Soccer was first played in Pukekohe in 1914. A report in the local paper dated April 14th, 1914 recorded….
“A most enthusiastic meeting of the Pukekohe Soccer Club was held in the Pukekohe Hotel on the 27th of March. Chairman Mr Blair in presenting the first Annual Report and Balance sheet, stated that the past season had been a very successful one, the team travelling to Auckland every Saturday to compete. One Gold Medal was presented by Mr Wright to Mr Skivington as the most improved player.”
The war years intervened and no other records are available concerning soccer in the area following the 1914 meeting, but it would appear that the sport faded from the scene for a period of time.
The next piece of information available concerns Mr Ron Fricker, a former Auckland resident who came to live in Pukekohe in 1957 and started a team that played friendly games in Auckland during that year. In 1958 and 1959 the team played competitive football in the Auckland area.
Around this time, clubs and teams were being formed by people in Manurewa (Bill Semple and Alex Ogilvie), Papakura Army Camp (Joe Gantey and Archie Weir), Papakura (George Sheppard), Papatoetoe. Pukekohe High School expanded its teams to form a Town senior side led by our past President Hank Lieshout. Events moved quickly and a new sub association of Franklin & Districts was established and ready to start competition in 1960.
The inaugural meeting of the Pukekohe Club was held in the Pukekohe High School gymnasium on Tuesday February 23rd, 1960 at 8:00pm. Officers elected were:-
- President Mr G Woods
- Vice President 1 Mr D Hendrick
- Vice President 2 Mr J Stevenson
- Secretary Mr J Stevenson
It was established that the Club be called the Pukekohe Ramblers Association Football Club. Club colours would be Black shirts with a yellow v-neck, white shorts, black socks with yellow tops. Subscriptions would be 35 shillings per annum and a supporters club would be known as the Ramblers Social Club.
Mr G Humphreys was elected the first Club Delegate to the newly formed Franklin & Districts Football Association. Mitch Rogerson was appointed Manager/Coach of the Senior team and coach of the Junior team with Jim Stevenson as Junior manager. H Lieshout, W Still, D Broome and V Littmoden also played representative football for Franklin.
Subscriptions for 1961 were tabled as Seniors – 2 pounds, Juniors – 2 shillings and 6 pence.
Tom Walker of Pukekohe was Manager/Coach of the Franklin representative team that won the Minor Associations Trophy in 1962 – the Hallyburton-Johnston shield, after defeating Waikato 4-1 at Galloway Park in Hamilton. Messrs Lieshout, Littmoden, Still and Broome from Pukekohe were in this successful team.
In 1963 a combined Pukekohe/Papakura team finished 3rd in the Franklin League. Senior subscriptions were increased to 3 pounds and 10 shillings. The club’s senior playing strength read like a United Nations Peace-Keeping Force comprising of:
- 16 Kiwis
- 4 Englishmen
- 2 Scots
- 1 each from Holland, Ireland, Yugoslavia & Nigeria
For the first time, pitches became available at the Fen, Bledisloe Park.
Pukekohe won the Wiseman Cup in 1964 and finished Runners-up in the Franklin League. This achievement saw them promoted to the newly formed Northern League.
In 1965 Pukekohe progressed through to the 3rd round of the Chatham Cup after drawing 1-1 with Manurewa at full time and going through on corners 2 nil. The club colours changed to maroon and white.
J Whellams, D Ritchie and H Lieshout gained Representative honours in 1966. Pukekohe lost 1-3 to Gisborne City in the quarter finals of the Chatham Cup.
Pukekohe won the Wiseman Cup, defeating Manurewa 4-1 in the final. Floodlights were erected on the practice pitch.
1968 saw Pukekohe runners-up to Papakura in the Wiseman Cup, losing 2-4.
In 1973 Pukekohe finished 3rd in the Northern League 4th Division. Runners-up in the Wiseman Cup, losing 4-5 to Hamilton Wanderers in extra time.
