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The artists formerly known as Papamoa

Bay of Plenty 0, Papatoetoe AFC  6
Gordon Spratt Reserve, Papamoa, May 18 2014

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Other commitments this past weekend saw my football choices rather significantly restricted down to one window of opportunity on Sunday. During a family trip to Tauranga I was able to slip away to sunny Papamoa for a couple of hours and reacquaint myself with Gordon Spratt Reserve, where there was a bottom of the table NRFL Women’s Premier match to take in. Not that I have any complaints about this lack of options! Here were two teams that I always enjoy watching in different ways, and besides, fights for wooden spoons can often produce thrillers! Of course, often when I describe games as “potential thrillers” in this way, I need to follow it up with “but sadly not on this occasion…” However this time I don’t feel compelled to do-so. Not because this was a close game, but because sometimes thrills aren’t just about even contests.

Bay of Plenty are a development side that exists at least partly to nurture players who might otherwise be lost to the region or the game if they had to travel to Hamilton or further afield to play at this level. With players as young as 13, they are very much learning the game by being thrown in at the deep end with the theory that results don’t matter too much, it’s more about players getting the experience. I do enjoy checking Bay of Plenty out occasionally, not necessarily to witness an even contest, but more to see how the players are progressing and to stimulate thought about the different ways players are developed.

If you look at their raw stats so far this year, it tells a demoralising tale of 3 goals scored and 33 conceded. So after 6 matches, they are shipping an average of 5.5 goals per game. But to leave it there would be to ignore the long term trend. They only went down 3-1 to Westerrn Springs a couple of weeks ago, and even more impressively they only lost 2-0 to high flyers Glenfield Rovers in round 2. Results like that would have been unthinkable two seasons ago. When you take a look at the two other times I have covered them for this blog (back when they were known as Papamoa FC), we can see a firm development pattern emerging. The first game I saw was an 11-0 demolition by Claudelands Rovers two years ago. The second was an 8-0 thumping by Fencibles. Add in today’s 6-0 result, consider it in context with those other promising scores from earlier this season, and there is no doubt they are improving.

Papatoetoe are a better side than their second-to-bottom table position going into this match suggests. They have produced some nice results of their own, of which the highlight was a 2-1 win over a solid Fencibles operation. Above all though, I always enjoy Papatoetoe because they seem like a really cool bunch of ladies who look like they enjoy their football and are super nice to interact with, so it’s great to see them get a good morale boosting win that propels them up to 8th on the ladder. But when you consider the tender young age of their opposition, of course they should have won and won well.

For me, there’s no need to dwell on the specifics of the game. This was simply a lovely afternoon’s football in the sun. The only thing that soured it slightly was the teenage hoons on their pathetic little moped who thought they were clever zooming around the park making a hell of a racket and tearing up the adjacent pitch not to mention the nearby sand dunes. Needless to say photos were taken complete with number plates, registration stickers, handiwork and stupid helmetless grins. There’s no point getting older if you can’t be a typical fuddy duddy and dob in a few little snots every once in a while! So the day had that going for it as well…

As for next week, it’ll be more female action out of Auckalnd! It’s Women’s Knockout Cup time again and it’s only fair that I do what I’m doing with the men and keep following whoever won the last tie I attended. That means Claudelands vs Norwest and probably another cricket score… But of course, as we have learned above, that doesn’t mean there won’t be thrills. On this occasion, namely heaps of Helen Collins goal photos!

Categories: NZ Northern Women's Premier

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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: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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