NZ Under 17 Selection 0, Mainland Pride 3
Northern Football 4, Football South 0
Parrs Park, Auckland, October 13 2013
Ordinarily there’s not much to celebrate when it comes to being a football fan in this country. There was a time in the lead-up to a recent World Cup, when Antarctica and New Zealand were the only two pieces of dry land in the entire world where the games were not going to be shown on television, until Sky came to the party and secured the rights at the last minute, as almost always. Football fans get treated with utter disdain here by the other 95% of the general public. We’re the lowest of the low, bottom of the pile, beneath contempt, the pond scum of the sporting pecking order. But there is one thing we have got that nobody else has – a little thing called zero offseason! That’s right my international readers, we have football 52 weeks of the year, every year, and you don’t. Beat that! You can’t. So there.
So as the winter season ends* with last week’s Northern Regional Football League promotion play-off, the summer** season begins this week with the opening double header of the ASB Women’s League.
I have to say, although I know this is not going to win me too many popularity contests, that with this new truly national format that sees last year’s Northern and Southern Conferences banished to the dustbin of history, and the absolute quality of some of the names spread across the eight squad lists, this, not the ASB Premiership, is now New Zealand’s premier summer football competition.
This is reflected in my schedule of games I plan to visit each weekend for the next two months. A fortnight ago I looked at each weekend’s fixture list for both women’s and men’s national leagues between now and December, and chose each destination on its merits with no particular prejudice in mind. Then, when I sat back and looked at the end result, I found that I’m exclusively watching the Women’s League from now until November 23. I thought: “no, I can’t do that, I believe in gender equality”, so I went back over the ASB Premiership fixtures to find a token men’s game to throw in so as not to appear so much of a raving feminist. But I couldn’t, for the life of me, find a men’s game in that timeframe that I could give two hoots about. So I left it how it is.
Because the reality is, the Women’s League looks like an interesting spectator’s competition with evenly matched teams and none that stand out as likely to run away with the title. I want to know what is going to happen, and I want to watch it happen. Unlike with the ASB Premiership, where everyone knows exactly who is going to win it before we even start.
I will be covering some ASB Premiership games, of course. But not many until the Women’s League is done and dusted, I’m afraid.
As for today, well, others will give you a much better blow-by-blow account of what went down than I can in the word quota that’s left after the above rant. All I’ll say is, Mainland were good – very good. The addition of Annalie Longo looks to have strengthened their squad considerably and I reckon last year’s semi-finalists will do at least as well again. The U17s meanwhile are obviously a development side, and while they held their own most of the time, the Cantabrians simply had too much class.
The other game wasn’t as high quality, somewhat surprisingly. Northern Football, last season’s champions, still boast an impressive line-up of players (as well as a very fetching kit emblazoned in finest Palermo colours!) but they looked a bit flat today. They were slow starters last year, so perhaps they will take time to get into their work again. They will certainly be happy to play so poorly and still win 4-0! Football South on the other hand definitely have a bit of work to do and may struggle all season if today was anything to go on. I don’t believe I’ve seen any of their squad play before so have to give them the benefit of the doubt at this stage and hope it was just an off-day.
In other results today, Auckland fell to Capital 3-0 in Wellington and WaiBOP snatched a last minute equaliser to draw 2-2 with Central. Next Sunday, at 1pm, I’ll be in Cambridge for WaiBOP vs Capital – So. Should. You! Unless you live in Whangarei, in which case you should check out Northern Football vs the U17s at Toll Stadium, same kick-off time. If you’re in Christchurch, Mainland plays Central on the turf of ASB Football Park at 2pm, and in Dunedin you can and should see whether Football South or Auckland can redeem themselves at the Caledonian Ground at midday. If you are inside the territorial waters of New Zealand and not at one of those four places next Sunday, then you’d better bloody well have a note from home because this is compulsory viewing if you call yourself a football fan.
And that’s that.
*Maybe not quite ended – there’s a rumour that Auckland Football Federation are investigating an allegation that Fury fielded an ineligible player…
**Still freezing cold and drizzly FYI
Categories: NZ Women's National League
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.