With NRFL getting underway next weekend, the time has come for my annual trudge around the football pitches of the Super City!
Three as alwayses to kick things off!
As always, below I have worked roughly North to South and grouped clubs into sub-regions so we can look for trends. Each ‘number 1’ pitch has been given a rating out of 10 and I have provided a few brief notes on what I saw. The numbers in brackets are the 2015 and 2013 (in that order) summer ratings so you can see the improvement/regression over time. Western Springs and Ellerslie are not included due to the fact they have artificial turf on their number one pitches.
As always, each pitch has a wide angle and a close-up photo. Click on the images for full sized versions.
And as always, some rudimentary analysis follows.
To compare with previous years see:
North Auckland – average 7.23(8.13, 5.33)/10
Hibiscus Coast – Stanmore Bay Park: 6.5(8.5, 3)/10 Regressed a little bit. Still nice grass cover but there are a couple of weedy patches and it’s quite lumpy and undulating. Also marks off for a big dent at the southwestern end near touch on the clubhouse side.
East Coast Bays – Bay City Park: 7.5(8, 4)/10 Again, nice even grass cover and very green but also very undulating.
Albany – Rosedale Park: 8(8, 6)/10 Sand carpet a year old and still looking great. Heavily butchered in the corners where the softball diamonds are but I’m sure they’ll get that fixed up lickety split.
Forrest Hill Milford – Becroft Park: 7(7, 8)/10 A little bit rugged with some running repairs obvious. Very undulating. Good grass cover once again but not quite as even as some of the others.
Takapuna – Taharoto Park: 8.5(9.5, 9)/10 Slipping a bit but still gorgeous. The same solitary weed as last year on the edge of the centre circle – sort it out Taka! Otherwise, nice surface as always, just a little lumpy.
Glenfield – McFetridge Park: 7(7.5, 4)/10 It’s got that McFetridge Park hump which I don’t think hurts anyone. A bit undulating but nice thick even grass, coarse but soft, on a reasonably hard base underneath.
North Shore – Allen Hill Stadium: –(8.5, 9)/10 No score because the gate was shut and the man who was there declined to let me in. He suggested I contact the club for access but I’m not making another trip to Devonport just to take two photos. Annoying.
Birkenhead – Shepherd’s Park: 6.5(8, 1)/10 A bit weedy, a bit sandy, a bit bumpy, two big repair patches at the clubhouse end.
West Auckland – average 5.5(5, 6.13)/10
Norwest – Huapai Domain: 6(5, -)/10 A bit lumpy and bumpy, full of weeds but nice even grass cover. Looks a little rough but not as bad as last year.
Waitakere City – Fred Taylor Park: 6.5(4, 8)/10 I have rated the number two this year as the number one still looks a mess with no repairs in sight. Number two is slightly undulating and mostly Kikuyu but all things considered it’s an ok surface. Assuming they will be playing on that for the foreseeable future.
Te Atatu – Te Atatu Peninsula Park: 5.5(4, -)/10 About par for the course for West Auckland as you’ll see below. Heavy scarring and a lot of weeds but it’s not tooooo bad in terms of flatness.
Waitemata – McLeod Park: 6(-, -)/10 Grass cover a little sparse and lumpy but generally an even surface that’s mostly weed free.
Oratia – Parrs Park: 6(6, 6.5)/10 A bit hair-plug-esque with a couple of patches of Kikuyu thrown in. Most significant issues along those lines are in the northern third, the rest isn’t too bad.
Bay Olympic – Olympic Park: 6(6, 5)/10 Another one in the heavily scarred and lumpy Westy category. Otherwise flat and not too weedy.
Lynn Avon – Ken Maunder Park: 2.5(5, 5)/10 Not sure if it’s going to be played on in this state. Number two is much the same. Some remedial work appears to be underway but not sure what they can do apart from dump some sand on it or rip it up and start again…
East Auckland – average 6.25(6.25, 7.5)/10
Eastern Suburbs – Madills Farm: 5(6.5, 7)/10 Above average suburban lawn. Weeds, lumps, bumps, patches, ruts, but apart from that it’s quite good! Nice green even grass coverage for the most part.
Fencibles – Riverhills Park: 7.5(6, 8)/10 Soft and fluffy, it’s always a nice pitch if you’re in the mood for a lie-down. Quite a nice flat surface. It’s starting to brown off already but that’s more cosmetic than anything.
