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A cruel game

Fencibles United 1, Papakura City 1
Riverhills Park, August 30 2014

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It was the penultimate day of winter and neither Mother Nature nor the football gods seemed of a mind to cut anyone any slack in Auckland’s East on Saturday.

It seems as though I have a way of turning up to witness Papakura’s darkest moments. I promise it’s not on purpose! This is the third time in three years I have seen this club miss out on a promotion. The last two times were in play-offs for re-entry into the Northern League. Now that they have finally made it back after lodging a protest that overturned their last play-off defeat against AFC Fury, they have proven their worth in Division 2, spending most of the year in pole position for promotion to Division 1. Going into this match, they were level on points with fourth placed nearby South Auckland rivals Waiuku, but ahead on goal difference. A win against the until now poorly performing Fencibles, who had nothing left to play for, was all that was required to seal their rapid ascent to new heights.

Speaking of heights though, this wasn’t the highest quality game I’ve seen this year. Overall I thought Fencibles deserved their draw. The home side certainly dominated the first half. Whether it was nerves, or whether they turned up thinking they would win it easily, Kura looked fairly lacklustre at times as they gave away far too much cheap possession and should have counted themselves rather fortunate not to be trailing by more than the one they did at the break. They looked better in the second half but they didn’t really wake up until towards the end of the game, finding their equaliser, then peppering the Fencibles goal but by that time it was too late. Try as they might they couldn’t find the late winner despite one shot hitting the crossbar and bouncing down awfully close to the goal line to give them some cause to count themselves unfortunate.

There were two things I noted in the immediate aftermath of the game that I didn’t like very much.

The Papakura supporter who was yelling some pretty horrible abuse towards what I interpreted as his own players (but whoever it was he was yelling at it was still disgusting) caused me to lose a measure of sympathy for Kura that I had felt up to that point. I suspect that person knows who he is and, if he happens to read this, I hope he might reflect on his behaviour.

The second thing is I fail to understand why a lower mid-table team who has just ruined another club’s season would feel the need to be quite so… pleased with themselves. Yes, yes, you caused a great upset, but there was absolutely no need to rub it into the clearly deeply upset Papakura faces. In my sickly white PC liberal opinion a little bit more decorum would have reflected much better on the home team and their club. The only thing worse than a sore loser is an obnoxious winner.

With that bleat out of the way, the winter season is almost done for the year and congratulations are due to a few clubs!

Starting from the bottom, we now know who the three new NRFL clubs will be next season! Two of them are from Auckland’s working class heartlands with the return of South Auckland’s Manukau City AFC bouncing straight back up following last season’s relegation, along with my Westie brethren Te Atatu AFC, beaten play-off finalists two seasons ago. And from the sunny Bay of Plenty, of course, we will have the one… the only… Monsieur David Cook with his AFC Fury, who finally earned their place in the Northern League in emphatic fashion by blitzing the field in the WaiBOP Fereration 1 league. Commiserations to Warkworth who will play in the Conference next season.

Sadly for Mr Cook, he won’t get to meet his arch nemesis, Tauranga City United, in Division 2. The team from Links Avenue are going up, along with a Forrest Hill Milford side who are finally back on the rise after slipping all the way down from the top tier, and good old Waiuku who defeated Warkworth yesterday to snatch that third spot out of Papakura’s cold dead hands. Both Manurewa and Papatoetoe have two games left to see which of them will find themselves relegated to Division 2 next year.

Going up to the Premier Division from Division 1 are Eastern Suburbs and Western Springs. One other will join them – one of Ellerslie, Hibiscus Coast or Melville. Ellerslie sit in pole position but have no more points to earn, Melville have two games in hand and can seal promotion with two big wins, while Hibiscus Coast have just the one game left which they will need to win and hope either to improve their GD or that Melville slips up. Ngaruawahia will be back down in Division 1 in 2015.

Forrest Hill Milford only need a point from their next three games to wrap up Women’s Premier.

Well done to all those going up! Commiserations to all those going down. Whichever category you fall into, or even if you are a mid-table plodder, one thing’s for sure, football never ends and I’ll see you all next year.


Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 2

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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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