OK – Last post about the ASB Premiership for a while! Well, that is, until I go to a game on Sunday…
First of all I have to congratulate the new teams that made the cut – Eastern Suburbs, Hamilton Wanderers and Tasman. They all made very strong cases and, without question, deserve their places in the league. I want to particularly acknowledge Eastern Suburbs, who are in my region and not only do a great job on the men’s side of things but also show a real commitment to the women’s game which gets them extra credit in my book. Wanderers were a foregone conclusion and I don’t know if there was anyone in the football community who didn’t predict Tasman’s inclusion!
Detractors might point to Eastern Suburbs’ healthy bank balance as the only reason they got in, but I think that’s probably overlooking the fact that NZF always said they were looking for ‘pinnacle clubs’. How much more pinnacle can you get than a club that has won 6 Chatham Cups, 3 Northern Leagues and a National League? If you’re committed to moving from franchises to clubs, Eastern Suburbs is a name you want front and centre.
But having said that, a big name, success on the pitch and a lot of money shouldn’t be anywhere close to the only considerations.
I know it’s really hard when there are only two places up for grabs and so many deserving candidates but I really do feel particularly sad for all my hard working and dedicated mates at Auckland United. No disrespect intended to any of the successful clubs, but I just think the omission of the South Auckland bid is a real waste.
The good folks at Centre Park have spent the last three years, thousands of volunteer hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars competing in the ASB Youth League. As a result of this decision, after their last game of the season this weekend, their time is up for good in that competition too.
I had a chat to their Chairman, former NZ Football Chief Executive Noel Robinson, at the game last weekend, and he told me then that in the event of this outcome the club would probably be wound up. Many volunteers who are passionate about growing the game of football are now likely to walk out the door. All that hard work and money, not to mention the opportunities inherent in their bid, would appear to be wasted.
They arguably had more to lose than any of the other bidding Northern entities. If Eastern Suburbs had missed out, for example, life would have gone on and they could have bid again and been successful at the next expansion. Whereas for South Auckland now, NRFL Division One is the highest any of the clubs in their region currently sit. Unfortunately this is the problem with inequality – it perpetuates itself.
I repeat – there’s more to life than money and success on the pitch. Auckland United’s case, as stated on this blog, showed that they offered that. I’m not saying the selection committee got it wrong. I wasn’t there so I have no clue what they weighed up. I recognise that the Auckland United bid wasn’t perfect. And of course somebody had to miss out. I just think it’s a pity that it worked out the way it did. That’s all.
Categories: NZ Men's National League
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.