When it rains, it pours. The year is almost over so I thought I’d try my hand at getting all of these out of the way before the end of the year. And actually, this is by far the easiest one to choose the winners for.
To recap, way back in June, I bowed to public pressure and wrote a post ranking my five favourite football grounds in New Zealand. In so doing, I also acknowledged requests for follow up pieces looking at the most improved, depressing, windblown and inaccessible grounds along with the best and worst stadium food.
So without any further ado…
Five of the best stadium food
1 – Mangere Centre Park
The great: Whether it’s the famous Duck Curry or the Chicken 65, the Fijian Indian fare at Mangere Centre Park is impossible to beat. Where else can you get a super authentic home cooked taste of the Pacific/subcontinent to enjoy with your football fix? And the two go together like a dream. You can have a party going on in your mouth and in front of your eyes out on the pitch! What more could you possibly want? And if you’re really brave you can finish it all off with kava in the clubrooms after the game…
The gripe: Word to the wise: Don’t be in the middle of a mouthful when they welcome you over the stadium PA. Bad things can happen. Let’s just say that rice travels a long way…
One word summary: Bula
2 – Murdoch Park
The great: Any football club tuckshop worth its salt has chips and hotdogs and if they are any good they will make you a toastie as well. But to get onto this list you have to offer something special that sets you apart. And it doesn’t have to mean extra work and hassle. Try the Papatoetoe model! They drive a big old Mack Truck into your heart with a little thing called lollies. Oh, yeah. You can’t beat a good lolly selection! Jet planes, snakes, pineapple lumps, milk bottles and football… These are a few of my favourite things!
The gripe: Watch out for the sugar rush. It can make for some interesting football chants…
One word summary: Dentist
3 – Anderson Park
The great: Sometimes that something special that sets you apart isn’t necessarily tangible. Sometimes it’s sentimental – like the thing that helped me fall in love with New Zealand football for the very first time. My first ever live game was a 1992 Chatham Cup tie between Mount Albert Ponsonby and North Shore United, and one of my vividly fond memories of the day was a super yummy cheese and pineapple toasted sandwich. Ever since that day, this fine delicacy has been a regular feature of my football watching diet. And while sometimes things from your childhood fail to match the images in your mind, the contemporary examples of the genre available at Anderson Park to this day definitely still live up to the memories.
The gripe: Always exercise extreme caution before biting into anything containing melted cheese and straight out of the sandwich press. That pineapple WILL be thermonuclear. Always blow on the toastie. Safer communities together.
One word summary: Golden
4 – John Kerkhof Park
The great: Now, there’s offering something a little bit special that sets you apart from the crowd, and then there’s really going the extra mile. And then there’s going the extra light year! Cambridge United certainly fell into this category recently when they hosted the WaiBOP National Women’s League side and had volunteers circulating through the crowd at each game with a big Tupperware container full of yummy apple shortcake for anyone in the house who wished to partake! Country hospitality at its finest.
The gripe: Every time they get a great gig and hit it out of the ballpark, somebody decides to fix what isn’t broken and off it goes… WaiBOP United was an absolute gem in Cambridge, with the best atmosphere seen at Waikato football in a generation. Then they moved it to the soulless FMG Stadium and it just wasn’t the same. This year Cambridge hosted the National Women’s League, and again it was magic, with crowds not seen before in women’s football north of Christchurch. Now it looks set to move to Claudelands or Wanderers if, and it’s a big if, either of them can qualify for the new look National Women’s League…
One word summary: Crumbs
Bolter – Every ground that has real coffee
The great: Technically it’s not food, strictly speaking. But if I had my way coffee would be an honorary food group and striking a football ground that can serve you up a passable latte is my idea of hitting the jackpot. Places where I’ve watched great football with a good latte in my hand include, off the top of my head, Madills Farm, Michaels Avenue, English Park (Christchurch), Stanmore Bay Reserve and, believe it or not, Memorial Park Dargaville!! I salute them all.
The gripe: Sometimes it’s not the greatest quality it has to be said… And sometimes it’s even worse than that. Sometimes it’s like drinking Manurewa AFC pitch mud… But if giving a little something back to the grassroots means pouring your coffee out onto them from time to time – that’s ok, right?
One word summary: Caffeinnnnnnnnne
Next time: Five of the worst refreshments
Categories: Other Football Topics
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: http://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/