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Peace in our time!

Albany United 1, Hamilton Wanderers 5
Rosedale Park, Auckland, June 3 2013

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This game wasn’t my first Chatham Cup choice this weekend. I was initially intending to take in Air Force vs Glenfield Rovers at Whenuapai Air Base, which seemed like an interesting and different cup experience. I had plenty of terrible puns about ‘flying high’, crosses bombed into the penalty area and shots like tracer bullets all ready to go, but alas, I failed to take account of the security issues with getting into an operational military zone. Despite the entirety of the New Zealand armed forces basically consisting of a couple of inflatable rafts, a paper dart, and a small child with a slingshot, the border control was something akin to crossing through the Berlin Wall. The result of this was as I couldn’t get past Checkpoint Charlie, there was a need to hastily consult the draw, find the nearest alternative game and hightail it over there inside the 20 minutes left before all the kicks-off.

The lucky winner of this unconventional method of selecting my weekend football venue was the ten minute drive away Rosedale Park, where Division 2 cellar dwellers Albany United were taking on Premier Division high flyers (ooh look I used it after all) Hamilton Wanderers. On paper this wasn’t likely to be much of a contest and the final score reflects that but the game itself wasn’t quite that clear cut.

Wanderers dominated possession and certainly deserved the win but it didn’t necessarily have to be that way. Early in the match, they looked like they wanted to produce a cricket score in the first half alone and were guilty, I thought, of trying to force it a little bit too much. In their haste they left themselves vulnerable to the counterattack, but luckily for them Albany were unable to take advantage. Nonetheless the home side created a handful of quality opportunities, two or three of which should have been put away, and thus they should really have had at least three goals. Had that been the case, they may have been more determined not to ship five. These things go both ways of course though and the visitors also squandered a few.

The goals were all lovely to watch, the atmosphere was nice, the clubrooms had excellent bacon and egg pies (can’t imagine the Air Force putting those on), but I can’t get past the disappointment of not being able to attend the game I actually wanted to see. This is our national cup competition and the showpiece of our domestic football calendar. Did I miss some kind of advisory from New Zealand Football that one of the games was closed to the public? Given there is a golf course on the outskirts of the base that one doesn’t need code-word clearance or higher to play on, I believe it was reasonable to assume there is also a similarly accessible football ground. That not being the case, could the game not have usefully been played a mere two minutes’ drive away at the relatively hassle free venue that is Fred Taylor Park?

Even more pertinently, has someone forgotten to tell the Air Force that the Cold War is over? Did they think that I would sneak off at half time and let the tyres down on their biplane?

These questions and more will be answered next year when I ask the visiting club to sneak me on in one of their kitbags…

Categories: NZ Chatham Cup

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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