But far from the New Zealanders having a football heritage to match the mighty All Blacks at rugby union, this ‘Auckland’ in fact refers to West Auckland FC. A team of miners from County Durham in north-east England.
In 1909, this club from the Northern League was invited to compete for the prestigious Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy in Turin, considered by many to be a precursor to today's World Cup.
That trailblazing tournament is recalled in an intriguing lot coming up at the north-eastern auction house Anderson & Garland in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on June 13-15: the winner's medal awarded to Alfred Edwin (Tot) Gubbins of West Auckland FC.
Italy, Germany and Switzerland all sent professional club sides to Turin, but the English Football Association refused their invitation.
The Anderson & Garland catalogue notes say: “Not wanting England to be unrepresented, Lipton invited West Auckland as an amateur side. Suspicions are cast around a potential administrative error and Lipton meaning to contact Woolwich Arsenal Football Club instead [mixing up the WA].”
But the club’s website says: “Recent research has suggested, however, that West Auckland were the intended recipient of the invitation, but it is still not known why.”
Doubts aside, West Auckland went on to win the tournament, with many players paying out of their own pocket to do so. They beat Stuttgarter Sportfreunde of Germany 2-0 and then next day beat FC Winterthur of Switzerland by the same score to take the trophy that still features on the club’s badge.
Not only that, but they retained the title in 1911. The club website says: “In 1911 ‘West’ were invited back to the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy as holders. They played Swiss side FC Zürich, winning 2-0 to set up a final with Italian giants Juventus, after they had beaten local rivals FC Torino. On April 17, 1911, ‘West’ beat the future 33-time Serie A winners 6-1 to earn the second star we see on the club badge today.”
Harder times were to follow with the club folding in 1912, to be reformed as West Auckland Town FC two years later.
As the club website now proudly states: “West Auckland Town FC, known as ‘West’, have a unique history as they are double world cup winners.”
More ‘world cup’ wins than England…
New Zealand new life
‘Tot’ Gubbins, born in Bishop Auckland in 1884, married Jane Hannah Henderson in the parish church of New Shildon, Co Durham, 1907.
His profession being given on the marriage certificate as shunter (a railway job), Tot was also a miner from an early age, but showed aptitude on the pitch, winning a place on the 1909 West Auckland tournament team.
In 1912 Tot and his wife and daughter left England for New Zealand on the ship Turakino and lived in Upper Hutt, North Island, and later in Marton, served as a signalman for the New Zealand railways. He died at the age of 50 from a heart complaint in 1934.
His grandson, Philip Alfred Anderson, who lives in Lower Hutt City, New Zealand, has offered the medals up for auction and they are estimated at £4000-6000. The lot includes Tot’s 9ct yellow gold and enamel football medal for the Nursing Cup Competition, 1904-05.