WaiBOP 1, Canterbury United Pride 6
John Kerkhof Park, Cambridge, November 20 2016
Picture the scene. It’s John Kerkhof Park, Cambridge. The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and the National Women’s League is set up beautifully. WaiBOP are unbeaten after four of their six games. The semi-finals are within our grasp! They are about to play a top Canterbury United side today. It’s a tough assignment for sure but, assuming Capital go down to top of the table Northern (a mere formality surely), a point here will almost certainly be enough to clinch a rare semi-final berth.
As I look out across the squad as it’s being adeptly put through its paces by coach Barry Gardiner, I see a lean, slick, Waikato/Bay of Plenty fighting machine warming up. They look ready to take on the world and win. I just need to check one thing…
“Is that… No, that’s not her. That’s not her either. Neither is that… Nor that, nor that, nor that… Oh, oh…….. Hey Dwayne, where’s Helen Arjomandi? Stuck in traffic? Otherwise running late? Back in the dressing room putting the final spit polish on her boots?? No? Not playing at all. Oh… that’s… swell…”
Apparently WaiBOP’s chief weapon (apart from fear, surprise and fancy red uniforms – all of which they also possess) was always going to miss this game due to prior commitments. I must admit I felt a little bit irritated by this given that Helen featured prominently in the pre-game publicity. She was interviewed in the Waikato Times for their preview of the fixture, and she features in two of the three photos in the match-day programme.
And I have written many times before about the effect Arjomandi’s absence seems to have on teams she plays for. Since the Punic Wars, there have always been two completely different kinds of WaiBOP teams – ones with Helen in them and ones without. When ones without play teams like the Canterbury United Pride, no good tends to come of it…
The other unbreakable law of WaiBOP is just when you think things are going well, that’s definitely when you should expect certain doom.
There was a brief moment early in the second half when I didn’t think things were so bad… Macey Fraser and Aimee Phillips had put the visitors two goals to the good before the break, but when Leah Gubb cut the deficit in half I very briefly felt that wonderful feeling deep in the pit of my stomach – hope. But it lasted approximately thirty seconds. All we had done was make them angry. Phillips doubled her tally right off the restart then before you could say ‘oh bloody hell’ Holly Pascoe had two, and Rebecca Lake had completed the rout.
But that was ok, because we were still in the box seat for a playoff spot! The rules say if two teams are level on points it’s decided on yellow cards after head to head goal difference and Capital, who WaiBOP drew 2-2 with, have seen yellow twice to WaiBOP’s once. All we needed was for the invincible force that is Northern to do their job down in Wellington, then we would just have to make sure we didn’t pick up any cards against Northern ourselves next week, and then all would be well in the world!
One job! Northern had ONE JOB!!!
One bloody job…
Oh well, it’s not over is it? WaiBOP still have their destiny in their own hands. If Capital can do it, so can we. Win at QBE number three next week and not only will the job be done but Cambridge might yet even get to host a semi-final or final!
I don’t know if Helen will be there or not but I sure will be! Not expecting miracles but still hoping to be shocked by the other kind of WaiBOP team…
Categories: NZ Women'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.