Last updated on October 1st, 2023 at 12:31 PM
London will host one of international football’s oldest rivalries when New Zealand and Australia face-off in the capital next month.
The two sides, who first met in 1922, will go head-to-head at Brentford FC’s Gtech Community Stadium on Tuesday 17 October.
A bumper crowd is expected – boosted no doubt by many of the tens of thousands of Kiwis and Australians currently living and working in the city.
And, for the first time since 1954 there will be more than trans-Tasman pride at stake.
On the line will be the Soccer Ashes, a football trophy inspired by cricket’s little urn, and which was lost – assumed forever – following a game in 1954.
It contains the ashes of cigars smoked by the New Zealand captain George Campbell and his Australian counterpart Alex Gibb after a meeting of the teams back in June 1923.
The ashes were placed inside a silver-plated razor case, itself inside an elaborate wooden casket made from a combination of New Zealand honeysuckle and Australian maple by New Zealand trophy maker Harry Mayer.
The razor case was carried by Queensland Football Association Secretary Private William Fisher at the landing of Gallipoli in 1915, making the trophy a powerful symbol of the Anzac spirit – a term used to highlight the shared characteristics soldiers from both countries were said to exemplify on the battlefields of the First World War.
Having disappeared many decades ago, the Soccer Ashes were believed to be consigned to sporting history, only for them to turn up recently in the garage of former Australian Soccer Federation Association chair Sydney Story, whose relatives discovered the trophy, still in perfect condition, while sorting through his belongings.
So, for the first time in 69 years, New Zealand and Australia will once again compete for the much-loved trophy – albeit a long way from home, in suburban west London.
New Zealand Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell said: “Since the Soccer Ashes trophy was rediscovered, locking in a game against Australia to play for them was a top priority.
“This trophy represents not just the shared footballing history of our two countries but also the shared history of our two nations in general, so it will be a special occasion to see it competed for.”
Football Australia chief executive James Johnson agreed, adding: “The trophy is a powerful symbol of the many ties that bind our two nations.
“We’re delighted to provide the many Australian and New Zealand expats living in London and throughout Europe with the opportunity to support their respective national teams live, and I’d like to thank the team at Brentford Football Club for hosting us at Gtech Community Stadium.”
Tickets to the Soccer Ashes game are available, priced from £12 for under-17s, £14 for young adults (18-24) and seniors, and £16 for adults. To book a ticket now, visit: https://www.eticketing.co.uk/brentfordfc/EDP/Event/Index/193