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That Sinky feeling

Waiuku 3, Ngaruawahia 0
Massey Park, Waiuku, September 5 2015

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“Come on Ngara! Or else you can walk home…”
– Des, the bus driver

This was the sort of game you don’t really want to go to but you sort of have to. It’s like a fight to the death between your best friend and your favourite uncle. Why can’t they both win? Why is the universe so cruel? WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?????

Ngaruawahia, as I have said before on numerous occasions, is my favourite club in the NRFL and Waiuku is literally everyone’s second team. That it came down to this, a Division 1 relegation six pointer between two special clubs taking place in the no-man’s land between the Waikato and Auckland, was a sad poignant reality.

Both had a hill bigger than the Bombay’s to climb going in. For Ngara the equation was a bit tougher albeit much simpler – win all the rest of their games to stay up. For Waiuku it was win this plus collect a further two points from their remaining three ordinarily difficult fixtures to avoid the drop.

I used the phrase ‘ordinarily difficult’ above because unlike this game, some relegation scraps have already been decided in somewhat controversial circumstances. There is a good reason why a lot of leagues around the world work very hard to ensure that the final round concludes on the same day of the year for all clubs, and all catch-up games are played before that can take place. If you don’t do that, the price you pay is in the inequity of relegation battles that are decided by catch-up games. When that happens, some teams get the advantage of opposition that has nothing left to play for and their minds wandering onto summer football and/or the cricket season…

There was an excellent case in point elsewhere yesterday. Melville secured safety in the Premier Division thanks to a victory over an Eastern Suburbs side that had already won the league. Believe it or not, that was a round five game!

For more on this, check out Jeremy Ruane’s excellent article that succinctly sets out the problem and contains some practical suggestions for how the situation might be avoided in the future.

As for this game, well, as I said both teams had it all to play for but I guess for Ngara the hill was always going to be a bit too steep. Waiuku were fired up and when Derek Sinclair is in the kind of mood he was in, they were always going to be pretty hard to stop. During the game the Waiuku Twitter account said I am the big man’s lucky charm but to the best of my recollection that’s the first Sinky hat-trick I’ve witnessed! Not that I’m complaining – to see him dink three in, all in the first half, was a sight to behold. One of the things I always love about watching him score at Massy Park is the goal celebrations are epic!

I was nonetheless sad for Ngara. Not half as sad as the team may have been though as during the second half Des their bus driver was heard to exclaim that they’d be walking home if they didn’t pick things up! This will no doubt do wonders for their fitness though. I look forward to seeing them reap the rewards in Division 2 next year.

As I alluded to above, Waiuku now need 2 points from their remaining three games which are against Tauranga City, Metro and Mangere United. If they manage to stay up it will be at the expense of Takapuna, who have played all their fixtures and can now do nothing but watch and hope….

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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