After 36 years it has come down to one shot - a crack at world gold.

The Wanganui Cosmos treks north to Auckland tomorrow to prepare for its first match on Saturday in search of gold in the 2017 World Masters Games (WMG) football arena.

Made up of players with an average age of early-to-mid 60s - and even a couple rapidly closing in on 70 - the Cosmos has opted to compete in the younger 55+ open grade division where it will be the only New Zealand side.

Cosmos will be shaping up against three sides from Canada, two from Australia and an Italian X1, all seeking the Holy Grail - world masters gold.


Cosmos does have WMG history winning silver at the 2002 WMG in Melbourne. It has also tasted international competition at Australasian, Pan Pacific and New Zealand masters, including both Wanganui and alternate years in Dunedin.

Founded in 1981 by good mates and self-confessed football fanatics Bryan Stewart and Trevor Strong, the Cosmos was made up of players from the Athletic Club in Wanganui nearing their use-by-dates.

"Trevor and I, along with a few other players, were getting on a bit and sick of chasing teenagers and 20-year-olds round, so we formed Cosmos and played mainly in the local league," Stewart said.

"We were pretty much unbeatable in the local league. It was also about the same time as Wanganui started hosting a nationwide over 35 tournament that catered for serious and social grade teams - we were pretty successful there too."

But is at masters level Cosmos has really made its mark as the players progressed through the age groups over the years.

"We have a bunch of medals, including heaps of gold, heaps of silver and even the occasional bronze. Out name came about through the great Pele. He was playing for the
New York Cosmos and they were winning everything at the time."

Buoyed by much success at masters level, Cosmos is going in battle in Auckland confident of at least a podium finish, if not gold itself.

"We have experience playing Australians and even Canadians, although they do have three teams, but the Italians and very much an unknown force," Stewart said.

"Given our age it will more than likely be a swansong for many of us and WMG gold has so far eluded us, so will be going hard."

For most Cosmos players, "going hard" also means a strong presence soaking up the WMG social atmosphere at the Entertainment Hub.

"We will earn it though," Stewart said.

"We arrive Friday and our first match is against the Canadian Strikers at 9.15am Saturday morning. We then have a game everyday until Thursday when the play-offs start. We'll be ready for a beer pretty much after each match."

Cosmos co-founder Trevor Strong has a head start on his team mates spending his lead-up time on beaches in Fiji.

"No doubt he will turn up tanned, but ready to go," Stewart said.