Name: Wellington Phoenix FC
League: Hyundai A-League
Stadium: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Nickname: The ‘Nix'
Manager: Ernie Merrick
Club: The Phoenix started life in the Australian-League and were granted special dispensation by FIFA President Sepp Blatter after controversy erupted over their eligibility to play. The Phoenix best finish in the A-League to date was the 09/10 season where they reached the League playoffs.
During that season the club captured the imagination of New Zealand as they played their way to the Preliminary Final against Sydney FC only to be beaten 4-2.
Ground: The Wellington Phoenix play home games at Westpac Stadium in New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. The silver stadium is nicknamed the 'Cake Tin' in reference to the circular shape, but Phoenix fans know it as the ‘Ring of Fire’.
Located on the Wellington waterfront, the stadium is one of the most picturesque in New Zealand with the circular shape offering a panoramic peek of the surrounding hills beyond the silver rim.
The stadium currently has a capacity of 34,500 and was filled to the brim when the New Zealand All Whites played their heroic qualifying game against Bahrain in 2009 to reach the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa.
Other sporting teams to regularly use this ground are the Hurricanes (Super Rugby), the Wellington Lions (ITM Cup - provincial rugby), and the Wellington Firebirds (domestic cricket).
Club Colours: Since its incarnation, the Wellington Phoenix strips have followed a yellow and black theme echoing the regional colours followed by other sporting codes.
Supporters: While New Zealand is best known as a rugby-mad nation, the Wellington Phoenix has managed to build a strong fan base across the country. The main supporters group is the Wellington based ‘Yellow Fever’ founded just after the Phoenix place in the A-League was announced.
Members of the Yellow Fever can often be found enjoying a pre/post-match tipple at Wellington’s iconic Backbenchers' Pub and cheering for their team in their own ‘Fever Zone’ at Westpac Stadium.
Along with supporting a variety of New Zealand charities, the Yellow Fever have also played a pivotal role in helping the emergence of young New Zealand football stars of the future.
Managers: The Wellington Phoenix has had only two managers to date. Former All White player and manager Ricki Herbert transferred from leading the New Zealand Knights to the Wellington Phoenix when the club was established in 2007.
After enjoying a thrilling era of New Zealand football that included the New Zealand All Whites unbeaten reign at the 2010 World Cup, and the Wellington Phoenix road to the A-League finals, Herbert resigned after a particularly bad run in 2013.
The position was taken up by assistant coach and former player Chris Greenacre before former Melbourne Victory manager Ernie Merrick was appointed in 2013.
Breeding Ground: As the Wellington Phoenix is currently the only professional football team in New Zealand, the importance of developing New Zealand football players cannot be underestimated.
Many of the players who featured in the All Whites' unforgettable 2010 World Cup campaign were playing for the Phoenix. Mark Paston, Ben Sigmund, Tony Lochhead, Tim Brown and Leo Bertos were all an integral part of the All Whites team who brought New Zealand football to the attention of the world.
Other former New Zealand and Wellington Phoenix players of note are Shane Smeltz (Sydney FC) and Marco Rojas (VfB Stuttgart II).
Future: The Wellington Phoenix is a team that likes to push the boundaries. In 2014 the club made history by bringing two Premier League Football clubs - West Ham United and Newcastle United - to New Zealand for the first time to play in the Football United Tour against themselves and Sydney FC.
Football in New Zealand