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The case for Hamilton Wanderers


By Rod de Lisle

Hamilton Wanderers have a bit in common with my favourite English team, Leicester City. Both play in blue and both have featured All White Chris Wood in their playing lineup. And like the mighty foxes, Wanderers have latterly punched above their  weight on the playing field against more established rivals. Leicester have a bloke called Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha to thank. (Yes, he has more letters in his name than Chelsea have points this season ). The Thai magnate owner is the man behind the rise and rise of City in recent seasons.

Wanderers don’t have a Srivaddhanaprabha so what are our odds of succeeding in the country’s top flight? Well four consecutive top four finishes in the Lotto Northern Premier league are a testament to quality of the current team, as well as the stat that show the team  hammered in an impressive 65 goals in 22 games this year.  A team that entertains in a swashbuckling attacking style. The Captain Jack Sparrows of the local football scene and dare I say it, like the current Leicester City team.

The Wanderers team are ably supported by a tight back-room crew, lead by director of coaching, Mark Cossey.  Cossey’s uncompromising coaching manner and zest for the the game, coupled with the constant stream of talent emerging from the club’s youth academy, has seen the first team steadily improve year on year. A title win has eluded the side -most years have seen a dominant team of well-paid mercenaries pip us- but surely it can’t be far away.

The current WaiBop national league team also features 6 Wanderers players in their rank and one or two others are plying their trade with other National league sides. And the WaiBop youth team, likewise is Wanderers dominated. So on the playing side our bid stacks up well.

Off the field the club is strong: the core of the club committee and executive have worked tirelessly to improve the club facilities and match the FIFA quality pitch that was installed last year, prior to this year’s under 20 World Cup tournament.

At first glance the decision to bid for National league status could be viewed as audacious. This is a club who have traditionally played second fiddle to local rivals such as Melville and the various Waikato national league entities.  But as well as the coaching genius of Cossey the club have the experience of Chairman, Brendon Coker, who has thrown himself into the national league bid with vigour. Coker has previously run national league teams under the Waikato United banner and is seen by most as the ideal person to front such a bid.

A good fundraising programme has been put in place and local businesses have expressed their support. The club are lucky to have a close relationship with local MP (and part time footballer) David Bennett as well also the WaiBop association who have supported the Wanderers proposal.

It will be interesting in hindsight to see how the next year or two unfold for both the revamped national league and for the Wanderers club. These are exciting times. And as Srivaddhanaprabha told me, “You have to buy a raffle to have a chance of winning, that’s what I did at Leicester when the odds of success were the same as someone spelling my name correctly”

[This is the fourth in a series of guest posts from bidding entities stating why they would make great ASB Premiership clubs. I have now been in communication with all the new bids that I am aware of. I’m not sure if all will participate in this feature yet, but I remain hopeful. With all the information out in the open, us fans are much more likely to understand the bids and in turn the decisions that NZF ultimately make.]

Categories: NZ Men'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.

2 replies

  1. Hi Rod,

    Congratulations on Wanderers Sports Club stepping up to the plate. You must be commended for your enthusiasm (for Leicester as well, I guess), and unlike most other bids, yours would appear to be a formality subject to meeting criteria.

    Given Porritt Stadium has previously hosted national league under the auspicies of Waikato United, Melville United and Waikato FC, there should be no problem there, and in Brendon Coker you have perhaps the staunchest advocate for the national league in the Waikato in recent times.

    But I guess there are a couple of wee questions:

    National League operations have run at a significant deficit under WaiBop control over 2.5 seasons, with the cost effectively socialised across the wider code through federation book-keeping. And that was even with utilising a coach who was already on the federation payroll. How will Wanderers fund national league operations without that avenue of financial support?

    What will Wanderers Sports Club do differently in terms of coach appointment and player recruitment? (Does the club have any specific policies or philosophies that the wider code may be interested to hear?)

    Do Wanderers Sports Club envisage playing national league matches on the Porritt centre pitch or the upgraded U-20 training pitch?

    How will the club manage the overlap of summer and winter demands at an already-busy Porritt as the league moves to a 30-match season?

    How will Wanderers Sports Club neutralise the inevitable internal rivalry that bubbles away with other Waikato clubs that they must do battle with at all other levels of the game (in order to get them on-board as summer supporters)?

    Finally, can we expect to see the likes of Bob Dylan, Roger Daltrey, Bob Marley, and Jon Bon Jovi curiously appear in Wanderers’ team line-ups in away national league match programmes? 🙂

  2. Very good points raised. The club does a wider strategy around a number of the issues raised. The club will be based on the new FIFA pitch and we have plans around seating etc. We will also have games at Waikato Stadium

    The club wants to engage with the wider football community. I strongly believe that if the region has a strong national leaguie team then we will have strong clubs. Our policy is that non Wanderers players who play for other clubs during winter will be welcome to play for Wanderers during the national league if we are successful. The administers of each club needs to build trust between each other. Our view is that its great to have rivalry on the pitch but off the pitch the Waikato/BOP clubs need to work closer to ensure Waikato football stays strong

    We are open to discussions from all clubs how we should engage with them so they support the regions national league team.I will work with each clubs committees to engage and listen

    We have detailed plans in place around volunteer requirements so we don’t burn out key personnel

    Hope this clarifies a few points. I’m happy to engage with people outside forums to explain our vision and stategies.

    Club Chairman

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