[I was honoured when, a couple of months ago, Eastern Suburbs asked me to contribute a regular match day programme column for the duration of their first season back in the national league football fray. My brief was to be “slightly controversial or provocative”. This was music to my ears! I have been asked to write programme columns for other clubs a few times in the past, only to have my eventual submissions rejected because they aren’t bland enough. Half joking, I told ESAFC they could call this series ‘Enzo’s Rant’ and to my surprise they agreed! I will publish each one here the week after it has appeared in print. Below is the first edition.]
It’s the age old question that has occupied the thoughts of so many of humanity’s deepest thinkers. Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Confucius, since the dawn of time all the great minds from every generation have turned their collective wisdom towards settling, once and for all, the universe’s greatest riddle: What exactly is the best time of year to play New Zealand’s premier elite football competition – winter or summer?
This may seem like a simple problem to solve on the surface, but in reality it throws up all sorts of existential questions that delve deep into the heart of the meaning of life, such as which do you prefer:
Hay fever or flu?
Skin cancer or pneumonia?
Dust or mud?
Mosquito bites or frostbite?
Barbequed sausages or cuppa soup?
Heat and humidity or wind and rain?
But when all is said and done, it really all depends on who you want to keep happy…
Players, administrators or fans.
I haven’t done any scientific research into this, but I suspect summer suits players quite well. They get to keep fit and play all year round and in summer the surfaces are harder, flatter and more conducive to testing their silky skills. Some might say they need a break, but there’s nothing stopping them having one by prioritising which competition they most want to play in and skipping one of them.
Administrators find summer football a nightmare. There’s no rest for the wicked when football, and all the form filling and babysitting that goes with it, goes on and on for 12 months of the year and never dies. Everything would be in winter if it was up to this interesting breed of specimens! Up to and including Christmas.
So that gives fans the casting vote and I can tell you what that vote is without any shadow of a doubt! It is simply this: Whenever, wherever and however you decide to organise a game of football, I will bet you a dollar for every ounce of José Mourinho’s ego that us fans will find something to moan about regardless. Trust me, New Zealand Football, you can’t win so don’t even bother trying.
The national league is currently a summer competition and there are complaints that it’s all wrong, nobody comes because the beach is too inviting, the teams aren’t the ones they support in the winter, it’s too hot, and there are too many other summer sports to compete with.
We don’t know how good we’ve got it. How many countries are there where fans would kill for football all year round? 195 to be absolutely precise, unless you don’t count Taiwan. How could we ever consider, for one second, changing this football utopia we’ve got going here?
People will always find reasons why things aren’t working, while we often take the things that aren’t broken completely for granted.
If there’s anyone who would honestly rather watch football with the ball being hoofed around on a bed of mud, in the rain, huddled up in temperatures below ten degrees, as opposed to on a warm day in the sunshine on a flat surface then I honestly feel sorry for them! But if they really do feel that way then there is plenty of winter football for them to watch without moving the summer stuff! Let’s be honest – no New Zealand football is exactly UEFA Champions League Standard so NRFL shouldn’t be slumming it too much for them.
Keep the highest level stuff we’ve got playing in the golden weather.
And while you’re at it – let the Waikato team win every now and again.
Categories: NZ Men's National League
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.