Team Wellington 0, Canterbury United 1
Wellington Phoenix 0, Central Coast Mariners 1
Westpac Stadium, Wellington, November 11 2012
Luckily I didn’t fly all the way down to Wellington solely for these two football games. I came for a work trip that happily coincided with last weekend’s big Wellington double header. Team Wellington vs Canterbury United in the ASB Premiership acted as the curtain raiser for the Phoenix vs the Central Coast Mariners in the A-League but both games were pretty dire. The saddest thing about this is that the earlier fixture was the first regular season national league game in quite some time to be televised. Not sure the viewers will be crying out for more of the same.
I’ve heard a lot of complaints that the earlier game was not publicised very well… and I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but with a crowd no bigger than they would have got at a small club ground in suburban Wellington, they should probably have stuck to playing it at a small club ground in suburban Wellington. I have a pet dislike when it comes to modest football crowds rattling around in large stadia. It doesn’t work. The ASB premiership is a great product in its own right and unless you are going to do a proper marketing job, it’s best enjoyed in its natural habitat – the little grounds are where the romance is at. The great atmosphere tends to paper over the cracks of the occasional lower quality game.
As for the ‘Nix, they were bright enough in patches but looked like they are still finding their combinations with a fair few new players coming into the squad and getting plenty of game time in the early stages of the season. For that reason even though they’ve been pretty uninspiring the last couple of weeks, I think they’ll come right given time. Some people in the seats around me were overheard calling for coach Rickie Herbert’s head during the course of the match. For feck’s sake! Am I forever destined to support football teams with ingrates for fans? The man has sacrificed so much for this club and taken it so far. Who do they think they can bring in who will do a better job?
Never mind that though, seeing as though the footy wasn’t much chop I thought I’d blog about post-loss comfort food instead. The post-game pasta feed is often the highlight of my trips to Wellington but this time even more so. If you are ever at a Phoenix game, there is no better place for a football lover’s debrief than at the restaurant of former New Zealand international midfielder Raf de Gregorio – Pizzeria Napoli. Located at 30 Courtney Place, it has a fab atmosphere, in my opinion greatly enhanced by a wonderful mural of a Neapolitan street scene on the wall, the highlight of which is a small boy kicking a ball in a Napoli shirt with ‘Maradona’ on his back. Wicked cute. But more importantly the selection of Italian wines is first rate and the food is mostly authentic.
Although most people will tell you not to go past the calzone, I personally love the Conchiglia Carne and for desert if the white chocolate and limoncello tiramisu is available and you don’t try it you deserve to be beaten with large multi-pronged garden implements. Raf is a fantastic host and always keen for a yarn about football if he’s not too otherwise engaged. It’s the perfect place to celebrate a great victory or in this case drown your sorrows in Nero d’Avola after a double dose of football porridge. And that’s all I have to say about that.
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: http://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/