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Bend it like Mulligan

Forrest Hill Milford 2, North Shore United 1
Becroft Park, Auckland, August 22 2015

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If you’re going to win a league you might as well do it with some style I would have thought. I’m just guessing. Teams I support don’t tend to win leagues very often. But I imagine if one of them did, seeing them grab the necessary points in the dying minutes of a match, versus their biggest rivals, via an all or nothing free kick that curls around the wall and into the corner of the net, would be up there with the better ways it could happen! I mean, that’s how they do it in the movies, right? Something along the lines of this:

The funny thing is, that video isn’t too far off what actually happened yesterday at Becroft Park!

It was the crunch game of the season. 1 v 2 in the league. Top of the table Forrest Hill Milford needed to beat their local rivals, second placed North Shore United, to clinch the Division 1 title, win promotion to next season’s Northern Premier League and hoist aloft the Thomson Shield – a trophy first presented in 1892.

Forrest Hill are relative new kids on the block compared to North Shore’s storied 128 year history of six Chatham Cup wins, 2 National League trophies and numerous other titles compared to 40 year old FHM’s modest tally of just the one men’s Northern Division 4 crown back in 1988. If history was your only guide you wouldn’t give the swans much hope. But what you’d be missing is what they have been building at Becroft Park over the past few years. They may have been relegated from the Premier League back in 2011 after their first two year stint at that level, and found themselves in Division 2 before bouncing back up, but this is a club that means business. Their return to the top flight was always only a matter of time.

Yesterday’s opponents were never going to make it easy for them, and they certainly didn’t when only around ten minutes into the contest, Chris Bryson did exceptionally well. With his body facing away from goal, he got on the end of a headed cross with a nice little dink with the outside of his right boot and in it looped. My description hasn’t really done it justice and if my photo of it wasn’t blurry I’d post it to show you what it looked like, but this is the best I can do in the absence of that. Suffice to say it was a sexy little number! North Shore had the lead.

But it only took two minutes after that effort for the two sides to be back on level terms thanks to the referee pointing to the spot in FHM’s favour and Benji Roberts making no mistake.

The next seventy five minutes were all a bit of a blur to be honest but not in a bad way. It was fast paced and attacking as both teams went hammer and tongs to try and take the game by the scruff of the neck. Nobody could do it though and by the 85th minute I was beginning to curse my luck. Whenever I try to pick games that I hope will result in a lovey trophy presentation to photograph at the end, it usually ends in tears for the team that was expected to win. As the clock wound down, this game was starting to look like it would be no different. The curse of Enzo strikes again!

But then, with the game all but over, a free kick was awarded, inside the danger zone but still a fair way out, and up stepped David ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ Mulligan.

He coolly analysed the situation and with expert precision he surgically dissected the North Shore United wall and the despairing dive of the keeper to propel his side into the history books!

Congratulations Forrest Hill Milford! 2015 Northern Regional Football League Division 1 Champions.

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 1

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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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