[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”. Half joking, I told them they could call the series ‘Enzo’s Rant’ and to my surprise they agreed! I will publish each one here the week after it has appeared in print. Here’s episode 2.]
You greedy sods! You already have three of them, what makes you think you deserve a fourth team in the Stirling Sports Premiership?
I know what you’re thinking – “Auckland is where it’s all at. If you can’t even get a decent latte between Ellerslie and Petone, how on earth are you going to find any half decent footballers in that vast cultural desert? And that’s before we even start talking about the South Island.”
But hold on to your gluten free bagels Aucklanders, there might be one or two things you need to consider before taking your divine right to more teams as absolute gospel.
First of all, do the maths. When you have under a third of the population, shouldn’t you have a third of the teams at the most? Currently at three out of ten, Auckland is roughly on quota. If the league was to expand again to twelve teams at some stage in the future we would then have a strong case for one more – but the recent competitions review made it clear that another round robin is a much higher priority than more teams.
If you base a ten team competition solely on population in this country, there should be roughly one team for every 450,000 people. So Auckland deserves roughly three. Wellington gets no more than one even though they currently have two. The South Island are lucky to have three when they only have the population for two and a bit – and that leaves a lot of the rest of the North Island pretty solidly short changed.
As things stand, if for some reason a current team like Southern or Hamilton dropped out – to replace them with a team from South Auckland or the North Shore would rightly cause rioting in the provinces. So the only path for representation for those two currently neglected areas of Auckland looks to be the demise of a current Auckland team. In other words we’ve got to rob Peter if we want to pay Paul.
And growing the game in the provinces is important! No, really, it is. Are you really happy that in the last 12 years the trophy has only been out of Auckland once? Doesn’t it get boring for you? It certainly does for me and a lot of other fans too. How many Wynton Rufers of the future from the two thirds of the population with no access to good lattes are off playing some other mass participation sport in their region, like gumboot tossing, because there was no winning football team nearby to inspire them?
The hardships endured by kids in South Auckland or the North Shore who don’t have a so-called “pathway” to a National League franchise because mummy or daddy have to drive them to West, Central or East Auckland are nothing compared to the distances kids from Gisborne, New Plymouth or Palmerston North have to cover as things stand.
But if you think that argument is just a load of inclusive pinko PC dairy farmer loving nonsense, consider the flip side. Don’t we want to keep the gravy train going? During Auckland’s period of dominance the two big city clubs we’ve had until now have gone to a long succession of Club World Cups and brought home in excess of ten million dollars in prize money. Why would we want to dilute Auckland talent any further in light of that?
No! Too many good things come in threes like hat-tricks, wise men, little piggies, and examples in a sentence. Keep it at three I say!
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.