Menu Home

A tale of three teams

Franklin United 0, Metro 2
Waiuku 3, Papatoetoe United 0
Massey Park, Waiuku, April 2 2016

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After last week’s opening weekend tail chasing that kind of ruined the day for me, my sole objective yesterday was to simply choose a game, go to it, and enjoy it. In that at least I succeeded. As usual, I don’t make life easy for myself by choosing something far-flung, but the match-up(s) at Massey Park in Waiuku looked too tasty to miss.

In the red corner – a brand new team in the form of Franklin United. An amalgamation of Waiuku and Pukekohe AFC, they are taking up the former’s place in Division 1.

In the blue but usually red when they are playing at home corner – Metro. A club we all know and love spiced up with a loving spoonful of last season’s successful North Shore United side thrown into the pot.

And in the other blue corner, way over on the other side of the park, playing on the number 2 pitch, a fair chunk of last year’s Waiuku NRFL team going up against Papatoetoe United in the AFF Championship…

It’s no secret that this Franklin marriage isn’t totally rosy.

There are many rumours that a lot of good players have opted out of the project because it’s ‘not for them’, preferring instead to either kick around with their mates at a lower level or take their talents off to other clubs. There are complaints that what was supposed to be about youth pathways for Franklin based players has instead resulted in journeymen from outside the region being lured in with cash.

Circulating around the boundaries of the pitch yesterday, I certainly overheard a lot of what I would call subdued discontent. It wasn’t the happy raucous little band of supporters I am used to seeing at Massey Park. Whereas over on the number 2, when I snuck over there for a looksee during half time in the NRFL game, I noticed that that was where all the atmosphere had transplanted to. A lot of banter was certainly flying backwards and forwards both to and from the sidelines.

And when the game on the number two was finished and some of the players and supporters wandered over to give a few of their old mates a bit of stick, that seemed to be when the NRFL game sprung into life! Franklin had gone two goals down late in the first half and had been struggling for much penetration the whole game. In the last ten minutes or so, with good natured insults flying, they looked good enough for at least one goal. But the frustration was evident all along that things just weren’t clicking.

Despite all this however, tales of Franklin’s demise are greatly exaggerated! On the surface it is arguable that everything is going according to plan. The team is still gelling, players are still learning each other’s names, and they are improving with every game. They do look good enough to pick up a few wins and avoid the drop to division 2 – and that is, a senior club official told me, the main objective for the season. If they can consolidate their position in the league, the local youngsters that coach Tam Cramer is developing in the U19 side will come through and lead the push for future promotion (no pressure Tam).

Change is always hard. And any time there is a big change – particularly with a club like Waiuku that was everybody in the league’s second team – there will be a lot of discontent. But was Waiuku sustainable in its previous form? Was that team, that let’s face it was aging, capable of staying in the NRFL long term? Was there local Waiuku youth coming through to eventually replace the older warriors like ‘Sinky’ Sinclair?

Hopefully in a couple or three years’ time, when all the teething problems have been forgotten, people will be wondering how or why anyone was ever against this initiative.

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 1

Tagged as:

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.

7 replies

  1. Good read Enzo.

    I just would like to say though that there was certainly enough young talent coming through at Waiuku to sustain NRFL football. A lot of people did a lot of work there to ensure that would be the case. There was definitely always a problem with getting those young players into the NRFL squad regularly, and keeping them enthused about football whilst they sit on the bench, but I would suggest that that is a problem that can be found across the league.

    Regardless. It’s great to see Franklin United developing football in the region and it’s also great to see the heart and soul of Waiuku being kept alive in the Championship team. That has to be good for football in the region in the long term.

  2. Hi Enzo. Great read as always and seeing that I have been heavily involved with Waiuku football for 15 years straight, I am probably one of the only ones that are close enough to the action to be able to reply to some of the comments above. It is actually a great opportunity to tell you my side of the story as there are a lot of people that have an opinion as always with any big change like this – but it is a question of whether they are speaking with their heart (passion for the badge) rather than thinking with their football brain. I for one am very passionate about Waiuku, of course I am, a lot of great memories and we achieved things (potentially overachieved) with a group of people that just wasn’t sustainable for the club, committee or the players coming through.

