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Getting it right for once

Warkworth 4, Unimount Bohemian Celtic 3
Shoesmith Reserve, Warkworth, August 1 2015

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I was after something a bit different yesterday, and wow, I sure got it! Not only was it a stonking good seven goal thriller, but there was also a little something extra right at the end.

I detected a slight note of “WTF?” in the look I got from Warkworth keeper Simon Borich when I arrived at Shoesmith Reserve. “You are a real sucker for punishment if you’re coming out to see us” he said almost sheepishly. It has been a tough year for his side, their first back in the AFF/NFF Conference after being relegated from NRFL at the end of last season. But as I pointed out, it’s not the worst year to be rebuilding! Waitemata is running away with the title with a star studded line-up (well, certainly by Conference standards). Might as well let them have it and look to the future.

And the future appears to be exactly where Warkworth are looking to, with a smattering of teenagers appearing on the team sheet amongst the odd familiar face still making up the spine of the pretty handy side that won lots of admirers, myself included, during their stint in NRFL. Nevertheless going into this game they were tied on points with last place, albeit 10th on goal difference. The pressure was certainly building with their last eight games yielding seven losses and a draw. Their last win came two months ago vs rock bottom Otahuhu.

And if I had needed any further incentive to cheer for Warkworth in this game, I got it in that first conversation with Simon as I arrived…

Earlier in the day I had seen a tweet by him questioning the use of the haka in schoolboy rugby. I responded by joking that I thought we should introduce it in grassroots football. It would certainly draw in the spectators to watch some of the pastier sides show us their moves! When I saw Simon at the game I told him I expected to see one performed today. His response was that he’d do a haka if his team won!

You always know what to expect when you turn up to watch Bohemian Celtic. A very good and ambitious side with lots of thick Irish accents and no shortage of passion. They have also been having a tough year by the standards of a side like this that has been pushing for promotion for the last couple of seasons. Going into this game they were sitting seventh out of twelve teams, just four points ahead of Warkworth.

It was the team in green who grabbed the early advantage when Dave Fergusson slotted one past Borich after the keeper fumbled a save about 15 minutes into the match. It was the second time Bohemian Celtic had found the back of the auld onion bag, the first being called offside, and it was a lead they deserved to hold. They kept knocking on the door for the remainder of the first half but thanks to some smart saves by Borich and some wasteful finishing, 1-0 was the half time score.

During the break I thought the chances of me getting my haka were looking pretty slim but the second half proved to be a whole new ballgame! It took just a couple of minutes for the tide to turn when Warkworth’s long serving goal machine Rob Carty grabbed the equaliser in around about the 47th minute. Only ten minutes or so later Carty had his second and Warkworth had their lead and it was at about this time I was tossing up whether to film or take still images of this haka…

But only three minutes later my daydreams were interrupted by Paul Quinlan slotting an equaliser to make the score 2-2! Things started getting a bit niggly around this time with the ref fielding multiple ‘queries’ from various people about his decision making… Tempers only became more frayed when Unimount’s Gary Marian received a straight red card for a tackle on a Warkworth attacking player and the visitors suddenly found themselves down to ten men despite appearing to feel as though they themselves had been on the receiving end of some agricultural play.

About ten minutes after the sending off, the numbers told and Warkworth retook the lead via Carty completing his hat-trick. Once again the Warkworth lead was short lived though and with about fifteen minutes left to play Paul Dunno scored for the visitors… But Carty wasn’t finished yet – his fourth came only seconds after the restart and Unimount hearts were broken once again.

The last ten minutes were a white knuckle ride with Unimount throwing everything they had at trying to effect one last comeback but somehow Warkworth held on. And so this happened:

The magic moment!

A few times recently I have lamented my choice of games to attend and even some of the Warkworth faithful seemed a bit bemused to see me yesterday. But, do you know something, when I get it right, BOY DO I GET IT RIGHT!!

I should watch the Conference more often.

Categories: NZ AFF/NFF Men's Conference

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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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