By Cordwainer Bull
It’s almost exactly 20 years ago to the week since I wrote a column for Melville United’s national league programme against Napier City Rovers (January 24, 1997), entitled “Summer Soccer Sideshow”, at a time when summer football was still in its infancy as a concept.
I thought it would be timely to revisit it and see whether anything has changed in two decades. Readers can make up their own mind….
I have invented a new game for New Zealand fans called Summer Soccer Sideshow. It is simple to play. All you do is try and beat your mates to score 500 points over the rest of the season using the following scoring options.
Before the match:
Score five points if you have trouble getting a car park within 300m of the ground.
Score 2 points for every misspelt name in the programme. A bonus 5 points if you can read the programme cover-to-cover in under five minutes.
Score 10 if you hear/read Mark Paston being tipped as the next All White keeper. Score 1 if you hear/read of more players wanting to leave Mt Maunganui.
Score 5 if Brian Chisholm is listed as “toughest opponent” in the programme’s player profile.
Score 10 points if the weather is actually very summery.
Score 30 points if you can identify an away fan from any of the following clubs: Woolston, Wellington, Nelson, Mt Maunganui.
Score 20 points if there is pre-match entertainment. Take 10 points off if it is a fat lady singing.
During the match:
Score 10 points if the ref kicks the match off two minutes early while fans are still coming in the gate.
Score 20 points every time you hear someone ask: “Which one is Justin Fashanu?”
Score 40 points if you hear a chant or a song from the terraces.
Score 10 points if the ref awards a goalkick after the keeper has brilliantly tipped a shot over the bar.
Score 15 if the PA announcer gets the name of the goalscorer wrong. Take a bonus 5 if the mistake is repeated in the next day’s newspaper.
Score 5 points if the referee chickens out and gives a freekick a foot outside the box for what was a blatant penalty.
Score 5 points every time a current All Whites squad member is substituted.
Score 10 if they start on the bench. Score 20 points if the All Whites players look international class.
Score 5 points if the referee decides not to enforce any of the following rules: Handball, 10 yards from free kicks, swearing, kicking the ball away at free kicks.
After the match:
Score 10 if the home team won (unless it is Mt Maunganui, in which case score 100).
Score 80 points if Noel Barkley has correctly predicted the winner in the Sunday News. On second thoughts, make it 180.
Score 50 points if you thought the playing standard was as good as in 1992.
Score 20 if the home club can’t be stuffed having aftermatch speeches. Score a further 50 if they do and you can understand what Eddie Edge is on about.
Score 5 points if you hear players boasting that they have made a killing on the match at the TAB. A bonus 10 points if the TAB was actually running a book on the game.
Score 2 sympathy points for every pint consumed where a beer costs more than $2.50 at an away venue. Take a bonus 10 points if the very rich home club charges $60 for an aftermatch tray of cans for your team’s players.
Score 15 points every time the official match attendance is announced as being twice the number (or more) of your head count.
Score 10 points if a player gets a mention in the Herald match report who wasn’t actually playing.
Obviously some of the character and club references there need changing and some the scoring options look quaintly dated now. But others endure, and by way of an update, I would offer the following additional 2016-17 scoring options:
Score 50 points if you witness an occurrence which might possibly justify having security guards at a national league match (apart from anything involving Brett Angell).
Score 20 points if you ever come across any acknowledgement that national league football existed in New Zealand prior to 2004.
Score 20 points if a player says something meaningful, intelligent or quotable in post-match interviews after live match broadcasts.
Score 10 points on each occasion the patter on Sky’s Stirling Sports Premiership highlight show includes any of the following lines:
- A match is described as “not to be missed” (even though there are less than 100 spectators present) as opposed, presumably, to all those matches that should be missed.
- It’s described as “an important match for both teams” (as opposed to all those tedious unimportant ones).
- “Credit to the hosts for not giving up” (in spite of the show having never yet highlighted an instance where a team HAS given up).
Score a further 10 if you are told “the break couldn’t come soon enough for the visitors” or “the home team got straight down to business”.
Take a further 10 points if “Wellington Phoenix U20s have “flown under the radar”, Eastern Suburbs are described as “early competition favourites”, or Tasman “desperately needed the three”.
Now please nominate a few of your own scoring options – then start making your scoreboard tally this weekend.
[Cordwainer Bull is a former Waikato United and Melville United programme columnist. His hobbies include fungus watching, nitpicking and collecting banana sticker labels. His favourite player was Ernie Gale.]
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.