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Dominance & Decline

Ramon Tribuletx and Matt Calcott

“Tag, you’re it!”

Into the NZFC final we went. We were on a roll, not having lost a game since January 2015.

We were beaten. Matt Calcott shrewdly noting the Auckland back four was relatively untested as a unit, potentially wobbly under pressure. It wasn’t quite the fall of Del Bosque’s tiki-taka steamroller to Van Gaal’s Netherlands, but it showed that a Tribulietx team could be beaten. It just took time, and an opportunity.

I’ve never supported a team that wins as much as Auckland City does. So when we lose, when we’re beaten like TeeDubs beat us in the Grand Final – it’s a reminder that all periods of dominance end, every club goes into decline. The plight of the ‘massive clubs’ dwelling in the lower leagues in England, post-Fergie United, the Liverpool title drought, and even Waitakere United. In time, everything ends.

Waitakere #2

The once fortress that is Fred Taylor.

Time is a constant, and one of the most essential parts of the game. Time wasting, time added on and extra time – as Western Sydney Wanderers and Brisbane Roar found out – shape the course of the game, compress the events. Checking your watch, checking notoriously unreliable scoreboards, glancing to the top left of the screen – there’s time to come back, to get back into it, to hold on, to grab another one. It only takes a second to score a goal. Or to miss one.

Winning is intoxicating, it’s a high. But like alcohol, nicotine and more illicit substances, it’s temporary. Which is also why it’s so enjoyable, so addictive, because deep down every supporter knows that it won’t last. But winning, combined with dominance over time leads to a lazy, illogical assumption that it’ll last forever. Ask United supporters, ask Arsenal fans, ask Jose Mourinho.

It’ll happen eventually, the end of Ramon’s trophy laden time at Auckland City. But it’s seldom in the nature of supporters to look too far beyond the last trophy and the next fixture. The general assumption in the stands is that Ivan Vicelich will finally draw the curtain on his playing career and take over, his presence on the bench this season an apprenticeship of sorts.

Ivan Vicelich

“Tag, you’re it!”

But even with succession in place, it’ll be different and there’ll be a transition. Assuming, of course, that Ramon hasn’t built a working replica of the Nou Camp, La Masia and all, in suburban Sandringham – but even the unstoppable Barca rippled between Guardiola, Vilanova, Martino and Enrique.

Time is constant, but then so is change. Even now Tasman United are seeking to recruit their first NZFC squad, players in Hamilton and Auckland look to impress Hamilton Wanderers and Eastern Suburbs. With the Auckland stranglehold on the championship trophy finally broken this year, there’s a lot of potential in the 2016/17 season.

After all, everybody wants to be Leicester these days.

It’ll happen eventually, the downfall of the Auckland empire. For City’s supporters, that means enjoying it while it lasts because it won’t, it never does. But it lasts for just long enough to be enjoyed. For their opponents, it’s not simply a case of waiting though. There’s a lot of work to be done and a lot of time to do it in. Because you never know when another opportunity will occur, given time.

Categories: NZ Men's National League

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John Palethorpe

John Palethorpe lives in South Auckland which is very far away from Fratton Park and Champion Hill. Having been told there was no football in New Zealand, he was delighted to find that there is.

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