Derek Jay who had been running junior teams in conjunction with the senior club retired with ill health in 1974.
A separate juniorclub was formed in 1975. Officers elected were:
- President: Brian Brock
- Secretary: Nellie Lieshout
- Treasurer: Jim McArdle
- JFA Delegate: Hugo Lieshout
- The club was named Pukekohe Junior Soccer Club
Over the next few years, the junior club made steady progress, while the senior side dropped out of the Northern League. Membership dwindled and the side continued to struggle in the Franklin League.
In 1982 the senior and junior clubs were brought back together under the same committee and matters improved with 3 senior and 15 junior teams being fielded. The club name was changed from Pukekohe Ramblers to Pukekohe Association Football Club (PAFC). Shorts were changed from white to maroon.
The senior 1st team returned to the Northern League 4th Division after beating Avondale United in play-off matches in 1984. The team finished 3rd in the league. Negotiations commenced for purchase of the Junior Boys Rugby Hall on Bledisloe Park as permanent club headquarters. Nellie Lieshout for the down payment launched a $10,000 public appeal.
Final negotiations were completed for the purchase of the club headquarters in 1985 and a $25,000 mortgage was taken out with the Pukekohe Borough Council.
Since 1984 the senior club has competed in the Northern League, mainly in the 3rd and 4th Divisions although promotion was gained to the 2nd Division for one season. The reserves have competed regularly in the Franklin (Counties Manukau) 1st Division. The junior teams have competed successfully in their various competitions with many junior players gaining representative status.
Other results of note:
1987 – 3rd Northern League 4th Division
1988 – 2nd Northern League 3rd Division
In recent years the older players have extended their playing careers in the Masters League.
The ladies’ team was restarted in 1997 there are now two women’s sides at the club.
In 1998 the final instalment was paid on mortgage so the clubrooms are now owned freehold.
The club membership continues to grow steadily over the years.
NZ Football ‘The Whole of Football Plan’ is introduced at Pukekohe. The plan aligned strategy, workforce and focus across football development in New Zealand. It provided a united pathway for players, coaches, referees and administrators to deliver a consistent high quality experience that is designed and tailored to meet their needs. The WOFP is playing at Pukekohe A & P Showgrounds during the winter.
The old Pukekohe Association Football Clubrooms on John Street, Pukekohe is demolished to make way for the new clubrooms. Pukekohe AFC share the Pukekohe Metro Cricket Clubrooms for one year during the build.
The highest membership of the club is recorded at 860. The new two storied Bledisloe Park Sports Centre is completed in September at a cost of $2.25 million. It has provided Pukekohe AFC with a practical and highly functional building that is also cost-effective. The stylish design includes downstairs changing rooms and a corner tuck-shop that opens to the grounds. Upstairs, there are a range of rooms including a bar and restaurant, office, meeting and event rooms and all are planned for disabled accessibility (including a lift). The design takes full advantage of the view from the clubrooms and includes a generous balcony area overlooking the playing fields.
Pukekohe AFC started running a Community Football Open Day (every year) for all to attend. This Open Day provides the community with football playing opportunities for children aged 4-9 yrs free of charge. Over 300 children from all sporting codes attended the Open Day to ‘have a go’ at football.
Franklin United Club was established in 2016 with the vision to create a sustainable pathway for the talented youth and seniors to the top level for all football players, coaches and referees in the Franklin Community. Franklin United give players the opportunity to develop their talent and see an elite pathway forward. Affiliated feeder clubs to Franklin United are Pukekohe AFC and Drury Utd FC.
A number of committed volunteers have been recognised for their efforts over the years and been awarded Life Membership.
- Leslie (Mitch) Rogerson
- Nellie Lieshout
- Ron Brown
- Kevin Loader
- Norman Vare
- Tony Davison
- Trevor Wild
- Hank Lieshout
- Kellie Loader
- Peter Wild
- John Murdie
- Steven Fabrello
- Catriona Fraser
- Andy Finlayson
- Tony Wisnewski