Papatoetoe AFC 3, Ngaruawahia United 2
Murdoch Park, Auckland, August 18 2012
Winter is almost over and with it, just as the cold and flu season is replaced by flies and mosquitos buzzing around your head, the club football season is drawing to a close to be replaced by New Zealand’s premier football competition, the NZFC (summer league).
The official final rounds of the Premier, Women’s Premier, and Divisions 1 and 2 of the Northern League have now been played. All that remains are catch-up fixtures, many of them meaningless, to be prattled through in the next 2-3 weeks. With one or two exceptions, the trophies have already been lifted, we know who is going up and down, and all that’s left to play for is the shirt. But that’s not nothing and as we saw today, these games can still be full of passion if players choose to take them seriously.
I have been to three previous Ngaruawahia games this season. The first, their opening round clash with Birkenhead, was to be honest so I could check out an old friend of the family who was playing left back. I enjoyed that so much I went to their league game at Mount Albert Ponsonby shortly after, without the camera and with no intention to blog it so I could concentrate properly on the match. I loved that so much that when choosing a first round Chatham Cup tie to go to, their tie with Takapuna stood out. And now today, with the season all but over and the family friend not playing due to a busted ankle, I still turned my nose up at some more illustrious fixtures on paper to get along and see how ‘good old Ngara’ have progressed over the course of the whole season.
The answer to that question is exceptionally well. I said after the newly promoted side’s 2-0 first-up loss that despite their nervy performance, the signs were there that they were more than capable of winning more games than they lose. As things stand now, they have won 6, drawn 5 and lost 9. They still have two catch-up games left so best case scenario my prediction was a win or two off. I can live with that. Their place at this level is confirmed for next season and despite the loss of a couple of very good players to season long injuries, they have improved out of site.
Today the Green Machine played the vast bulk of the football, especially in the first half when they were unlucky to concede two goals against the run of play. Papatoetoe’s second half goal came from a counter attack and despite shipping three goals, Ngara were in this fixture right until the end. The match was played with a wee bit of niggle and the ref had to break up a couple of fracas. I would never condone violence in football but it was good to see both sides pouring their all into a game that was never very likely to have any impact whatsoever on the table. Both these two great clubs will finish in well-deserved mid-table positions.
All that’s left to say is roll on season 2013, when my next prediction is that with a great consolidation year behind them, the boys from the home of Maori royalty will be right in the mix for promotion to the Premier League!
Next weekend I’ll be in Wellington covering the Women’s Knockout Cup and Chatham Cup finals. With all the travel time it might take me a few extra days to get the posts up. Bear with me if there are tumbleweeds rolling through here in between times… Keep checking back, I’ll get there in the end!
Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 1
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.