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It’s good to be back

Auckland Football Federation 2, Northern Based Under 17s 0
Bill McKinlay Park, Auckland, October 27 2012

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French philosopher Albert Camus once said that “time is an awkward inconvenience between football matches” and we all know what he meant. It’s been an eternity since the last non-international Auckland game I attended on August 18. In some ways we are very fortunate in New Zealand that with our top leagues playing over summer, apart from the small gap we’ve just had, we get football to enjoy all year round. Hardship is always relative though. As all our parents used to say when we refused to eat our brussel sprouts, “there are starving children in Ethiopia”, and yes, there’s always someone who has it worse than us, but in football terms we have been starving and it’s great to be able to stuff our faces once again.

Bill McKinlay Park is a great place to get back into it too. The home of five time league and seven time cup winners University Mount Wellington, the New Zealand glamour club of the 1970s and ‘80s, it’s a terrific place to watch football. Since Unimount have somewhat fallen out of fashion the old ground has started to look a bit tatty but you can still feel the history and the new artificial playing surface has given the place a new lease of life. With no Northern League or NZFC clubs playing here it’s the most underutilised football ground in Auckland so it was great to see a decent enough crowd kicking around it for this game.

The National Women’s League is an eight team competition with two conferences made up of four from the Northern and four from the Central and Southern regions. Teams play exclusively amongst their own conference until the semi-finals in early December so between now and then there will be a lot of repetition unfortunately. Although this is obviously sensible in terms of keeping costs down, it could become a bit dull for the spectator and I would imagine for the players too.

The Northern conference consists of teams representing the Northern, Auckland and Waikato Bay of Plenty football federations as well as a team made up of Northern based under 17 year olds. This match between Auckland and the Under 17s promised to be the pick of the opening round given it pitted players against each other who usually play for the same club, and it posed an interesting question. Who would be strongest? The Under 17s, a virtual New Zealand international team, or the mostly older and wiser Auckland Football Federation players who might be less naturally gifted but perhaps in possession of a point to prove.

As the score suggests, the Auckland side was superior but they didn’t have it all their own way. Goalkeeper Erin Nayler played a blinder and if it wasn’t for one or two quality saves from her the result might have been different. But it also seemed to me that the Auckland team just gelled better. The U17s looked a bit more rusty, with passes often misdirected at players who hadn’t got the memo. It will be interesting to revisit this fixture when the two sides meet again to see if anything has changed. With more games under their belts, I suspect the young ‘uns will be much more formidable opponents.

In the meantime, I enjoyed this one so much I think I’ll head along to the other Northern Conference game today, part of a double header at Fred Taylor Park. Auckland City vs Waitakere United in the Charity Cup at 2pm, WaiBOP vs Northern in the National Women’s League at 4. It’s going to be a veritable football feast! I can’t wait to get stuck in.

Categories: NZ Women's National League

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here:

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