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Not again!!!!

Waitakere City 2, Melville United 1
Fred Taylor Park, Auckland, April 3 2015

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“Here we go Charlie Brown! I’ll hold the ball, and you come running up and kick it!”

Charlie Brown fell for Lucy’s football trick for the very first time in the ‘Peanuts’ cartoon on November 16, 1952. Once a year, every year except 1984, 1985, and 1990, until the strip finished in 2000, Charles M. Schulz would pen his last cartoon of the year depicting Lucy finding a different way to trick Charlie Brown into thinking this time she wouldn’t pull the ball away. But every year without fail the ball would be pulled away and Charlie Brown would end up flat on his back. This was a pretty memorable illustration of the old Albert Einstein quote that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Apparently I am a very slow learner.

Of all the games to choose today, why would I choose Waitakere City vs Melville United at Fred Taylor Park? Insanity is the only possible diagnosis. But that’s only part of a question so bewildering that it could probably form the basis of an MA thesis. The real odd bit is, having chosen this ritual flogging, why wouldn’t I do so knowing that it’s not going to be a good day for the Waikato side, accepting the inevitability of the outcome, entirely at peace and fully emotionally equipped to just go with the flow?

Well, to start with I was, but then just like a Peanuts comic strip both Waitakere City and Melville managed to convince me that another outcome was possible.

It all started off according to the usual script. John Muchirahondo gave Waitakere the lead inside the first 5-10 minutes with a long range effort that curled its way over the outstretched arm of Melville keeper Jason Mann who was off his line. Business as usual for a Melville side that conceded six goals at home to Bay Olympic last week.

Waitakere continued to dominate possession and time in the opposition third for a while, but over the rest of the first half Melville slowly but surely clawed their way back into the contest. By half time they had had a couple of good chances of their own, most notably a Kieran Frewen effort that just missed the top of the crossbar from a good position after he did well to shake off his marker.

With the score 1-0 at half time however, I was still in cruise mode. It felt like Melville still had some serious improvements to make before this was a game they could conceivably win. Then, both sides came out from the sheds and turned on an absolute stunner of a second half of football.

It started with two great chances for Waitakere to extend their advantage – one from the boot and a second from a free header that both missed the target – but not by much. Then it was Melville’s turn to venture into the opposition penalty area, and on this occasion they got their reward when the referee pointed at the spot. Frewen’s conversion wasn’t the best but the keeper fumbled his chance to save and the ball bobbled its way over the line.

From that point, either side could easily have knocked in three. Chances ricocheted off crossbars and keepers made strong saves at both ends. The arm wrestle oscillated this way and that and it was at this stage that I managed to delude myself into thinking that the game could go either way.

Of course the reality was there was only going to be one outcome. In an absolute carbon copy of my last visit to ‘The Fred’, the victory was seized by Waitakere in the very last moments of the game with one of the very last acts of the match. Jason Mann pulled off a mammoth save that parried a thunderous Waitakere shot over the crossbar, but then the resulting corner found the noggin of Paul Rhodes and in it went.

And with that, for the second time in six weeks, I found myself staring intently at the Fred Taylor Park grass and holding an intense debrief with the local sandfly population for a good ten minutes after the final whistle.

Do you think I have learned my lesson?

If past behaviour is anything to go by, it hardly seems likely.

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Premier

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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