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A tale of two WaiBOPs

WaiBOP 3, New Zealand Development 8
WaiBOP United 2, Team Wellington 3
Gower Park, Hamilton, November 15 2015

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
– Charles Dickens, WaiBOP fan

If an alien from the planet Tharg had come to Earth before breakfast on Sunday morning and asked me what it’s like to be a Waikato football fan, and I had taken him to Gower Park for the afternoon in order to show him, a more perfect illustration of exactly what it’s like is hard to imagine…

‘Twas ever thus.

In the beginning, there is always hope. “It will be different this year!” – Riiiiiiiight, of course it will…

It’s a new season, a new team for WaiBOP United. New players have arrived from successful winter clubs with winning mentalities. It’s a new era! The age of Television has finally arrived, even if the age of television is almost dead everywhere else… The point is that the ASB Premiership is glitzy and glamorous now – and we have a squad to match! Look out world, here we come!!

Our ASB Women’s League team is in semi-final contention. A win here and we’re in third place where we belong! Ready to make our late season surge and win the whole kit and kaboodle! And all this is happening on a sunny summer day with the lovely Tron on show to the whole country.

Yeah, nah.

It never happens quite as you imagine it will. Which is weird, because it’s the same every year. I guess we are just slow learners, us Waikato natives. Glacially slow…

There are two different kinds of WaiBOP disappointment – the last gasp slap-down and the complete capitulation. Both were on show yesterday, and I’m not quite sure which is worse…

Actually I am. At least with the complete capitulation you aren’t left wondering what might have been. It’s just embarrassing, that’s all. …I mean to say, it’s not the team that’s embarrassing. They are doing their best! No, it’s me that’s embarrassing for getting my hopes up in a hopeless situation. The truth is that even if the women had won yesterday, they still would have had to win their semi-final place against a star studded Northern side hungry for redemption after their own slip-up against Mainland. Success is always a mirage.

No, I have come to the conclusion that the worst kind of disappointment is the one that sneaks up on you and yells “BOO!!!” before running away, cackling with laughter…

There must be something about Team Wellington in this regard. We might have managed to pip them 2-1 in the corresponding ASB Premiership fixture last season, but that’s the exception that proves the rule. The feeling I felt when walking out of Gower Park on this occasion was more the norm, and was particularly reminiscent of another brutally painful memory that was seared into my consciousness in 2012, when Louis Fenton hurled his shirt about four stories into the air having scored the winner deep, deep, deep into injury time against Waikato FC at Porritt Stadium…


Well, it seemed like four stories high. It might only have been two. But you get my point.

Cheer up, though! As it always is with football, it’s the journey that matters more so than the destination! We got to score the first goal in both games! Five times, we got to celebrate leads against opposition that’s better than us on paper – three times in the women’s game and twice in the men’s! We got to yell at the ref for penalties, fouls and offsides not given, or given! We got to welcome the return, through gritted teeth, of the man who walked out on us mid-season a couple of seasons ago…


And we got to eat bad chips and drink worse coffee! In the rain! On TV!

It was a great day. Really.

Would we go if there was no hope in our hearts of a happier ending? Of course we would. Football tragics don’t let a piffling little thing like perpetual tragedy get in the way of our self-inflicted world of torment and misery! Why would we do a silly thing like that?

Categories: NZ Men's National League NZ Women's National League

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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.

1 reply

  1. “It is when our budding hopes are nipped beyond recovery by some rough wind, that we are the most disposed to picture to ourselves what flowers they might have borne, if they had flourished…”

    Charles Dickens was even more eloquent later on after a couple of pints in the Gower Park clubrooms.

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