My name is John Simmonds, and I was born in Napier, New Zealand on 20 October 1950. In 1974 my soccer club advertised in the Manchester Pink for players to come out to New Zealand and play for us. From 97 replies we decided upon Jeff Rafferty from Stalybridge Celtic and Malcolm Wilson from the Northern Nomads.
Jeff was a Red and Malcolm was a Blue, in fact most of our club members were bloody Red supporters at the time. As Malcolm used to get so much stick, I sided with him and have been a Blues nut ever since.
My club Napier City Rovers have just been crowned National Summer League champions, and last weekend we lost 3-1 to Waitakere City in the final of the League’s top four Grand Final.
Over the years Napier has had numerous British players who were apprentices at the time but have since made it into the English Football League. Mark Morris currently with Brighton, ex Wimbledon, Watford, Sheffield United and Bournemouth: Brian McAllister still with Wimbledon: Jonathon Gould, currently with Bradford, ex Wimbledon, Halifax, Coventry and now in the full Scottish squad, and Brian Gayle ex Wimbledon, Sheffield United, Ipswich and currently with Rotherham, although on loan with Bristol Rovers, and of course he played for City for a couple of seasons.
I’m a member of the Manchester City New Zealand Supporters’ Club, which is run by Steve Ewan, and thanks must go out to him for the good work he does.
I’m coming over to the UK on 15 April arriving at Manchester Ringway at 8am on April 17, and will be meeting up with Malcolm Wilson, who is back living in Cheadle, but will be staying in Stockport with Jimmy Connor who is the Assistant Manager at Buxton and played for Napier during the 1983-84 season.
While I’m over I’m meeting up with a couple of players who have shown an interest in coming out to NZ to live and play for Napier City Rovers (anyone got Kinky’s home number?).
I hope this hasn’t put anyone to sleep, but believe me whether you’re in Manchester itself, or 12,000 miiles away we all feel the same elation of despair from City’s results and an intense hatred for the Reds. Ha, ha, just heard that United have lost 1-0 in Europe in the semi-final first leg.
I’ll be in Stockport off and on from April 16 until April 29, so if anyone wants to give me a ring at Jimmy Connors, the number is 0161-483-4709.
First printed in: MCIVTA Newsletter #287 on
John Simmonds Napier New Zealand