WaiBOP United 2, Team Wellington 1
John Kerkhof Park, Cambridge, January 31 2015
For the last couple of days, I have been pondering the subject of birthday presents. How memorable are they as a general rule? ‘Not very’ is my tentative conclusion. I remember the beautiful wooden chest/coffee table that I got for my 21st birthday. I think I got a toaster and some golf shoes that same year… Apart from that, I can’t recall a single birthday present from my childhood. I know I got plenty, but can’t place any 30+/- years later. I’d blame poor memory but the truth is I can’t even remember anything I got last year… Did Gina and I go out for dinner? We must have.
Somewhat surprisingly, no matter how hard I wrack my brains, I can only think of three presents since I turned 1. Yet, somehow, something tells me that 30 years from now I will still remember that WaiBOP United gave me two awesome goals, a saved penalty, and a huge upset victory against top of the table Team Wellington for my 39th birthday.
There are so many things that I am confident will make this birthday more memorable than any other for years to come.
First of all, I will always remember the slightly comical (although not for him!) situation of WaiBOP coach Peter Smith watching the game from the back of the stands. This was his punishment for “clapping sarcastically” at the ref last week. No, that’s not a typo – it’s absolutely the official reason.
And a damn good thing too! Because if this sort of seditious clappy behaviour is not stamped out now, what next? Societal decay – that’s what! Clapping is a known gateway crime to more serious misdemeanours such as pointing and speaking with a slightly elevated voice. And once that kind of nonsense develops, weeeeell we all know what’s coming. Coaches will be completing drug deals and turning tricks right there on the sideline! Then the cops will get involved, and that will create all sorts of messy paperwork that’s best avoided. This is why we must stand strong! Tough on clapping, and tough on the causes of clapping.
In addition I am likely to remember, for quite some time, that WaiBOP United went a goal down very early in this game, when Luis Corrales latched onto a Michael Gwyther pass that drew keeper Danyon Drake right off his line gifting the Wellington attacking player an easy tap in. I will remember thinking at that point that it was going to be a veeeeery loooooooong afternoon. Although, this will probably be the least memorable thing because this is what happens at a lot of WaiBOP games I attend…
BUT, on this occasion, I will also gratefully remember the fact that it wasn’t a deserved deficit for WaiBOP. They had been playing really well even at that early stage and by most measures they were bossing the game apart from that one unfortunate defensive lapse. I will remember lots and lots of chances to even up the score, particularly from a rampaging Federico Marquez who’s Spanish swearing got louder and louder with each goal scoring opportunity either missed or saved by a determined Team Wellington keeper! That was, until justice was finally served. A Craig Wylie free kick ricocheted off the wall and in to restore the equilibrium.
Then I’ll remember, decades from now, that sinking feeling of a penalty being awarded against your team when they had only just managed to deservedly get back on level terms, blissfully followed by the sort of elation that only comes when your keeper stops one! Danyon Drake made up for his earlier mistake by diving to his left to meet a poorly hit strike, spectacularly swatting it away.
I’ll also remember, whether it’s true or not (it will be in my mind) that WaiBOP never really looked like losing from that point on. Especially when they took the lead in first half stoppage time when Marquez got himself into a one-on-one situation with the keeper and made no mistake. 2-1 was the half time score.
The main thing I’ll remember about the second half is it seemed to last about six hours, with the last five minutes taking up about three of those. WaiBOP didn’t make it look too easy at times by giving away some cheap possession. At one particular moment when Chad Coombes took a beautifully positioned free kick right on the edge of the penalty area over to the corner flag to try and waste some time only to give possession straight back to Wellington… Well, let’s just say it was at that point I reached peak anxiety.
Fortunately my stress was all in vain and when the 34 years of injury time the fourth official added on at the end of the game was over, the three shrill blasts of the whistle, as with any game like that, formed the sweetest memories of all.
How could anyone possibly forget any of that? It’s sure to live on in my mind as the best birthday ever. I can’t imagine anything that might top it. Except maybe a repeat performance against Auckland City.
Categories: NZ Men's National League
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.