Glenfield Rovers 6, East Coast Bays 3
McFetridge Park, Auckland, August 23 2014
An extra special guard of honour greeted Glenfield Rovers as they entered the McFetridge Park arena yesterday, that marked a real changing of the guard. East Coast Bays, last season’s champions of the Northern Regional Football League, New Zealand’s best club football league, lined the entrance to the pitch to pay tribute to their usurpers, new and worthy champions. Glenfield had won the division the previous Sunday without kicking a ball when their arch rivals Birkenhead United did them a favour by ending the challenge of Bay Olympic, the only team who up until that point still had a mathematical chance of stopping the black and golds.
Last year Birkenhead only missed out on the title by the slimmest of margins – goal difference – the season immediately following their promotion from division one. But this time it was Glenfield’s time. The other half of Auckland’s fiercest rivalry went one better than their local foes managed to and lifted the prized trophy at the culmination of their first season back in the premier league. And deservedly so. Despite rumours of players being well paid for their services or whatever else you might want to throw at them, the fact remains that Glenfield were the most consistent team across the division. Amassing 13 wins, three draws and just a single loss and in doing so notching up victories over everyone else in the competition at least once, with a games to spare they proved that however they came together they are the best in the league – no arguments.
With the league all done, dusted and decided before this game kicked off, it was tempting to think that attendance might not be worth the shoe rubber worn off by walking from the car to the side-line given nobody had anything left to play for. Buzzzzzzzzz – WRONG. Of course they did. The Glenfield players were getting presented with the trophy at the end of the match so they wanted that to follow a victory, and for both teams it was still a derby. Not a rivalry that matches Glenfield vs Birko, but a North Shore derby none the less. Both these sides wanted to win and better still, had little to lose. This made for a fairly open and attacking contest with plenty of thrills and spills to hold one’s interest.
I must confess to being slightly disappointed with the crowd though. It was a gloriously fine sunny day and I would have expected a few more in the house to bear witness to a marvelous occasion. If you were thinking of coming but ultimately decided to watch Home and Away repeats instead, here’s what you missed: 9 goals, at least three of them absolute stunners (two screamers from outside the box by Glenfield’s Andrew Milne and some wonderfully deft footwork by East Coast Bays’ Mario Hoffman that briefly took the score to 4-3), some tanties thrown at the ref, some spectacular tackling, end to end action, a golden boot sealing double from Michael Gwyther to take his season tally to 17, a trophy presentation, and champagne, champagne and more champagne sprayed all over the show. Feel a bit ill knowing you missed out on all that? You should, it was pretty cool.
The sad thing about it is, barring a few catch-up games that’s the season over for the top flight. Thankfully there is still plenty of action to come in the lower leagues and across in Women’s Premier before summer football starts all over again! Who says New Zealand is not the best place in the world to be a football fan?
Categories: NZ Northern Men's Premier
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.