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A couple of questions

Wellington Phoenix 4, Hamilton Wanderers 0
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, December 10 2016

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It took ten years for me to witness a Waikato FC/WaiBOP United victory with my own eyes in the franchise based men’s national league. And for a good nine of those ten years of misery, the performances I saw were such that not only did I not get to see a win, but I never really even got to hope for one in my heart of hearts.

Yesterday marked the beginning of a new era. It was my first time watching the latest Waikato national league flag bearer playing in the brave new world we find ourselves in where clubs are in vogue at this level once again.

I was keen to get a couple of questions answered…

Question one: Could Wanderers could pull at my heart strings the way that all of their predecessors have?

And;

Question two: Would this be the old style uncompetitive breed of Waikato football? Or would it be the more recent model that the federation controlled franchise had led me to expect, filling us fans with hope of semi-final football?

On question one, they have some things counting against them. It’s a bit weird. As a fan of Waikato football I have had to build loyalty to a lot of different national league entities through the years – namely Waikato United, Melville United, Waikato FC, WaiBOP United and now Hamilton Wanderers.

The latest incarnation is a club, but at the same time it’s operating like a franchise in some ways. I look at the team sheet and I see players from winter clubs that compete against Wanderers in the NRFL.

The ones that particularly make me raise my eyebrow a little are Aaron Scott and Marc Evans from the supposed mortal enemy – Melville United. It sure was weird seeing those two in Wanderers colours…

On the other side of the coin, there is that healthy dose of Birkenhead United amongst the ranks. If I have a favourite Auckland club it’s the gang from Shepherd’s Park and so this Wanderers/Birko combo is like a match made in heaven for me!

But then I turn my attention to question two… I didn’t expect this to be an easy win, but I did expect a win against one of the league’s weaker teams. Obviously I can’t answer question two based solely on one game. Especially when they have picked up three wins so far this season including what was by all accounts a quality performance against Canterbury United, and a comprehensive demolition of table topping title contenders Eastern Suburbs.

But this was the game I saw and unfortunately it was a little bit woeful. To make matters worse, while I haven’t seen it myself, apparently there were some comments in a Sky Sport post-match interview with one of the players where mention was made of a poor team culture inside the camp.

To say that this is a worry is an understatement.

Next week they play at home in the same stadium they played away in this week… (go figure that)

They are up against a strong Hawkes Bay United side and it will absolutely be a must win game if they want to stay in the hunt for a semi-final place. A strong performance is crucial and, word to the wise, they might want to think about doing a bit of hugging and kissing when they score too, just to show us all how much they love each other…

Because as far as question one is concerned, the fact that I was rather bitter and twisted about the result after the game, and the fact that I am now angsting about whatever comments were made on TV, means that I do care. And I do care a great deal!

Categories: NZ Men's National League

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

9 replies

  1. “…but I did expect a win against one of the league’s weaker teams…”

    Really?

    I think that’s harsh on the WeeNix mate. I agree that LAST year they were one of the league’s weaker teams. However this year their results have been:

    1 – 2 loss at home to EASFC
    2 – 1 win away at TWs
    1 – 1 draw with Tasman
    1 – 4 loss away to CU Dragons
    1 – 0 win at home vs ACFC
    1 – 0 win vs Southern United
    0 – 2 loss to HBU

    And then yesterday’s 4 – 0 win vs, Hamilton Wanderers, which puts them 3 points off the top of the table level on points with 4 other teams on 13.

    In that string of results they narrowly lost in the opening round to the now top of the table EASFC, & beat BOTH of last year’s finalists, TW’s and ACFC.

  2. Hi Enzo. I’vejust watched the match again, on telly, after being there yesterday. I didn’t think our Wanderers boys were 4 goals worse than the Nix. The various comments etc made me doubt my initial impression of the game but no, I stand by it. We put in a fairly good first half and competed well with both teams sharing 3 shots each.

    The Nix were in fact ahead of Wanderers on the table before this game (10 points v 9) and you’d think players on the fringe of only A league side, ie in a professional environment SHOULD be contenders in this league.

    Our Wanderers boys, conversely, are green at this level, working on a shoestring budget and generally finding their feet. Nix didn’t actually score till the 57 minute and their last two goals were in the 88th and 92nd minute, inflating the result somewhat. And one of those was an unfortunate back pass that gifted a goal. A real coach (and fan) killer.

    Aaron Scott utted the post match comments and I think they probably reflected a frustrating afternoon, rather than a dig at the underlying club culture even it was couched that way. A new team like this doesn’t have a culture, it combines two squads (Birko and Wanderers) and a few few add-ons. Culture takes time and Rome (and Wanderers) wasn’t built in a day.

