Auckland City 4, Hamilton Wanderers 1
Kiwitea Street, Auckland, 19 February 2017
It’s been a long while since last I set foot at Kiwitea Street. Too long, some would say – myself included!
I know how this must look to City fans. Auckland City are playing Hamilton Wanderers. There were no other games north of Wellington last weekend. And I pick this as my first Auckland City FC game of the summer. Turning up now looks parochial at best and grudging at worst.
That’s genuinely not how I see it though, because I still love this ground with every fibre of my being. From my special wee possie that I always like to stand in to get good photos from – at the Southern end amongst the Agapanthus – I can survey the scene beautifully. There are never many gaps along the railings as people stand and sit, almost literally, right on top of the action with Mount Eden serving as a glorious backdrop. And at my solitary vantage point the constant stream of drool running down my chin courtesy of the aroma of steak sandwiches wafting across the pitch hopefully goes largely unnoticed…
Despite the fact that I have no particular affection for the home club, their ground is unquestionably the best place in New Zealand to watch football. The only thing I’ve ever got to complain about here is the invariably sad results from my perspective…
On Sunday I was here to watch the team from my home province get its obligatory spanking at the hands of “those City boys from Sandringham” – and what’s more it was their second in the space of just a few days.
Auckland City smashed Wanderers 5-0 in their catch-up game in Hamilton on Wednesday evening and while Sunday’s fixture was closer, it wasn’t by much and, realistically, there was only ever going to be one outcome. So while I was happy to be at Kiwitea Street, it certainly wasn’t because of the thrilling football on offer! It never is.
While the gap has unquestionably closed between Auckland City and the chasing pack, they remain the firm favourites to win the comp let alone any given match you are likely to turn up to here. Even with their few slip-ups this season, over the last five (including this one) their record at Kiwitea Street is won 28, drawn 5 and lost 3, and I have never seen a Waikato or WaiBOP team get a win here in my life – in any competition.
And what’s more, looking at the demeanours of the players and supporters on both sides of this one, I don’t think anybody present expected this to be anything other than three points for the home side. Maybe it was the humidity that, as one of my Facebook friends described it, was like walking around in someone’s armpit – but the whole atmosphere felt a bit flatter than usual.
So this was not what you might call a particularly exciting way to spend an afternoon. Let’s be honest – It was a little bit boring for me.
This goes a lot of the way to explaining why I am only just getting to Kiwitea Street now, with only two weeks left in the Stirling Sports Premiership regular season. I wasn’t just seduced by the trappings of coffee machines that I could never manage to be fortunate enough to win at Trusts and the beautiful old stand at Bill McKinlay that looks like something out of a 1970’s Subbuteo set…
It was also the lure of games that excited me more. It’s nobody’s fault. Especially not Auckland City’s, whose only real crime is being good at football. It’s just the way the cookie crumbles.
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.