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One more for the road

New Zealand A 3, Thailand 1
Fred Taylor Park, Auckland, December 20 2016

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Way back on January 10 I watched my first football game of 2016 – Auckland City vs Southern United, in the sun at Kiwitea Street.

It’s now twelve months later, give or take a week or two, and my football watching year has drawn to a close across town in the sun at Fred Taylor Park – where New Zealand A played Thailand in a women’s international friendly this evening.

Including the two above fixtures, I have watched 75 games on 70 different days this year at 40 different venues up and down the North Island.

That’s 6,750 minutes of football! If I watched 75 games back-to-back it would take over four and a half sleepless days – roughly the same amount of time it would take to watch all seven seasons of The West Wing – a feat I have also achieved over the course of a year on more than a few occasions I’m not afraid to admit… When you put it like that it doesn’t sound quite so obsessive… It’s only 1.3% of the minutes in a leap year…

But wait, there’s more…

Including travelling time, I have spent 257.5 hours driving, flying and watching games. Throw in time spent writing posts and editing photos and I’ve probably spent around 600 hours, the equivalent of 15 working weeks, in 2016 alone, on this hobby that some (myself included) might suggest has gotten slightly out of hand!

In terms of Kilometres driven, midway through the winter season after a mad weekend (when I drove to Kaeo and back on the Saturday and Rotorua and back on the Sunday) I worked out I had driven the same distance as from my house to downtown Melbourne over the course of the year to that point. Yesterday I wondered to myself if I’d made it home yet… Well, I’ve now done the math and can confirm that I have indeed driven home. And part of the way back again! Or, if I had kept going with a little dogleg to the Northwest I would be in Singapore by now…

But on the bright side I have seen 434 goals scored. 195 of them were netted by home teams and 149 by visitors. That’s an average of 4.8 goals per game. I have only seen 20 clean sheets kept, just 9 draws and only one game that I witnessed in 2016 finished 0-0 – A women’s conference clash between Fencibles and Papakura City.

Who said football is a boring game?

Today was no different.

There are a great many questions to which the answer is “Fred Taylor Park”, but not many people would consider “where shall we hold an international football match?” to be one of them. Yet somehow, it worked. It was a suitably laid back way to end the year in a grassy setting in the evening sun with nobody who had knocked off work a little early to be there particularly caring much for the usual rules as they lined the side of the pitch.

Thailand’s ultras continued to be excellent value with their drumming and singing bringing a festive atmosphere to proceedings. Their team wasn’t half bad either! They were the better of the two sides in the first half and fully deserved their 1-0 lead at the break even if Victoria Esson could perhaps be a tad disappointed with her attempt to stop Silawan Intamee’s long range shot.

But with some half time personnel changes, New Zealand A came home with a wet sail in the second stanza. The most decisive of these was Paige Satchell replacing Jazz Pereira and bringing her much needed pace into the game. By the end of the match she had two fantastic assists and a goal of her own! Rosie White and Aimee Phillips (herself a second half sub) were the other goalscorers who got on the end of Satchell’s crosses.

Tough luck for Thailand, they didn’t deserve to lose the series 3-0 and it would have been nice to see them end their tour with a result of some sort to take home with them but it wasn’t to be.

And that was the 2016 New Zealand football year done and dusted! It was a pleasure to play my part in it and I’m already looking forward to doing it all again in 2017.

Categories: Football Ferns

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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.

2 replies

  1. I thought I was an anorak! didn’t realise you were just as bad \ worse 🙂
    Although still not sure how you can claim playing International football on a park in West Auckland is fantastic – surely the Football Ferns A team deserve better than this?

    1. Heh, thanks Dave! 🙂

      I’ve never been a fan of playing games with a few hundred supporters in stadia built for several thousand. It kills the atmosphere. FTP had a nice end of year buzz and there’s nothing wrong with West Auckland, mate! Some good people live there… 😛

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