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The art of floodlighting

Ellerslie AFC 0, Mangere United 1
Michaels Avenue, Auckland, August 2 2014

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That’s right R2, we’re going to Michaels Avenue. I’ve got a promise to keep… To an old football club.

I hate breaking promises. If I tell someone I’m going to do something, there needs to be an exceptionally good reason for me to cop out. I know from past experience that in the world of volunteer work, there is no worse a reputation to have than that of someone who commits to a task and doesn’t follow through with it, so I take it seriously when for whatever reason I have to be that person. That’s why after promising Ellerslie AFC I would be at Michaels Avenue for their heritage round a couple of weeks ago, I was really embarrassed to not be able to fulfil that promise due to a nasty flu. It went without saying that I had to get there at the next available opportunity. That opportunity was last night.

It was unacceptable really, that before this match there were only two clubs in the Northern Regional Football League that I hadn’t blogged a game from – North Force and Ellerslie. My excuse for North Force is that Whangarei is a bloody long way in the opposite direction from everyone and everything I tend to know and do in my life. My Excuse for avoiding Michaels Ave is much more pathetic than that – I don’t like night games. Ellerslie’s home games all tend to kick off at 6pm and that doesn’t really work for me to be blunt.

The reason I don’t like night games is very simple – no, I’m not afraid of the dark, well, maybe just a little, but the main reason is I can’t take a photo under lights to save myself. This tends to anger me and the more incomprehensible photos I get, the more pissed off I get, and one of these days I’m going to lose my shit completely so I try not to put myself in that situation!

But enough of that. An exception had to be made last night, and made it was without anyone having to bear witness to an Enzo tanty. Thank goodness.

My restraint had a lot to do with a rather entertaining game! I tend to catch myself writing this unfortunate cliché  a lot because it’s often the nature of football, but it really could have gone either way. Mangere were pretty dominant on the possession front and created some good chances but they were lacking a bit of sting in the tail. Ellerslie spent most of the match playing a reasonably patient and composed game, letting the visitors come at them and biding their time for the right moment to strike. It was a clash of two very different styles. Organised and orthodox vs what one has come to expect from Mangere, slightly chaotic attack minded flair, only lacking in the final execution.

I thought Ellerslie were going to win. It had that feel about it where I was waiting for them to finally get their one big chance and clinically take it, but it never really came about. Instead in the end the home side started to lose that composure they had shown earlier and began getting a bit shirty with each other at the back. I have never seen a side do this in a tight situation and go on to win, and sure enough in the last ten minutes or so they conceded a penalty. The spot kick was duly slotted by Sandeep Singh, who sent the keeper the wrong way and scooped up all three points.

All that remained after that rather enjoyable evening was to work out what the eff to do with all my rubbish photos from the night. Safe to say this was the worst contents of my SD card that I have ever returned home with, but I have taken a leaf out of the one and only Grant Stantiall’s book. Grant taught me that when you take a crap photo you put it into Photoshop, run some fancy effect through it, and pass it off as art. So that’s what I have done here. To all my shots. I think it’s abstract impressionism. Or something. Enjoy…

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 1

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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.

2 replies

  1. The sweetest dish.

    Birkenhead v Wanderers.

    Birkenhead United nearly took the title last year but are struggling to repeat that form this season. In our home game we dominated, should have won easily, but all we got was a 2-2 draw and several bunches of bananas they strangely left in the changing sheds.

    When you finally get one over the rich kid you hate, the one who has splashed mud in your face a few times, it does feel good. Especially when you tonk him on the nose 4 times. We don’t really hate Birkenhead but at times they have seemed like a bogey team for Wanderers. This time, after two losses on the trot without a goal, the 2 Wanderers coaches, Cossey and Comber, extolled their charges to strike early and hard. It reminded me of when I played a round of golf with famous author Lee Child once. He told me his hero Jack Reacher has a golden rule. “Get your retribution in first.”

    Breaking his own record for diving , cheaty Jack Hobson-McVeigh bit the ground in the very first minute. But Wanderers shrugged off this with distain and wheeled onto the attack like a squadron of Spitfires. Jarrod Young signalled his intentions with a decent early shot then nippy Wade Molony burst through on goal only to bumble his one-on-one with the gigantic Birkenhead goal stopper.

    Then new boy Federico Marquez turned on the style with feet more nimble than Michael Jackson and a touch this author hasn’t seen since the 80’s heyday of Alf Stamp (Google him). His run down the left bamboozled Birko and he drifted a lazy cross over to Young who right-footed a first time volley that smacked loudly off the post and out. It was sublime footie and really deserved better than that. But soon after this another deft pass from Marquez put Molony away again and this time he made no mistake, slotting the ball home for a well deserved Wanderers lead.

    Startled into action, the home side had a pot shot hit the post but Wanderers turned up the heat when Javier Gonzalez -he of the best first touch this side of the Camp Nou- controlled sweetly to stroked the ball to Mark Jones who hit a firm strike past the keeper for 2-0. By now Marquez was conducting proceedings like a head surgeon, and the travelling blue road show were clinically dishing out the medicine to Birko whose fans were unusually quiet.

    Just on half time a hand-ball in the box gave Jones the chance to score again and he steered home the penalty for a seemingly unbeatable half time 3-0 score line. A note to away teams; when you score at Birkenhead, bang loudly on the iron roof of their dugouts. They hate that.

    As one would expect, Birkenhead came out in the second half determined to redress the score line. A defensive mis-kick gave the home team a chance but they hit only the side net. Another attempt was cleared off the line and then a header went flying over. But generally Vlad Frank in goal was untroubled as his defence of Luque, Konings, Shaw and Pratt gave him an armchair ride. Captain for the day, Frank was fulsome in his praise. “The boys made it easy for me. A great defensive performance.” A Birkenhead bloke was moved to ask me after the game. “Does your man Shaw eat razor blades for breakfast and why doesn’t that tall guy with the funny hair (Konings) ever lose a ball?”

    Wanderers exerted more pressure as the match wore on and sub Sunny Singh turned well but his shot radar was off and he failed to convert.

    Then it was the turn of Young to hit the woodwork again with a fierce shot and Jones went within inches of a hat trick when he cannoned the follow-up off the bar as well.

    But a Alexi Varela contribution sealed the deal when he hit a superb long ball to Singh who this time controlled well and slid his shot in for the final score if 4-0. Singh’s first goal for some time and maybe proof that his best contribution to the team might be as a speedy substitute.

    Lee Child himself couldn’t have scripted a better story as far as the Wanderers boys were concerned. And next week, the first home game for 10 weeks, will hopefully see a sequel for the Blue Army.

    Kind regards



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