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Waihopai AFC 70th Jubilee All Go This Weekend

It’s all go for a weekend of big celebrations for a long-established Invers sports club.

Waihopai AFC is marking 70 years playing the round ball game this weekend.

Formed in 1950 Waihopai AFC is one of Southland’s leading football clubs and Southland’s most successful Southern League side.

The Waihopai AFC has club rooms and facilities based in the Surrey Park grandstand beside Southland’s jewel in the crown Stadium Southland.

Waihopai’s main ground is in the middle of the running track with two grounds and a training ground to the north of the running track.

Waihopai AFC playing field – Surrey Park. whatsoninvers.nz/Mal Gayfer

The old club rooms were situated behind the netball courts at Surrey Park and built by Ted O’Brien and a team of helpers for the princely sum of $2,000. The land was then required for the velodrome build – but then never used, and Waihopai AFC moved to their current club rooms in the grand stand at Surrey Park.

Club president Gordon Crombie told whatsoninvers that despite the Covid-19 restrictions they still have a big weekend of activities lined up.

He says they have about 80 former players and officials coming mainly from Invercargill, Dunedin and Central Otago.

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that several ex members can’t make it back from Australia for the 70th jubilee.

Gordon Crombie says reaching 70 years is a huge achievement and there are some players currently playing who have been with the club for 30+ years.

Chris Jones with ball being challenged by Gordon Crombie – pic supplied.

For Life Member Mark Greive belonging to and playing for Waihopai AFC is all about the people.

He says Waihopai  had a strong family focus over the years he was involved.

Looking back Mark Greive says in his view the peak years of the club were the 1990’s.

He says the club had a great run of success around that time finishing second in the Otago-Southland league with a team coached by Hughie Scott.

Other highlights included having a relatively successful run in the Fletcher Cup competition.

For the now Queenstown based businessman Mark Grieve says a couple of very close friends in John Scholl and Scotty Templer went on to win the Southland Footballer of The Year Awards.

As for players that went on to bigger things the former Right Fullback lists Aaron Burgess who played in the  junior grades for Waihopai and went on to play for the New Zealand Under 23 team.

Burgess still plays and has a long association with Dunedin Tech.

But Mark Greive says the personal highlight is the wonderful people and friends he has made in a 30 plus years playing for Waihopai AFC and of course being made a life member.

By the way, Greive described his playing style as crap, but fast.

Waihopai has a strong loyal membership with two senior mens sides and is going through a redevelopment phase.

Long, long time Waihopai AFC player Mark Buchanan challenged by Shane Blomfield. Pic supplied.

It’s hoped that some of the players from days gone by will put some boots on and line up for some of the games scheduled for this Saturday.

A new club patron is also expected to be announced at Saturday night’s jubilee function.

Waihopai is an inclusive football club with two senior mens teams, two juniors, and one fun football team. Sadly they haven’t had a women’s side for a couple of years but do have girls in our junior sides as its a mixed competition.

 

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