became a finalist for the Waikato Club Team of the Year.
The club was also a highly-recommended finalist for the Website of the Year at the annual NZ Football Media Awards.
The club’s grounds, John Kerkhof Park, consist of a premium pitch used for Waikato Bay of Plenty Football Federation matches and national league fixtures, and 25 pitches used for senior and junior games.
For national league fixtures, volunteer workers can erect a mini-stadium using temporary grandstands and seating, providing a ground capacity for up to about 1,200 spectators, with seating for about 600.
Probably the club’s best-known past player is New Zealand international striker Chris Wood who joined English Championship club Leeds United for $4.6 million from Leicester City in July 2015. He transferred to Premier League club Burnley in 2017, scoring at Wembley in his debut.
Wood made his senior debut at Cambridge as a 14–year–old, having previously played for our juniors.
Another former New Zealand international is Maria Anderton, who played for the Football Ferns in 1987 and who captained the Cambridge women’s A team for 12 seasons until her retirement as a player in 2014.
Cambridge juniors to earn international honours include Tayla Christensen and Katie Hoye (Football Ferns), Jamie Woodlock (NZ U–17s and Papua New Guinea national squad), and Che Bunce (All Whites).
Winners of the Jim Barry Player’s Player of the Year awards are listed here.
Our club’s record in league competitions can be found here.
Our club’s record in the Chatham Cup can be found here.