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Rivalism Weekend – 2/3

Forrest Hill Milford 4, Glenfield Rovers 1
Becroft Park, Auckland, April 9 2017

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I’m not a morning person. I can’t stress that enough. This is why football works so well for me. It’s an afternoon game. As a general rule, no Sunday morning sleep-ins are harmed in the making of this blog!

Every rule has an exception though. Sometimes, in my football addled brain, it seems like a great idea to drive somewhere like Kaeo and back in a day to watch grown adults kick a ball for an hour and a half. This will necessitate the occasional early start. But hauling myself out of bed and getting out to an *Auckland* football club by 10:30am on a Sunday?? There would have to be a bloody good reason for that…

And on this occasion there was. I wanted to check out both the reserve and first team fixtures at Becroft Park, where the second clash of my Rivalism Weekend was taking place.

Why?

  1. Because I have never watched a reserves game before – men or women – and that seemed a bit odd and probably in need of rectifying even just for curiosity’s sake.
  2. And also because ITBOTN’s very own Helena Wiseman was playing for FHM Reserves and I was keen to get along to one of her games at some stage if for no other reason than to try to take a few half decent photos for her as some small token of my gratitude for all the work she does on this site!

I have been a mild critic of NRFL reserve leagues from time to time, which probably isn’t ideal in light of the fact that I haven’t bothered to watch a game at reserve level until now.

Thinking about it, I guess one of the reasons it’s taken me this long is because the word ‘reserves’ doesn’t really conjure up a great image. In my mind’s eye I pictured second rate players who can’t cut it in the real games. So with that view in mind, when I hear about clubs I love pulling out of the NRFL because of an inability to field a reserves team, I seriously question the logic of requiring everyone to do it.

But heading along on Sunday shattered my illusions a little bit. The two sides didn’t look anything like the reserves teams I had imagined. They were very young, sharp and hungry for action. On the whole they looked more like development teams than reserves, packed with players who will be playing for first teams if not pushing for higher honours in future years.

It’s probably not fair to single one player out, but I’m going to do it anyway. A massive stand out for me was FHM’s Renee Wasi – who I found out later is the daughter of a player I have watched a lot in men’s NRFL over the years, PNG’s Mauri Wasi. She scored an absolutely cracking goal from distance in the 28th minute, was subbed off soon after but came back on in the second half and not only scored a second but also terrorised the opposition constantly both in possession and without it.

As luck would have it, I also got to see another rising star in action who is also following in the footsteps of one of her parents. Towards the end of the first half of the reserves game I was pointed in the direction of the number three pitch, where 14 year old Caley McNeely, daughter of NRFL ref Wendy McNeely, was officiating a 13th grade boys’ metro game. I understand that was her first competitive fixture in the middle!

It sounds like she is seen as having a lot of potential so I am very much looking forward to the real reward due for giving up my Sunday morning sleep-in! That is, one day in the not too distant future, proudly reposting my photos from last weekend in light of Cayley refereeing Renee in the international arena!

Of course, that will only happen if Renee chooses PNG over NZ so I’m not hoping tooooooo much for this dream to come 100% true…

Categories: NZ Northern Women's Premier

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Enzo Giordani

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: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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