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They’re baaaaaaack!

Waitakere City 6, Hibiscus Coast 0
Fred Taylor Park, Auckland, August 13 2016

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A New Zealand football division at the top of the pyramid that doesn’t include Waitakere City? We have lived through that previously unthinkable situation for one season but, let’s face it, it was never going to last any longer than that.

Barely a year since they were relegated from the Northern Regional Football League – Premier Division – they have not only won promotion back there on the first attempt but they have been crowned champions of the second tier with three games to spare. And that’s without mentioning the fact that they also remain in with a chance of doing the rare Division One/Chatham Cup double! These Westies are now well and truly back where they belong.

The game that clinched the title for them was a microcosm of their season – well and truly a cut above their opposition and playing some lovely silky football in the process. Hibiscus Coast never got a serious look in.

There was barely ten minutes on the clock before Dylan Manickum opened the scoring and within another ten minutes he had two. Jake Butler bludgeoned home a close range goal just a few short minutes later and the game was effectively killed off before the half hour mark. Manickum slotted a penalty on the stroke of half time to send his side into the sheds with a 4-0 lead and complete his first half hat-trick while he was at it.

The second half wasn’t the greatest as the game had clearly lost its edge what with being over as a competitive contest and all… Josh Armitt took the score to 5-0 in the 73rd minute when he tidied up the scraps of a Manickum shot that was well saved by Hibiscus Coast keeper John Fletcher. Then, with thirteen minutes left, Olusegan Rotimi scored maybe the prettiest goal of the game with a nice little one touch flick over the advancing figure of Fletcher to well and truly ice the cake.

I always get a kick out of trophy presentations. They never fail to get me grinning from ear to ear. The joy on the faces of players as they celebrate the achievement of everything they have worked so hard towards is infectious. In a division with a whole lot of good teams in it and a prize at the end that they all want to win, everyone deserves to celebrate silverware but only one team can achieve it. Some players wait their whole careers to do it once, some never taste it.

The thing that makes a football goal the most beautiful and emotional in-game moment in the world of sport is its rareness compared to a rugby try or a basketball hoop. When it happens it’s a thing worth celebrating. Seeing your team lift a trophy magnifies that feeling a hundred times over.

Waitakere City are not my team (Even though at only five minutes’ drive away from my house they are arguably my local club) but I still really enjoyed watching them succeed yesterday.

But the huge question now really is – can they beat Premier Division title contenders Three Kings United in their semi-final that’s looming in a fortnight’s time? And, in so-doing, can they take one step closer to lifting the ultimate piece of New Zealand football silverware – the Chatham Cup?

I haven’t seen Three Kings this season, but solely based on what I’ve seen of Waitakere the answer has to be yes. And furthermore I hope they do manage it. They are playing such nice football and to see a Division one team win the cup would be quite cool, even if it is the Auld Enemy from a Waikato perspective.

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 1

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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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