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Taupo 1, Manukau City 3
Crown Park, Taupo, May 14 2016

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We all know about the romance of the Chatham Cup – if I write about it one more time I might even make myself puke. We all know that it pits the big boys against minnows, we know that anything can happen on the day, and we know [insert any other cliché you like here]. But did you know that it also brings people together – forging peace between warring nations (such as Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington), and reunites royal football dynasties?

Well that’s what it did on Saturday in Taupo!

It started with a random thought on Twitter. Let’s see if we can pick a fixture somewhere convenient that fans could converge on from all four corners of the island to get together, meet in real life instead of only ever conversing on social media, and provide a bit of something extra for the two teams that are playing.

We didn’t get the mass of singing and pyro we had hoped to organise, but in terms of alternative media it was almost certainly the most well covered Chatham Cup game in history!

We had two bloggers – myself, and Dave Webster of ‘The Journeyfan’ fame. And in addition to Dave and I taking pictures we also had proper photographers Michael Welsh and Grant Stantiall. Including partners there were seven of us and not only was it wonderful to catch-up and chew the fat with such a dedicated bunch of proper like-minded footballaholic nutcases who are all at least as crazy as me if not more, but we also got a superb afternoon of the game we all love to indulge in to boot!

But it wasn’t all about us. This was also a special fixture that brought together the royal houses of Fallon and Herbert! Their paths crossed when Kevin Fallon coached Ricki Herbert as part of the All White team that went to the 1982 World Cup. They crossed again when Ricki Herbert coached Kevin’s son Rory Fallon as part of the All White team that went to the 2010 World Cup. And now there’s new link in the chain with Kevin Fallon coaching Manukau City against Taupo AFC – in turn coached by Ricki’s son Kale Herbert.

Am I the only one who feels like there’s a hint of Blackadder to all of this?

The most common question I have been asked since Saturday by far has been quite simply this: “Is Kale like his old man?” I wonder, though, if that is perhaps the sort of question that probably drives him up the wall… So I won’t compare him with Ricki. I’ll just say instead that my impression of watching him in action is that he’s a passionate guy who showed a full range of emotions from anger to compassion. Tactically his side looked well organised, even though they were clearly beaten by a better side – as they should be given they play two divisions below Manukau. Despite that however they had plenty of young sharp looking talent and I am sure that under Kale’s guidance, Taupo will be going places fast!

As for Fallon’s Manukau, they went into the fixture missing their star striker Ubaldo Espinoza but his absence was more than made up for by a pretty well taken hat-trick by Andre Estay! His third goal in particular was one for the ages! He took a free kick from ten meters inside the Taupo half and right by the sideline, and hot damn if he didn’t loop it straight in! In Fallon’s aftermatch speech he said “if David Beckham had scored that goal it would have made headlines all over the world” – I’m not sure I’d quite go along with that, the keeper was off his line, but it still took some scoring and it certainly was something!

If the day wasn’t already memorable enough, that certainly added to an occasion I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.

Good football, great company, tall tales – what more could anyone ask for?

For more on this game make sure you check out:

Grant’s Flickr album here.

Michael’s Facebook album here.

Dave’s Flickr album here.

And, last but definitely not least, Dave’s blog post here.

Categories: NZ Chatham Cup

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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.

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