Young and old . . . Past and present players of West End Football Club will celebrate 50 years in September. PHOTO: HELEN HOLT

by Helen Holt

West End Association Football Club is celebrating 50 years of its junior club.

It will mark the occasion with a children’s gala next month.

Life member and original player Jeff Parker said the club was very family orientated.

“I played in one of the original teams, and then I started coaching teams when my sons started playing.”

The junior club was started in 1971 by Mick Wilkins, after the original senior club folded in 1966.

Mr Parker said the juniors helped to revive it.

“The juniors feed into the senior club, and then former players often get roped into coaching when their kids start playing.

“That’s how things seem to keep going.”

Young guns . . . West End Ipswich team players practise their moves before a big game. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Building the clubrooms was a highlight in the club’s history, he said.

“We had to do lots of fundraising to get the lights put in. And a lot of us kids came to fill the trench in.”

Proud moments for the club included when Renee Brookland played for the New Zealand under-20s in the 1980s.

Teamwork . . . The West End Junior Leeds side huddles before a big game at the Christchurch International Cup. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Committee member Amanda Davies said the club was successful.

“We’re strong throughout seniors and juniors. We have 27 junior teams with 252 children playing.

“We’re not about building super teams. We’re all about playing with friends and loving the game.”

Mrs Davies said organisers would like to see plenty of past and present players at the gala, and encouraged anyone who had historic club memorabilia to get in touch.

The gala will run from 1pm-4pm on September 5, at West End Park in Wai-iti Rd.