|Full name||WaiBop United|
|Ground||John Kerkhoff Park, Cambridge, New Zealand|
|Website||Club home page|
Waikato Football Club, currently known as Yardhouse Waikato Football Club due to sponsorship agreements, is a football (soccer) club based in Hamilton, New Zealand. The club was founded in 2004 and currently play in the ASB Premiership. Waikato FC play their home fixtures at Fred Jones Park, the secondary pitch at Waikato Stadium.
The club is the regional representative for Waikato-Bay of Plenty Football, and has previously played home fixtures in Rotorua and Mount Maunganui, both in the Bay of Plenty region. Between 2008 and 2010, Waikato FC was based at Centennial Park in Ngaruawahia, having before that played at Waikato Stadium.
As of October 2012 (squad list not complete)
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
- Head Coach: Peter Smith
- Assistant Coach: Danny Donegan
- Goalkeeper Coach: Neil Mouncher
- Manager: Graham Nobilo
Waikato's first season in existence was a moderately successful one. Playing in the inaugural season of the New Zealand Football Championship, they managed to finish in third place, after a poor start to the campaign.
Waikato's first ever competitive game was away at YoungHeart Manawatu, which they won convincingly 4-0 sending them straight to the top of table. Unfortunately they only won one of their next nine games, a run which saw them slide down to seventh in the eight-team league. In a dramatic change of fortunes, Waikato went on to win their next five games, including an away win over eventual champions Auckland City. They only lost two more games during the season and defied pre-season predictions by claiming third place and a spot in the playoffs' "Elimination Final" against Waitakere United. Waikato were crushed 4-1 by Waitakare at Trusts Stadium, Auckland, ending their hopes of Championship victory but claiming overall third place was deemed a good achievement for a team that many expected to finish last.
Craig Flowerday won Waikato's Player' Player of the Year award, and goalkeeper Mark Fulcher won Supporters' Player of the Year. David Samson won the Young Player of the Year Award. Striker Colin Gardyne won Sky Sports' Goal of the Season award, and was also Waikato FC's joint-top goalscorer along with Brett Derry.
Despite finishing second bottom of the table, the team showed signs of promise, losing several fixtures by a single goal. Indeed, injuries to key personnel did little to dent the squad's resolve. The move to playing games outside Hamilton, perhaps was not financially successful, as the gate numbers were not as large as expected, but Rotorua became a fortress with wins over both Hawke's Bay Utd and eventual champions Auckland City.
For the start of Season Five the Waikato FC made some bold intentions by signing up Kevin Fallon to manage the club. From the outside everything at the club seemed fine, but internally the club was in financial strife. Just out from the start of the season the club came out and said that it could no longer afford to compete in the NZFC. This created a huge outcry amongst the football fraternity. To make the situation worse for the NZFC, Team Wellington also publicly announced that it too could no longer afford to take part in the competition.
With the prospect of no Waikato/Bay Of Plenty representation at national level, and also the fear that the NZFC would collapse, various people in the football community stepped in to help, some of the most notable being people such as Gordon Glen-Watson who had played top level football in New Zealand, and Wayne Bates, a Ngaruawahia United AFC alumni. Anyone costing the club significant sums of money was let go leaving the club with no playing or coaching staff. To help keep the club alive Ngaruawahia United offered Waikato FC their facilities at Centennial Park for training and playing.
Dave Edmondson, Ngaruawahia United's coach, put his name forward to help the team at no cost and Graham Pearce, formally of Waitakere United, came on board and very quickly Waikato FC put together a piecemeal team to compete in the NZFC.
The NZFC itself went through a major restructure during this same period to keep Waikato FC and Team Wellington in competition. To keep the costs down, the third round of the competition was culled. This was good news for some clubs but not others, especially teams based in the Auckland region. As a compensation for them an extended finals was introduced with each team playing home and away.
While Waikato FC did not make the top four and qualify for the playoffs, it was in touch with the leaders throughout the season and had it been lucky enough to pick up a further four points would have qualified for the finals.
NZFC League Positions & Finals Results
A list of Waikato FC's League Placings as well as the NZFC League Champions:
|2004–05||21||9||4||8||27||25||31||3rd||Auckland City FC|
|2005–06||21||6||4||11||31||44||22||7th||Auckland City FC|
|2006–07||21||3||5||13||19||45||14||7th||Auckland City FC|
|2008–09||14||6||1||7||19||22||19||6th||Auckland City FC|
- 2004-05: Waikato FC played Waitakere United away in the Preliminary Final losing 4-1. Auckland City FC won the Grand Final 3-2.
- 2005-06: Top five sides in the League appeared in Playoffs. Auckland City FC won the Grand Final 4-3 on penalties against Canterbury United after extra time finished 3-3.
- 2006-07: Return to Preliminarily and Grand Final only format. Playing the Grand Final at home, Waitakere United lost 2-3 to Auckland City FC.
- 2007-08: Same format as 2006-2007 with Waitakere United winning 2-0 against Team Wellington at home.
- 2008-09: Season reduced to Round Robin format due to various clubs, especially Waikato FC suffering from severe financial difficulties. To compensate for this, a Round Robin top four playoff was introduced with Waitakere United losing 1-2 to Auckland City FC at home in the Grand Final.
- Declan Edge (July 1, 2004–June 30, 2006)
- Roger Wilkinson (July 1, 2006–June 30, 2008)
- Dave Edmondson (July 1, 2008–June 30, 2009)
- Che Bunce (July 1, 2009–June 30, 2010)
- Willy Gerdsen (Aug 10, 2010–June 30, 2011)
- Dave Edmondson (July 1, 2011–Aug 22, 2011)
- Declan Edge (Aug 23, 2011–Nov 27, 2012)
- Mark Cossey (Nov 27, 2012–June 30, 2013)
- Peter Smith (July 1, 2013–Present)