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A moveable feast

Auckland 5, Central 1
Riverhills… No, wait, Michaels Avenue, Auckland, November 13 2016

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It’s funny, the little things from childhood that stick in the mind. I don’t remember much about the experience of playing organised football for the first time, at Huntly Thistle, when I was around 6 or 7 years old. Only two things stand out. I remember that I played quite well and was mentioned in the local paper as having done so (my career was all downhill from there I can assure you) and I also remember something my coach said to me right before my debut appearance. “Son, just remember one thing. The only thing that matters in this game is the ball. You don’t need anything else to play football. You don’t really need goal posts or nets or any other equipment of any kind. Why, you don’t even need grass!”

That information has stuck in my brain like glue. It is the iron law that anchors my football knowledge. At least it was… After today, I really don’t know if anything in life is true anymore…

It all became unravelled when I arrived at Riverhills Park at around 1:30 today to watch Auckland take on Central in the National Women’s League – a game that was due to kick off at 2pm.

I was greeted by the news that the refs were conferring with New Zealand Football officials about the state of the pitch. There were some big brown bumpy patches in the northern third that were causing serious concern in terms of player safety.

Of course, the game had already been moved once. It was due to take place at William Green Domain, but was moved to Riverhills because Eastern Suburbs needed a place to play their men’s national league game against Waitakere United. Yes, you read that right, the women’s national league got bumped to another venue because the men’s national league wanted the ground they were scheduled to play on. And then it turned out that the ground the women were fobbed off to had more holes in it than the plot of a Dan Brown novel… Not impressed…

After a long conference in the middle of the pitch and a few hurried phone calls, the decision was made that my old coach was an idiot, I have been living a lie for 34 years, and we were all off to a venue that had some grass to play on – albeit of the synthetic variety with a healthy dose of tyre rubber thrown into the equation.

The other thing that was completely debunked today is the former prevailing opinion that I have quite a good sense of direction. Grant Stantiall and half the Central coaching staff were meant to be following me to Michaels Ave as we all thought I knew the way but after waving away Gina’s offer to set the GPS I took a wrong turn and led everyone on Cook’s Tour of East Auckland… Ooops.

Nevertheless we got there in the end and arrived in Ellerslie with plenty of time to get ready for a kick-off that was delayed by 45 minutes.

The game itself was a bottom of the table clash, but after a tough start to the season Auckland were always favoured to get the points. I picked 4-0 before the game and it turned out I was much closer to the mark than my US election prediction was earlier in the week…

Alosi Bloomfield got things started with a nice strike from in front inside the first fifteen minutes. The lead was doubled just before half time when Leah Mettam whipped in a corner that, amongst a goalmouth melee, found itself sneaking in at the near post. Goal was awarded to Mettam but I’m saying oggie.

Despite the two goal deficit, Central didn’t look a million miles away and were rewarded for their toil with a penalty converted by Hannah Robert in the early stages of the second half. But after that it was one way traffic with a Tessa Leong double and a nice header from Annie Byrne off another Mettam corner giving us a final score of 5-1.

In other results, WaiBOP overcame Southern and Canterbury dispatched Capital to set up an enthralling race to the finish for those three teams. WaiBOP have a tough run home with games against Canterbury and then Northern while Capital has Northern next and then ends the regular season with a bye. If all those games go according to form, WaiBOP and Capital will finish level on points. Their head to head game was a draw.

Last week I alluded to goal difference being important but a reading of the competition rules has cast doubt on that. It may come down to yellow cards! I will seek confirmation on that and if it’s true, I will also find out how many cautions each side has received.

I’ll let you know the results of my enquiries next week, when I’ll be back in Cambridge for a game that WaiBOP might well need a point from to stay in the hunt!

Either way, I can confirm that the game will be played on grass and I do know the way to John Kerkhof Park. Everything else is open to question though…

Categories: NZ Women's National League

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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.

6 replies

  1. I actually laughed out loud at the bit that you got lost..

    RE the moving of games, feel free to seek better info but I believe suburbs went through a lengthy process to avoid moving the women’s game but NZF declined their options and left Fencies with little choice. (SSP was declined at Riverhills).

    Of course we were happy to help out but it was an unfortunate situation for everyone.

  2. Never rely on Hamiltonians who live in West Auckland to know their way around East Auckland…

    Seems off that Riverhills was deemed not good enough for the men but was fine (initially) for the women’s national league.

  3. i don’t know the ins and outs of that – but i guess i wanted to point out Fencibles for their part were just trying to host both games – and this was supposed to be the only way to achieve that. considering Riverhills has been a good pitch in the past makes me a little surprised it wasn’t up to scratch?

  4. yeah i saw – didn’t look fantastic. Also not sure Riverhills was declined for SSP due to the pitch – the application was ages ago (like end of the season) so pitch would have been better then maybe?

  5. Thanks should go to Ellerslie for their assistance in what was an emergency situation. However Fencibles get a red card for their treatment of the Women’s National League when they first had the booking for the ground months ago. Greed on their part for trying to get both games. Looking at the scoreboard it would appear that Ellerslie may have a better option for the Eastern Suburbs game. However the blame can’t be laid completely at Fencibles feet as presumeably NZ Football had to agree to this change. The Riverhills pitch was a bumpy, covered in branches from the trees and at one point with a metal gate pointing towards the field (ideal for a player to be impaled on!). All in all this was a total debacle and unfortuantely sums up NZ Footballs attitude to womens football (unless the win of course). The scheduling of games this year has been aweful. Recently NZ Women’s U20’s were playing at the same time as the Federation games. Did no-one think some of the Fed players may want to see those teams they aspire to be in?

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