Northern League football returns to Cambridge after a six-year absence but the Reds’ new season starts with match-ups against local rivals.
Cambridge’s opening game of the Northern League schedule will be a trip south to Rotorua on Saturday to play Ngongotaha who were promoted as Waikato/Bay of Plenty champions in 2016.
The Reds, who are current Waikato/Bay of Plenty champions, will then host their first home game at John Kerkhof Park on Good Friday when the visitors are Hamilton’s Claudelands Rovers.
Winning promotion to the Northern League means Cambridge now plays in the fourth tier of competition, behind the ISPS Handa National Premiership, the Northern League Premier League and the league’s division one.
Only five years ago, Cambridge were playing two tiers lower, in the WaiBOP Federation League Two.
As well as Ngongotaha and Claudelands Rovers, this season’s opponents will come from the upper North Island and include Franklin United, Auckland’s Metro FC, Northland, Takapuna, Papakura City, Albany United, Te Atatu, Onehunga-Mangere and newly-promoted Bucklands Beach.
Cambridge’s squad retains most of last year’s title-winning team but has gained some new signings including Wayne Teague (from the UK), Bradley Rea (from Melville United), Jason Walker (from Rotorua United) and New Zealand U-18 futsal international goalkeeper Patrick Steele (from Matamata Swifts).
In preparation for the season, Cambridge has had a successful pre-season campaign beating Otumoetai 4-2, Te Awamutu 7-2 and losing 1-0 to Manukau United who play two divisions higher in the Northern League Premier competition.
As part of their participation in the Northern League, Cambridge will also field a team in the reserves competition, giving players the chance to develop and progress to a higher level.
Support the team at Ngongotaha
On Saturday, the reserves will play their Ngongotaha counterparts at 12.30pm with the main game starting at 2.45pm, at the club’s Stembridge Rd ground.
Our 2018 squad
First home game
The club will mark this season’s first home game by inviting members of Cambridge’s ‘Class of ‘93’ squad to be special guests. That team went unbeaten through the Northern League 1993 season, a feat not since repeated by the club, and supporters want to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the achievement.
The first home match sees Claudelands Rovers visit John Kerkhof Park on Good Friday (March 30) for a local derby.
The 1993 side won 19 matches and drew 3 to win the Northern League’s second division, and now provides the inspiration for a new generation of footballers representing Cambridge.
Cambridge Football Club are trying to track down as many of the 1993 squad as possible, inviting them to a pre-match lunch on Good Friday and to cheer on the current team. The invitation is also extended to other players from the early 1990s era.
The 1993 side was named Waipa’s Sports Team of the Year, an award in common with Cambridge’s current team who won that title for 2017.