    Enzo, don’t give up on plucky Wanderers: we need support from every quarter, as we build a national league legacy.

    And on an extremely positive note, today our national league youth team in their first season beat the Phoenix (wee wee Nix?) 2-1 to virtually ensure that we win the youth completion (unless we fail to secure at a point against the bottom team in our last game). When was the last time a Waikato club team has won a National Football league?

    Blue Army!

    The comments

  3. My apologies for my mistake about the table positions in the comment above. The points table on the NZF website still hasn’t been updated and I thought that was the post match situation.

    I stand by my assessment that Wanderers were poor on Saturday, particularly in the second half. Even if they only deserved to lose 2-0 it was still a game where I expected 3 points. But that’s only the first game I have seen and I’m looking forward to seeing them show me that it wasn’t a fair sample of their quality. Certainly not giving up on them, I would never do that, and I may be there next week so see how they can bounce back.

    I hope you’re right about the Aaron Scott comments but you have to admit it’s a very worrying sign from a fan’s perspective.

  4. Okay, I want to cut through this sanitised bullshit.

    I was actually delighted to hear honest, robust, blunt post-match comment from a player for once rather than the trite, fatuous boring platitudes you normally get.

    Long may it continue – with all teams.

    Give me honest opinion any day, even if it sounds sour to some ears. There is no bloody point to the post-match stand-ups if talking heads just talk bollocks (like they do in rugby).

    Football is a game of opinions. And as fans we don’t need opinions to be softened for our ears. Tell it like it is.

    Anybody who can’t handle honest opinion shouldn’t be involved at national level, either playing or watching. (And they certainly shouldn’t be reading these blogstering efforts, it will make their eyes hurt.)

    And if you don’t want people to say what they really think, don’t put them in front of a bloody microphone. (It’s not as if Aaron was captain, but he’s been around long enough to know when something ain’t quite right.)

    My take: I thought it was a poor game, Rogerson showed some flashes, Italiano was a good keeper, but mostly it was mince.

    On the question of rivalry, it remains a great motive force, but it regularly gets overstated within a Waikato context. The cross-pollination of players, coaches (Cossey is Melville’s greatest-ever goalscorer, you know) year after year means rivalry is a transient thing at best. And within a summer context, it doesn’t really exist.

    For the record, when my club, Melville, was in the national league, Wanderers were great supporters, to the extent that they had members on the summer league committee. I noted loads of Melville people at the game (Scott Reid, we want your gear back) and they weren’t cheering for the Phoenix.

    But when your team loses, post-mortems go with the territory.

    Give it to us straight, no need to paint it pink. The worst that can happen is that my maladjusted good mate Grant Stantiall gets the hump and throws his toys. 🙂

    1. So as Chairman of Melville if Aaron is playing for your club and he comes out in the media with a scathing attack on the team culture at your club – you’re fine with it? No consequences? And if you are the coach and the team culture is your responsibility you’d have no issues with him going public?

  5. Hello there,

    If Aaron is deemed worthy of being a delegated post-match spokesman, then it seems incongruous to then be lamenting his honestly-held views.

    So, yes, I would accept his robust opinion, even if I was on the end of it.

    Indeed I believe I can recall Azza making some pretty sturdy comments a few years back (2012), and the sun still rose the next morning, and nobody died.

    It reminds me that we’ve had a number of coaches stand up in clubrooms (essentially a public domain) after matches and make quite pointed comments about their own teams.

    I’d like to think we are adult enough to have full-flavoured comments, as long as there are no personalised attacks.

    Why are we so scared of full and frank discussion of issues anyway?

    If people are interested enough to follow via media, why would you want them to NOT hear what players are really thinking.

    And as a former journo I’d like to think that media are covering sport for the benefit of watchers/readers, rather than officials, or the code’s hierarchy.

    But that’s just me, of course.

    Welcome the views of others who prefer to hear carefully worded non-statements, platitudes and cliches after matches. Or prefer to hear from players with nothing to say.

    1. I see your point but as a fan of the team in question, I am listening to post-match comments for honest insight and analysis about the team’s performance in the game, and the strength of the opposition, in a way that is constructive and gives me confidence that a poor result will be turned around next week. When I hear a player shit bagging the team (and I must stress I still haven’t heard Aaron’s comments so I’m speaking in general terms) as a neutral I might be saying good on you for being honest mate but as a fan I am more worried about dissension in the ranks being a sign that there are much deeper problems than one poor performance and I would feel that those particular thoughts would have been better kept in-house.

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