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Habemus Papam

Claudelands Rovers 9, Norwest United 1
Galloway Park, Hamilton, May 25 2014

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Bah humbug. That’s how I felt watching all the excitement around the UEFA Champions League Final this morning. Like many other Kiwi footballaholics I forewent my Sunday sleep-in to watch the Madrid derby play out on television – yes, that’s right – television! There was actually a live game that was worth watching on New Zealand TV, which was why I watched it as much as anything. It was all good fun while Atletico was winning, but then the bourgeoisie won out, the proletarian ‘Mattress Makers’ were vanquished, and that really sucked. I hate it when the bad guys win!

All was not lost however because before Ronaldo had even finished flexing, I had picked myself up from that mere entrée and started heading down to my childhood home town to get myself a nice big serving of main course. Keep your big stadia, shove your television coverage and stick your naked Ronaldo chest because there was REAL football to watch in Hamilton! There my favourite Women’s Premier team were at home in a Women’s Knockout Cup clash that would see the winner advance to the quarter finals.

It was great to be back in the WaiBOP region for the second week in a row today, and this time it was not for family business that happily coincided with a game. Today the game was the main event and a pretty good event it was too, if you’re a fan of Claudelands Rovers (which of course I am). Their opponents today, Norwest United, were always facing an uphill battle as a non-Northern League side up against one of our country’s top women’s clubs, but nonetheless in the fine tradition of cup underdogs they gave a fair account of themselves for the vast majority of the match.

The first thing I noticed upon arrival and grabbing a copy of the Claudelands team sheet off the officials was a very welcome sight on the bench. Sarah McLaughlin was named amongst the reserves for the first time since she did her ACL last year. I understand she was never in any danger of actually playing in the game but nonetheless may only be a few weeks away from a genuine return. This is great news indeed! Aside from that it was a strong looking Claudelands line-up including plenty of strike power up front with internationals Olivia Chance and Helen Collins also present and accounted for.

Having said that though, it did take a while for the red attack to find their range. Collins in particular found herself in a few good spots, but the radar was unusually not quite calibrated. That was, until the 17th minute or thereabouts when she bagged her first of four. She had two before half time with Chance grabbing the other to make for an encouragingly slim 3-0 deficit for Norwest that allowed the visitors to feel like there was still something to play for. The reality was however that they had only managed one Nicole Cooper shot on goal the entire half so if they were going to find a way back, first they needed some possession… That’s why when I was asked on Twitter at half time what the chances were of a Norwest comeback, I replied that there was more chance of me being elected Pope!

After the break however I was momentarily moved to ponder whether or not the Holy See might frown upon me getting a season ticket for the Curva Sud while I’m there, because miraculously, with their second shot on goal of the match, Norwest pulled one back via Rhea Hornby and maybe, just maybe, you might all have had to start calling me Your Holiness! Normal service quickly resumed however. After Rebecca Brown made it 4-1, Helen Collins grabbed her hat trick, Kate Loye made it six and then the floodgates really opened with Kylie Jens, a fourth for Collins and Tessa Leong finishing things off.

I am duty bound to follow Claudelands now and look forward to their quarter final against whoever it is they draw next. Back to men’s football next weekend and continuing the same process of following the winner of my last game with the Chatham Cup as well. I am now on the trail of Mount Albert Ponsonby, who I watched beat Bucklands Beach in the last round. To my great excitement they have drawn a re-match of this game, which will give me a great angle for my post!

Until then, habemus Papam! And praise God it’s not me…

Categories: NZ Women's KO 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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