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Around the Forums – Chatham Cup predictions

Tom Schwarz giving the Chatham Cup a wee smooch

Welcome to another edition of ‘Around the Forums’ – a regular(ish) post where I read the online football forums so you don’t have to! You’re welcome.

This started out being a monthly thing but it has now morphed into something I do whenever I can be bothered. And today happens to be the first day in over six months when I have decided I can be bothered! Why? Because it’s coming up to Chatham Cup Final time. I’m excited, many of you are excited, and my interest has been piqued by some of the bold online predictions a lot of people have been making.

So what follows is an Around the Forums Special – if you will – compiling as many interesting predictions as I can find into one place so that afterwards we can all point and laugh at those of us who inevitably get it horribly wrong…

One of the central themes of this collection of thoughts are the interesting concepts of favouritism and underdog ststus. What do they mean, and are they important? What makes a favourite and do players really care if they are favourites to win a game or not. Some coaches try to play mind games with their opposition by trying to position themselves as underdogs – but does it work? And when you have a team in a cup final who plays in a lower division – does that automatically make them underdogs?

On that last question, ‘who is spartacus’ from the Yellow Fever forum doesn’t think so…

“My thoughts are that Birkenhead are the underdogs for the final and I hope they get the support of all the other clubs as Waitakere City have dominated Auckland football for a few years recently.”

‘horseshead21’ respectfully disagrees though…

“You have shown again your lack of insight by trying to claim Waitakere as favourites even though they are in the second division. Numpty.”

‘Buffon II’ was quick to leap to the earlier commenter’s defence though…

“Waitak have a pretty strong team, regardless of what division they are in this season there are a lot of good players in that squad.  Would only make Birko slight favourites but I think it’s too close to call.”

Not that ‘who is spartacus’ wasn’t perfectly capable of sticking up for himself…

“Waitak 3 times winners and finals appearances  in 1999, 2004 and 2013 of the Chatham Cup. Waitak gave 3 kings a 6-1 embarrassment “according to your standards” who are near the top Premier League and Waitak have not lost a game in their own Div 1 (not second div) just below the top Premier Div this year. Burkenhead (sic) have a quarter final loss to Lower Hutt and have just managed to get into the top league in the last few years. So Waitak in my opinion has had some form history in Auckland and are favourites in my opinion. From NUMPTY……”

Then it was time for ‘accrington stanley’ to weigh in…

“You can’t even spell BIRKENHEAD so maybe numpty is correct. And for your information Birkenhead have been in the top league for many years and only lost in the semi-final last year on penalties. Having said that Waitakere CITY have very little form in the Premier League as they usually finish in the bottom half. They did get relegated last year but have had a good run this year and been promoted with games to spare, but Birko also beat 3 Kings the previous week in the league. Not that it really matters but I think anyone that knows anything about the NRFL would have Birko as firm favourites.”

The debate was heating up, and so that could only mean one thing! ‘chopah’ in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1……..

“I have watched them [Birko] several times this year – for me their strength is their midfield – Burfoot, Morgan, Jack might fly back, Salter, Boss.  If they have a weakness it’s probably in the centre forward position, Jarrod Smith is very good but lacks a bit of x-factor and Ethan has buckets of x-factor but is a bit of a risk in terms of getting a silly booking or two.  In the game against Miramar apart from a 15 min spell in the second half Birko looked reasonably comfortable.  They were going pretty direct at times to Smith and the winger early from deep so was hard to see just how handy their midfield was. I would also say Waitakere’s strength is their midfield – Butler, Rhodes and love him or hate him Hago combine well. It’s hard to pick a favourite but pressure plays a big part and while this is Birko’s first final they have something like 160 Chatham Cup games of experience across their team and they have constantly been under pressure this season, while Waitakere have been able to stroll some games in an slightly less competitive than expected NRFL Div 1 league.”

One last right of reply for ‘who is spartacus’…

“Being in wellington I cannot get to see either team play and can only go on reports and data available from the web. This info and data shows Wiatak have had some success while Birko have been a good development club and have not had the same exposure to finals football like their opponents. And I again will put my preference for the Birkenhead team to change the info and data books and pick up the win from their first final appearance. But I think Waitak are the favourites by a small amount.”

And I’ll give the last word from Yellow Fever to ‘chopah’…

“Waitakere have been in relegation battles in NRFL Prem the last couple of years – finally went down last year (best thing for them IMO) and now have built a good team and are bringing the youth through rather than relying on Waitakere Utd players coming back. Birko, since being promoted in about 2012, have been in the title chase most seasons, have made the Quarters and Semi’s of the Cup in the previous two seasons, they have a very stable core group of players including a group that have won Napier a couple of times and some players who have won the ACFC tournament a couple of times – they are in my opinion the definition of experienced in pressure situations.”

On to Twitter, where I especially asked my 1,400 odd suckers, I mean people who follow me for reasons passing understanding, what their predictions were. Some people chose not to take me seriously…

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This one was a slightly more like it, alluding to the fact that all four of the finalists on Cup Final Day hail from the same federation…

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But one or two others gave straight answers – I’ll leave you to be the judge of which was the more appropriate response. One of the most enthusiastic tweets came from Hamilton Wanderers first team manager and frequent contributor to this blog – Rod de Lisle…

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Despite supplying the Wanderers National League entry with an assistant coach and more than a few players, Birkenhead have been quick to point out that the two clubs have no formal relationship… Hmmmm.

Riccardo Ball, the host of Trackside Radio’s ‘The World of Football’ show, also had a crack…

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Friend of ITBOTN Grant Stantiall was impressed by Birko in the semi-final…

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Sentimental reasons also played a part with mates earning some loyalty…

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And the good old love of an underdog once again…

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I do find it nearly impossible to adjust my brain to Waitakere being any kind of underdog though…

Finally from the Twitteristi, Waikato Times reporter Andrew Voerman had some typically well thought out opinions to offer even if they were in Norwegian…

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I also asked Facebook for its collective wisdom. Here is a selection of the responses…

Waitak v Birko

If pressed to offer an opinion myself, I’m saying Waitakere to win 2-1 after extra time. I have watched both teams play a couple of times each this season and I was particularly impressed with Waitakere City’s lovely passing game. They are very slick and if they had played in the Premier Division this season with their current squad I think they would have been top three. I’m also saying this because I REALLY want Birko to win but don’t want to jinx them…

If your prediction is not featured above, feel free to add it to the comments section.

And roll on the final! Whoever wins I really feel like it’s going to be a cracker. Much excite!

Categories: Around The Forums NZ Chatham Cup

Tagged as:

Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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