Central Auckland – average 5.75(5.38, 6.25)/10
Mount Albert Ponsonby – Anderson Park: 6(5, 8)/10 Heavily pock marked and lumpy. Looking a bit neglected but still flat and mostly weed free.
Metro – Phyllis Street: 5(4.5, 8)/10 Like Anderson Park but full of weeds.
Central United – Kiwitea Street: 8(8, 6)/10 Obviously had heavy summer use and it’s showing the scars and looking a bit yellow. Still one of the nicer surfaces around though.
Three Kings – Keith Hay Park: 4(4, 3)/10 Up to its usual pretty low standard. I guess there’s no point doing much to fix it when it’s scheduled to be turned into Tiger Turf in the not too distant…
South Auckland – Average 6.39(6.13, 4.29)/10
Onehunga Sports – Waikaraka Park: 7(7, 7)/10 Quite pock marked but the grass that’s there is nice and fine. You’d be hard pressed to find a weed.
Onehunga Mangere – Mangere Domain: 7(6, 5)/10 As always, thick Kikuyu making up 90% of the surface but it’s tough, durable, flat and smooth. I found a couple of dents but it’s basically a good honest grassroots football surface.
Mangere – Centre Park: 5.5(5, 6)/10 Lots of paspallum, mottling and brown patches. Some repairs in the centre circle. Needs a bit of TLC but it’s nice and flat if a little lumpy.
Manukau City – Walter Massey Park: 7.5(6.5, 0)/10 Quite scarred from use and there’s a Spartan patch in the middle but still dead flat and a far cry from how bad it was. Continues to improve.
Papatoetoe – Murdoch Park: 8.5(7.5, 8)/10 Always one of the nicer surfaces. Dead flat if a little spongy. Lush. Very light pock marking and a few brown patches but otherwise beautiful.
Manurewa – Memorial Park: 4.5(3.5, 1)/10 Just generally unloved. Lots of thick paspallum, needs a cut, and a lot of unevenness. Better than last year though.
Papakura – McLennan Park: 8(9, -)/10 A few brown patches, a few battle scars, a little bit lumpy, but still a nice surface.
Franklin – Using two grounds…
Massey Park: 5(4.5, 3)/10 Best I’ve seen Waiuku. Even green grass coverage with tinges of brown and it’s mostly weeds, but not bad all things considered.
Bledisloe Park: 4.5(-, -)/10 Mottled, coarse, patchy, weedy and a bit unkempt looking.
Some additional thoughts.
This year Premier Division pitches scored an average of 6.44, down slightly from 6.5 in 2015 but still well up from its 4.38 in 2013.
Division 1 recovered a small amount of ground to 5.75 this year compared to 5.5 last year but still has a long way to go to get back to its 7.11 of three years ago.
Division 2 was the big mover with 7.31 this year compared to 6.5 last year and 5.44 in 2013.
Women’s Premier is holding steady with 5.71 this year compared to 5.5 in 2015.
The overall average in 2016 was 6.29, up very slightly from 6.21 last year and 5.48 in 2013 – we are making some progress!
It feels like the range is narrowing. I’m giving out fewer high scores and fewer low scores. There was nothing that scored above 8.5 this time, and nothing that scored below 2.5. In 2013 there were two 9s, six 8s, two 1s and a 0. This year there are two 8.5s, three 8s, zero 1s and zero 0s.
I suspect that reflects an investment that was made into the region’s football fields over the past two years that has led to a bit more equality. I’ll claim a very small amount of credit for that as a couple of clubs have told me they have used my low scores as part of their lobbying of the council for new pitches. There is still some work to do however.
Some pitches in South Auckland have improved out of sight but the neglect from Manurewa south is still letting the side down with the South Auckland average only having improved by .26% since last year.
South has nevertheless consolidated its position ahead of both Central and West – with the latter now well and truly the poor cousins. The highest score in West Auckland was an embarrassing 6.5 which went to, not the number one, but the number two at Fred Taylor Park!
There’s also something about two year old sand carpets – a lot of those pitches that were under construction when I would normally have done my 2014 State of the Nation were beautiful last year, while this year they seem to have lost their flatness and are now quite lumpy or undulating as a general rule.
I was intending to make you some pretty graphs but I’ve decided I can’t be bothered now… Maybe another day. Soznotsoz!
See you on opening day this Friday!
Categories: Other Football Topics
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.