Tauranga City United 2, Forrest Hill Milford 3
Links Avenue, Mount Maunganui, July 24 2016
I am really torn about this.
I want to write about my trip over the Kaimai Hills to Tauranga City United and Links Avenue. I want to write about the wonderful hospitality that they afforded me there. I want to write about how they invited me into their ‘Koru Lounge’ – a tiny little kitchen area for VIP guests with a beer fridge, chip butties and great yarns with ex-players!
I want to write about how, while I was there, my thoughts kept turning to Dave Cook and wondering if his ghost was around here somewhere… Maybe in that Koru Lounge having a yarn with some other Mount Maunganui stalwarts of the past…
I want to write about this exciting, thrill a minute football game that I was treated to! One in which the visitors came back from a Jerahl Hughes goal down to lead 2-1 at the break thanks to a wind assisted Chris Bale free kick from close to half way that went straight in, and a Ben Roberts goal that nutmegged the keeper. I want to write about the disallowed equaliser before the break, I want to write about Ryan De Vries’s conter attacking goal that looked to have sealed his side’s victory with less than ten minutes left, and I want to write about Logan Crawford’s injury time goal that breifly gave the home side a whif of a draw but was ultimately too little too late.
But, as I said at the start, I’m torn.
TCU’s opponents today were Forrest Hill Milford – entirely by accident. I promise I didn’t drive all the way to the Bay of Plenty just to give myself a licence to rant about FHM, even though that is the sort of thing I would do… I was in Tauranga on family business on Sunday and had long planned to hop across the harbour while I was there to take in this game.
I’m torn because last week a Facebook friend of mine shared a page from the fundraising website ‘Givealittle’. The page’s purpose is to raise money to send the Forrest Hill Milford women’s first team to Christchurch to compete in the semi-final of New Zealand’s premier women’s cup competition because “unfortunately our club does not have the funds to pay…”
It’s the almost universal view of the Auckland football community that Forrest Hill Milford pays their men’s first team players. Nobody can prove it of course, because this is how club sport (not just football) works in this country. It’s strictly amateur, but clubs get around this by, amongst other things, ‘employing’ players in other capacities or getting sponsors to pay them directly. So when you ask them “do you pay your players” they will always say “no, it is THEY who pay US subs not the other way around!” For some clubs this might be true, for others it definitely isn’t.
I’ve said on this blog before that I don’t have a particular problem with player payments, and I genuinely don’t. Where my problem lies is when I was told a few weeks ago, admittedly second hand but it wasn’t the paperboy I can assure you, that one FHM men’s first team player is being paid $1,000 per game. The thought of male players at the club being paid up to $1,000 a week to play while the women’s first team are being told they have to raise the money themselves to fly to a national cup semi-final makes my blood boil to say the least.
And I strongly suspect it makes the blood of most, if not all, of those involved in the FHM women’s first team rise to a fairly high temperature as well.
It’s a very bad look for the club.
The problem is though, that I can’t really write about any of this either!
Because the competition is amateur and because player payments are all under the table, this is all innuendo and hearsay. Nobody from FHM (or any other club for that matter) will ever admit that they pay players. And on the flip side of the coin, even if a club official tells me and everyone reading this that they categorically don’t do it – I won’t believe them.
In my perfect world, the rules would be changed to make payer payments legal. That way we could get this entire issue out in the open and talk about the trade-offs with facts at our disposal instead of rumours.
In the meantime, I encourage readers to click on the link below and donate. And if any men’s first team players from FHM or anywhere else want to contribute some of their football income, that would be great too…
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.