Oratia United 3, Papakura City 4
Parrs Park, Auckland, August 29 2015
“URGH! Enzo! We lose whenever you turn up, can you go away please???”
– Jason Heather, Papakura coach.
It was a fair enough request. I have certainly been in attendance during some of Papakura’s darkest moments over the past few years!
- The loss to Claudelands in the March 2013 play-off to find Matamata’s replacement in the NRFL.
- The loss to AFC Fury in the October 2013 promotion playoff (eventually overturned on appeal).
- The loss to Manurewa in the 2014 Manu Hudson Trophy.
- And who could forget last season’s cruel, cruel loss to Fencibles that saw promotion to Division 1 snatched from their grasp in the last game of the season.
But all good things come to those who wait, and I can’t think of a more deserving team than Papakura for the reward they received yesterday – the 104 year old Pascoe Shield, awarded to the champions of Division 2. They also deservedly received the automatic promotion to Division 1 that goes along with the big hunk of oak and silver.
Last week, in my write-up of Forrest Hill Milford’s coronation as Division 1 champions, I talked about the best way to win a trophy being a free kick that curls around the wall and finds its way into the back of the net with time up on the clock against your closest rivals. Just like in the movies. But there are other ways to win that are just as memorable, such as the road traversed today…
Also up against their nearest rivals on the ladder, Kura needed a win or a draw today to be crowned. Their opponents, Oratia United, were the home side and were safe in the knowledge that their own promotion was secured whatever the outcome. But that didn’t stop them putting on a show!
The frolics began barely a minute after kick-off when Tia’s Chris Smart wheeled away from goal like a man possessed having just fired the home side into the earliest of early leads! If only he knew how short-lived it would be… Around five minutes later Apisai Smith levelled the scores by getting on the end of a Charlie Heather cross and then it was Heather himself who siezed a 2-1 lead for the visitors before we had even passed the ten minute mark in the match!
Miraculously, after that start, we almost made it to the break without the scoresheet being stained in any further way! Almost but not quite – Apisai Smith bagged his second right before the break to make the half time score 3-1.
As the rain that had been threatening all afternoon closed in on us, the 2015 NRFL Division 2 season felt like it was closing down too when Daniel Billott netted Kura’s fourth with around half an hour left to play. Surely there was no way back for the team from the foot of the Waitakere Ranges…
But the day was not done yet! Mark Withers finaly scored the goal he’d been threatening all day for Oratia with about 20 minutes still left in the match, and then with ten to go Daniel Semp cut the deficit back to the slimmest of margins!
The rest of the match was a white knuckle ride as Oratia threw everything at stopping their South Auckland Opponents from lifting the trophy on their home turf. They came close on numerous occasions but couldn’t quite drive home the advantage and in the end they were pretty unfortunate to lose the match.
But, of course, Kura were jubilant. It was somehow fitting for them to finally earn the success they so richly deserve in this manner – by gutsing it out and holding off a spirited and very nearly successful attempt to take what was theirs – an attempt that arguably might have been more fruitful against a team that hasn’t been through the disappointments that Kura have suffered.
I always say you have to have experienced bitter defeat before you can truly appreciate a great victory. I suspect the memories as well as the experience of tasting past defeats have both made this day both possible and super special for them.
See Jason, I did you guys a favour by jinxing you all those times!!!
Congratulations Papakura City – NRFL Division 2 champions 2015!
Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 2
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.