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Different different!

WaiBOP 3, Auckland 1
John Kerkhof Park, Cambridge, November 20 2016

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“After what I saw yesterday out at Long Bay, they should swap the AFF U16 squad with the NWL team – they would trounce WAIBOP :}”
– ‘Dave’ on the Northern League Forum

Picture the scene. It’s John Kerkhof Park, Cambridge. The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and a Helen Arjomandi-less WaiBOP football team is up against a strong Auckland side. Helen can’t play. It’s the under 16 national league… She should have started lying about her age years ago…

I was there primarily because one of the dads from the Auckland squad got in touch with me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I would be keen to watch his daughter’s team in action.

One reason I thought this was a great idea was because I like watching this kind of age group – be it boys or girls. I find it can be quite entertaining when the audacity of youth means that players try things they might not dream of doing later in life when cooler heads (or coaches) have taken over.

If I’m honest though, the main reason I was keen was to see this fabled Auckland team in action in light of the quote above and a few others like it on the Northern League Forum…

It’s a bit more relaxed at this level.

For example, I have been known to engage in the odd Twitter flame war over numbers on shorts. They make life so much better for me when players I photograph are easier to identify from the front. Apparently kit-men have a different view of the world… They would have loved this game! No numbers on shorts (not ones that mean anything anyway), no numbers on shirts, no numbers at all and no team sheets either! Savagery.

The only thing that definitely wasn’t more relaxed than the National Women’s League was the standard of the photography equipment on display. The ‘parent with expensive camera to player ratio’ was much higher than I’m used to. I found myself in a long line-up of paparazzi that gave me the distinct impression I wasn’t invited here because there was a shortage of good snaps!

They were all very nice people though and it was interesting to hear a bit about some of the players and get some behind the scenes gossip.

There was also a great game of football to take in! There were a smattering of players on both sides that I know from their winter exploits. The most recognisable figures amongst them were Auckland’s strike weapon Britney Cunningham Lee, who needs no introduction, and the Capo of the WaiBOP National Women’s League Ultras, Tiana Hill, at the defensive end for the locals. Both made quite an impact with the attacking danger Cunningham Lee creates up against the dogged defending of Hill combined with the Claudelands Rover making the odd barnstorming foray into the attacking third of her own!

It was end-to-end action throughout. Auckland took the lead very early on in the game and then it took until towards the end of the first half for parity to be restored via an impressive long range free kick from Hill. Her run-up was impressive in itself – if she was a fast bowler she would have been pushing off the boundary fence – and it flew like a bullet straight into the back of the net.

After that there was still enough first half injury time for WaiBOP to complete their comeback and we went into the break with the score at 2-1 in their favour. A goalkeeping error saw WaiBOP’s lead doubled to 3-1 about fifteen minutes into the second half, and the home side managed to park the bus for the remaining 25 minutes and close out the game.

The moral of the story is this: Poor old ‘Northern League Forum Dave’ isn’t the only nincompoop who should be singled out for mockery on account of writing utterly ridiculous things on the internet…

“The other unbreakable law of WaiBOP is just when you think things are going well, that’s definitely when you should expect certain doom.”
– Me. Yesterday.

As always with all things WaiBOP – I may be a bit of a perpetual misery guts but I’m always very happy to be proved wrong.

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.

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