Waitakere United 1, Hawkes Bay United 0
Trusts Stadium, Auckland, January 8 2017
The first and most important commandment that must be adhered to by any true fan of Waikato football is ‘thou shalt hate Waitakere’. It’s written in stone. Through the ages, these annoying Westies have been the big ugly ogre that’s crushed all my little hopes and dreams whenever mooloo teams have been competitive at national level.
So when I went to watch this game, I was only there because they were the closest and most convenient of the two fixtures taking place in Auckland yesterday. But when I arrived, I discovered that something had changed that would fundamentally alter my perceptions…
The match was at Trusts Stadium, rather than at the dreaded Fred Taylor Park. Despite the pitch being surrounded by a ‘Running Track of Doom’, things that I despise with every fibre of my being at any football venue, it’s a lot more comfortable than The Fred there. It’s got a covered stand, lounges, press facilities and lush turf that’s as smooth as a billiard table. You don’t have to go cross-country to get a park and it’s close to cafes, bars and any other amenities you need.
The team, under the tutelage of Chris Milicich, who I follow on Twitter and have decided he’s my brother from another mother his tweets are so agreeable to me, is looking sharp. They have the nucleus of Waitakere City’s entertaining Northern Division 1 team that finished runners up in the Chatham Cup along with a healthy dose of the cream of the Birkenhead team that defeated them in the final thrown in for good measure.
But while all these things are nice enough, what really made me wake up and see Waitakere United in a whole new light was simply this – coffee.
When faced with a choice between a 25 year grudge and coffee I choose coffee. Which tells you how much I love coffee. Because I REALLY LOVE A GOOD GRUDGE!
In the spirit of teach a man to fish, Vittoria Coffee is not just giving away free coffee at Waitakere United home games this summer, they are giving away free whole entire coffee machines!! Every programme has a number on it, and if your number is called you get a coffee machine. Have I ever told you how much I love Waitakere?
Apparently there was a football game on at Trusts Stadium yesterday. I wouldn’t know anything about that BECAUSE COFFEE!
Just kidding. I watched the game. Shiesh, what kind of philistine do you think I am??? (You’re not far wrong)
In all seriousness, the thing I was actually there for was a pretty good spectacle. Waitakere were handicapped by the need to make two first half substitutions due to Dylan Stansfield finding himself cut down in a dodgy tackle and goalkeeper Pirmin Strasser was felled in a clash that left him with a particularly nasty gash on his cheek. I’ve seen photos. Very ouch!
Mr Milicich was not a happy camper as he remonstrated with the ref on the way into the sheds at half time, and there was a big cheer from the crowd when Chris Kerr himself had to hobble off the pitch with an ankle injury early in the second stanza!
The home side eked out a deserved lead in the 65th minute, when Ethan Galbraith bludgeoned home the deciding goal in the match, but the last 25 minutes weren’t without incident with both keepers busy as Hawkes Bay searched hard for an equaliser. They thought they had one when replacement referee Corey Mills pointed to the penalty spot for a hand ball in the 81st minute. But then, as everyone got set up for it to be converted, the official decided to check with his assistant on the far side and he reversed his decision as a result of the conflab. “I was wrong! I was wrong!” he shouted. Three words that were music to Westy ears!
And that was pretty much that… Apart from the most important thing…
The winning coffee machine number was 27. I had 29. Bugger.
There’s only one thing for it, I’ll have to try again next week! Who are they playing… Oh look, it’s Hamilton Wanderers!! Now there’s a test…
Categories: NZ Men'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.