Sydney: An “Ashes” trophy contested between Australia and New Zealand in the early years of international football in Australasia has been rediscovered in a suburban garage after going missing for almost seven decades, Football Australia (FA) said on Tuesday.
The trophy was constructed of wood from both countries and contained the ashes of cigars smoked by the captains of the national teams after their first international meeting on Australian soil in 1923.
The trophy went missing in the mid-1950s but was recently discovered in the belongings of a deceased former Australian Soccer Football Association (ASFA) chairman and returned to FA by his grandchildren.
“This is quite possibly the greatest domestic treasure there is in the game,” Trevor Thompson, who with fellow football historian Ian Syson had been searching for the trophy, said in an FA statement.
Perched on top of the wooden casket was a silver razor box carried by a soldier during the Gallipoli landings in World War One, an ill-fated amphibious assault by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) on the coast of modern-day Turkey.
Symbol of courage
The landings, which resulted in heavy casualties, are still marked on both sides of the Tasman Sea by an annual public holiday on April 25.
“The story attached to these soccer ashes is extraordinary, and its journey is a symbol of the courage and camaraderie of the Anzacs,” said FA chairman Chris Nikou. “This shared spirit continues to be demonstrated every time Australia and New Zealand take to the sporting arena.”
New Zealand won the first full international between the countries 3-1 in Dunedin in 1922.