Oratia 3, Birkenhead 3
Parrs Park, Auckland, February 13 2016
How you feeling? Bloody hot. Too bloody hot! I apologise that I haven’t been blogging as regularly as I should lately but, seriously, it’s just too damn hot to write anything much.
Have I mentioned how much I hate summer?
Luckily for all of us, winter is not that far away. And to prove it, there were a host of Northern League pre-season friendlies on offer to attend all over Auckland yesterday. This was particularly handy for me considering there are no ASB Premiership games on in the top half of the North Island this weekend.
What on earth prompted me to choose a 1pm kick off on turf at the height of summer though??? Well, I wanted to go to Springs v Franklin at Seddon Fields but 11am was a bit early for me considering Roma were playing at 8:45 (fourth win in a row baby!!!) and that wouldn’t have given me enough time to get to Westmere by kick-off. I also had people coming for dinner in the evening, so I elected the close to home in the middle of the day option!
But boy oh boy did I pay the price… With no shade close to the pitch and the black rubber in the tiger turf kicking up so much heat I could only stand out there taking snaps for the first two thirds. I have no idea how the players managed to last a whole game! I spent the last third cowering under a distant tree and watching from afar.
Despite that, it was very nice to start my NRFL season 2016 with these two sides, both of whom I have some affection for, in the cradle of the Waitakere Ranges.
Obviously the usual caveat about pre-season friendlies apply here, but Birkenhead looked a good side and dominated large chunks of the game. They were guilty, however, of some wastefulness in front of goal while Oratia keeper Dave Self played a blinder and largely kept his side in it. The first third saw an early penalty converted by Birko. Oratia grabbed an equaliser early in the second but then Birkenhead’s attack found their range and built a two goal cushion heading into the last half hour. The final third belonged to Oratia, as they came storming back to level the game close to the death.
I’m sorry, but I’m not a lot of use for giving you any useful gossip about who was who and what the key additions and subtractions are to these squads over summer. There were no team sheets and I only really recognised players I have seen before on both sides. However I do understand that Birkenhead are welcoming back some returning players of the past while Oratia were complaining that as many as five first team players were unavailable for this fixture. That’s what they all say in pre-season though right? 😉
Looking around the traps, there are a few interesting looking titbits of gossip floating around some other places though…
Manukau City are just so intriguing to me now that Kevin Fallon has come on board as their head coach. I saw from a Facebook post today that their friendly yesterday, a 2-1 victory over Glen Eden, boasted goals to 2015 Chatham Cup winner Rhys Ruka and former Waiuku talisman Derek Sinclair! Colour me shocked.
I have also heard a few interesting little nuggets from the women’s game. Apparently Claudelands might need to do a spot of rebuilding as Kylie Jens is rumoured to be playing in Auckland this year, Kate Carlton is doing her OE, Jeanette Adams is taking time out to have a baby, and there have been mutterings for a while that Helen Collins may be taking an extended break – huge losses all round if any or all of them are true.
I’ve been reliably informed at various stages of the off-season that new Forrest Hill Milford gaffer Ryan Faithful has retained the majority of his squad post the departure of Mauro Donoso to Eastern Suburbs with just two key departures. And Lynn Avon, under the tutelage of former Three Kings reserves coach Daniel Cope, look to have brought NZ Under 20 keeper Tessa Nichol up from the Deep South.
Some other interesting men’s transfers are listed here: http://yellowfever.co.nz/posts/1106087
I’m interested in hearing any further gossip you’d like to share in the comments below?
Roll on the end of March!
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.