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Takapuna 4, Ngaruawahia United 0
Taharoto Park, Auckland, April 4 2015

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When asked which NRFL club I support, my answer is always that I love all Waikato football clubs equally – but Ngaruawahia is more equal than the others.

Love can often be hard work. Objects of your affection are always putting you to the test to see how much you really love them. Football teams especially. And the most testing times are often these things we know as ‘rebuilding phases’. A rebuilding phase, as all fans know, is a dreaded time when for whatever reason your team have lost a whole lot of players and has to start again with new ones.

These periods in the life of a club can last for a season, or they can last for decades (e.g. Manchester City). During such a time, as a fan, you have to get used to holding different expectations. If you’re a Manchester United supporter, instead of winning the English Premier League you might have to accept that Champions League football will be hard to come by for a season or two. If you’re a fan of a less well-heeled outfit, it might mean getting used to the idea of dropping a division or two and starting again from scratch.

Whatever happens during these difficult stretches – relegation, insolvency, your biggest hero moving on – the most important thing is that, as a fan, you stay true to the cause.

Looking on the bright side, some fans actually welcome such trials and tribulations! It sorts out the wheat from the chaff. The bandwagon jumpers from the true fans. And not only that, but there is something to be said for roughing it! Winning all the time makes you soft. There’s no romance in it.

Going through a bit of a rough patch for a while never hurt anyone! Yeah, right…

If fans had a say in the matter, of course we would never choose to go through a rebuilding phase. They are things that can’t be avoided. All we can do is make the best we can of the situation.

It was with this in mind that I braced myself for my first glimpse of the Ngaruawahia team sheet today. It was quite a sobering experience even knowing beforehand that there wouldn’t be many familiar faces. As it happened, Ryan Kerr-Bell and Matt Williams were the only two names I recognised. This provided a pretty understandable explanation for the 7-2 home loss to Mangere United last week. It immediately felt like this would very much be one of those seasons that tests the love of a fan for their team.

This feeling was confirmed by the game that followed. Not the most inspiring 90 minutes of football from either side it has to be said. A very comfortable cruise to victory by Takapuna, but one that was only really brought to life by the occasional bit of niggle in the first half as some ragged tackling produced some colourful responses!

The first goal came quite early when Ngaruawahia keeper Kevin Walker was drawn right off his line to meet Tom Miller on the right side of the penalty area who, cool as you like, floated it past to give the home side the early lead. Then a Ryan Kerr-Bell tackle on Tom Holbutt caused the referee to point to the spot. There was a bit of wailing and gnashing of teeth from some Ngara players and supporters at that point but my photos seem to confirm that Kerr-Bell was nowhere near the ball. Tom Damon converted and 2-0 was the half time score.

The second half was all a bit of a snooze with nobody really grabbing the game by the short and curlies. It meandered along until my slumber was broken by a corner that found the head of Holbutt on the far post to make it 3-0, and then Miller completed a good afternoon for footballers in yellow shirts whose names are Tom, rounding Walker to complete the scoring.

Two games in two days featuring teams from the Waikato attended by me, and my home province emerges with a record of 0 and 2. Happy Easter.

Hopefully Claudelands will save my live football viewing weekend on Monday vs Western Springs in the Women’s Premier competition. I’m sure they are more than capable. The benefit of being a two-timing supporter of more than one team is that when one is rebuilding, there can be another in peak form! We shall see…

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 1

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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:

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