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You had one job

Northern Mystics 53, Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic 49
Trusts Stadium, Auckland, May 18 2015

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Dammit WaiBOP! I say that a lot. Usually about football. But this time I’m saying it about a different sport…

As I’ve said before, I love netball. It’s a great game in my opinion. It’s fast, it’s exciting, and it has the rare quality of bringing out every emotion I have. It makes me laugh, cry, yell at the TV in anger, hide behind the couch, turn off the TV because I can’t take it anymore, and turn it back on again two minutes later because I can’t handle not knowing how it ends either. I hang off every pass – particularly when it’s the Silver Ferns or my beloved Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic taking to the court.

But there is something else that fuels my love of netball, and it’s related to football:

The derbies. Well, one derby in particular.

One of the things we all love about football derbies, and the reason why many fans would prefer to win their local derby than their league itself, is the relationships you have with the fans of your local rivals. While your league is made up of many other teams from different cities whose populations you have little to do with on a day to day basis, when it comes to your local rivals you argue with their fans all year about who has the better team.

In the weeks leading up to a derby, the banter builds to a crescendo of trash talk. Your rivals become unbearable to you and you to them. What really gives a god derby that extra bit of spice is the fact that when a derby is over, your rival fans don’t pile onto busses and drive off into the sunset like other fans. The next morning, as you attempt to go about your normal daily business, the opposing fans are your co-workers, your boss and the guy who sells you your morning espresso. To lose to them, and to have no other choice but to face them the next day, is a truly horrific fate.

If I lived in Rome, both before and after a Roma/Lazio derby (and this is particularly pertinent because there is one this Tuesday morning) my workplace would be full of banter. I often regret that I miss out on that.

But my love of netball, and the Magic, means that I don’t entirely miss out. I am the only male in my workplace and while nobody except me cares about football, netball is the one sport that everyone does care about in some way, shape or form. And everyone except me and one other colleague supports the Northern Mystics. On any given Monday morning during ANZ Championship season, the first question I field is often a rhetorical “how did the Magic go?” To which my answer this season has often been “Magic? What’s that? I have no idea what you’re talking about” (See post-match coping mechanisms here.)

Knowing what I know, I should have thought a bit more carefully before agreeing to going to Monday night’s Mystics/Magic derby with my workmates. In hindsight, it was only ever going to end one way – utter humiliation!

Thankfully our excuses are valid and numerous – injuries to key players, woeful refereeing, the lights were funny, there was moisture on the court, somebody let a seagull into the stadium, there was a troll in the dungeon, Darth Vader was using the Force on our defenders and half the Mystics are ex-Magic players and staff anyway so we actually won really!

No, you had one job WaiBOP – beat the JAFAs when I am in attendance surrounded by a baying mob of Mystics mad people I have to face for the rest of the week… And what did you do instead, DAMMIT? Was I saying something before about regretting missing out on something… what was it again?

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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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