    I myself found it interesting to see some of the negative. Everyone has an opinion of course but I find it amusing that a lot of the negativity is from people who have gone away in and out of the club over the last 8 years at best for either footballing reasons or other hobbies. And that is fair enough, because there is more to life than footy – eg work and family. It is a shame that the noisy people, however, have talked too much about why it won’t work, influencing others, rather than potentially looking at the reasons as to why it might work. I don’t think they are actually thinking about the young players careers and opportunities now because if they were they would easily see the benefits. Potentially our biggest problem is mis communication – but to be fair I don’t think most of these people want to listen.

    In reality and for the reason why Franklin was built, we have lost one player that was involved last year. Dom Winter went to Papakura because he wanted a change. Indeed Waiuku lost the two Day boys (Paul and Mike) but they were leaving anyway – always going to Manukau. This wasn’t built for the aging players, although it certainly would of been great if the aging players that built the legacy at Waiuku could of helped a bit more by paving the way for the younger generation. But one or two have openly admitted to wanting to see their final years out playing hassle free – not having to put up with the hassle that comes with change. Fair enough and they have been very loyal to me over the years so why would I not support this. But to stay competitive we needed players and so we had to join the real football world and become part of something that every other club in NRFL does.

    Waiuku had Jamie McGookin playing yesterday, who has taken on a new job and couldn’t commit to NRFL and at this stage Mitch Thomasen and Caine Robbie who both leave for the UK in 3-4 weeks. There were no other first team players from last year in the Waiuku team yesterday.

    What is really positive for me, is the way the Waiuku club have rallied around the change and rebuilt the strongest committee I have seen in many years. Last year we had one person taking all three leading positions on the committee whilst others stood by and watched without lifting a finger. Is this sustainable for a NRFL club? My opinion is that Waiuku will be sustainable as a AFF club. Waiuku have not had to potentially suffer the relegation blues like Warkworth etc and have been given the chance to build something strong. Something that this small little country club does extremely well.

    Tam will not be building the Franklin Under 19 future by himself. The board have clearly defined the strategy of staying competitive in NRFL (Premier, 1 or 2) whilst the entire group start to develop the current crop and look to collaborate with the junior clubs. Of the junior clubs, Pukekohe is by far leading the way in Franklin. In Waiuku the senior and junior clubs run separately so there is no collaboration even inside the club. In my opinion a mistake driven by politics and egos. I disagree with John above, in my mind there is a snowball’s chance in hell of creating enough young players through the junior Waiuku ranks to stay sustainable in NRFL. There is a big difference between putting players in that are not ready versus just putting people on the field. We experienced it with a group of youngsters that came through developed by Ward Jameson (someone I have a huge amount of respect for in the football world). However putting them into the NRFL reserve team and with the demanding expectations of people inside the squad, they all disappeared. Not one of them played first team last year, or the year before for that matter.

    One thing I do know – I will most likely be with Franklin United in the next 15 years – not in a coaching role because of responsibilities I have outside football and because I am simply not a good enough coach to take Franklin further. I am passionate about helping players achieve their dreams, I always have. That is what keeps me going. I will watch with interest to see who is still fighting the cause in Waiuku AFC. Hopefully those that have so much to say now will be there standing strong in 15 years also. That is potentially about 320 football games standing there and supporting through good and bad times. I know there are some that have been standing alongside me over the last 15 years that can do this. Others I am not so sure about. The noise will wind down over time.

    Great to see you yesterday Enzo and thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak my mind in the social media world.

  3. Great read, both the article and the comments. A wonderful window into the world of football.

  4. Well said, Jim. I’ve come into Franklin Utd from the other side, Pukekohe. One of the massive frustrations I had over the years was watching talented youngsters coming up through the age-group teams, only to leave for “bigger” clubs.
    I’m excited, and honoured, to be a part of Franklin Utd because we’re trying to create a situation where those youngsters don’t have to leave the area in order to chase the carrot of NRFL football. A large percentage of our U19s squad are lads who’ve returned to Franklin this year from other Clubs outside the area. This has shown me that there is a desire for young players to stay in this area if there are opportunities here for them. I can’t see how creating that pathway can be viewed as a bad thing.

  5. Very interesting read from Enzo and also from Jimmy, someone who has coached myself and I have also been able to skin at a couple of trainings and played with as well. Someone I have a lot of respect for. I see both sides here, playing for the badge of waiuku for a few years and being a rowdy supporter on the deck and interested watcher when I couldn’t down there it is disappointing to see the club merged in the northern league. But in saying that I can see that a path for young budding footballers is the way forward and a merge with pukekohe would widen the base for player numbers for talent.Some say I would be sitting on the fence.
    I have always believed in the theory go big or go home. And in this case for football in this area maybe this is what is needed.
    Reality is that despite the fact we live in a growing area, young people want to see the world, go to uni etc and sport can take the back seat. Correct me if I’m wrong but are Manukau city looking down the track at putting a bid for the NZ football league. If so, I believe that is an outstanding idea. Counties Manukau has the biggest talent pool in New Zealand for sport and this is something that Manurewa, Papakura, Franklin Utd and others should be looking to create to provide stepping stones for the kids of area. I’m sure it’s a point of debate, and politics may never make it work, but giving players the opportunity to represent there area in a national comp is surely the way forward for not only Franklin but the Counties Manukau. I will be following the Franklin Utd side with a heavy heart, but with plenty of interest and I wish them the best of luck in achieving there goals not only this year but the next 15 and beyond.

  6. Thanks for your article Enzo – always an interesting and informed read from around the game. This is the first time I have contributed to such a forum, I’ve had my fair share of abuse on the Northern league forum but never found it necessary to post or reply. As for the current discussion I feel it only appropriate for a descenting voice on the FU set up. i am absolutely amazed at how a club like Waiuku can be torn apart in a little less than 5 months. The concept was discussed between the two clubs many years ago but nothing came of it – Puke were then in the Northern League and Waiuku in the Counties League. The haste at which the latest concept has been pushed thru is doomed for failure. If those with vested interests had any valid or genuine concern about Counties youth and development paths then I believe Waiuku until 18 months ago had every thing in place – Puke a dismal second for player development. If things had got so desperate as Jim has suggested why had this not been common knowledge. Surely if this concept of pathways and development is to work then starting from the other end ie under 17 and under 19 (Tams result on Sunday with the under 19’s may reinforce that) We had a first team squad that was competing in the Northern league, players coming and going is just a fact of life in Waiuku and has been for many many years. All the corporate lingo about “change being good” and spouting tired old cliche’ like the “Just Do It” means nothing I was not prepared for the amount of anger and frustration on Saturday from Waiuku people, people who have been at the club for years and years, I took a photo of a guy who has been there for close to forty years, probably scored in excess of 200 goals for the club, Why weren’t people like him involved in the planning, what about the people on the deck every week, again many of them supporters for years – don’t they have a stake in Waiuku’s future. Then to the game, if that is opening pathways and developing youth then the Emperor has no clothes, paying mercenary Indians to field a so called Franklin United is a tragedy. Comments around people moving away from the game or taking up other hobbies are naive as well, there are families of three generations down at Massey every Saturday involved in one capacity or another, being a supporter on the side line is no less value to the club than a fee playing player. My own grandson starts his first season this year so the cycle of involvement in the game continues. This debacle has destroyed a club I have been involved with for 25 years – add to that 25 years of visits in various capacities as a player and coach before that. Waiuku AFC deserves better than the deluded vision of a couple of mus-guided from the fringes of the real football family. I will though continue my “hobby” this Saturday to promote Waiuku AFC.

  7. I’ve been very lucky to have enjoyed the Pukekohe vs Waiuku rivalry for about 20 years. All from the easy side of the white line, as a player. Anyone that puts themselves forward for the difficult jobs and hassle of administering, coaching and management jobs have my total respect.
    What Jim and the Waiuku first team have achieved in the past is nothing short of inspiring. The work Jim, Dale, Mike and the many others that have created Franklin United, and the motivations that have driven them to do so, will get my support whenever I can.
    The best things we do are rarely the easiest. Keep up the great work.

%d bloggers like this: