Kiwi True Blues 4, Central Brown 0
Anderson Park, Auckland, April 23 2017
One of my absolute favourite times of year – the Chatham Cup Preliminary round – continued in earnest yesterday. But whereas Saturday well and truly belonged to the Waikato and King Country with fixtures in Matamata, Tokoroa, Hamilton and Taupo – Sunday was Auckland’s time to shine. There were two tasty looking match-ups in the Super City to choose from. Auckland Wanderers played Te Awamutu at Michaels Avenue, but it was the clash at Anderson Park in Mount Albert that caught my eye.
Making their Chatham Cup debut was Sunday League side Kiwi True Blues FC – a Glasgow Rangers supporters club that has put together a very handy side. Casting my eye over the programme I recognised a few names from the glory days of Waiuku FC when it might as well have been called McWaiuku! Also prominent was team manager and super sub Gordon Watson, AKA Auckland Football’s media officer, who has played National League (more than 100 games for Manawatu AFC), Northern League and also has a Chatham Cup final with Melville United on his CV.
Reading the recent feature on the club by Waikato Times football guru Andrew Voerman, you could have been forgiven for thinking they were fully expecting to get hammered by Whangarei’s NFF Northland Premier Division side Central Brown. But I wasn’t fooled. Especially after their Sunday League compadres Internationale gave Matamata Swifts, who from what I can tell play in a more challenging league than the Northlanders, a real run for their money on Saturday.
I really wanted to see these Rangers fans in action, partly because I’m quite envious of what they’ve got going. I would dearly love to see Roma fans in Auckland get together and enjoy themselves half as much as these guys obviously do. I wouldn’t have the slightest interest in embarrassing myself on the pitch, but watching SPL games immersed in the culture of the club they love, despite being almost as far away from it as it’s possible to get, must be a special thing to be a part of. I get a taste of it every couple of years when gli Azzurri play in big tournaments and the Italian community coming together never fails to be amongst the highlights of my life. Imagine that several times a year every year!
I guess it’s the old saying – ‘if it’s to be it’s up to me…’
Anyway, I digress.
I arrived at Anderson about five minutes late and with that came good news and bad news.
The bad news was I missed a piper serenading the players onto the pitch. Bugger. I may not have any Scottish blood in me but bagpipes are one of those things that always gets me in the feels.
But the good news was I didn’t miss any goals.
As I wandered around the field to take up a spot at the end the True Blues were attacking, it seemed to me that Central Brown were playing very well and looking like they were indeed the better of the two sides but both teams certainly enjoyed chances to score. One of those aforementioned Waiuku veterans, Jamie McGookin, looked especially lively hitting the woodwork at least once and then, soon after, seeing one go into the net only to be disallowed.
Then came the game’s kind of weird arse about face reverse turning point. With barely half an hour on the clock, McGookin was adjudged to have thrown an elbow at an attacking player he was attempting to hold at bay in his own half. He was sent packing with a straight red card and the True Blues faced the daunting prospect of playing the next hour of football with ten men.
I thought they would be dead in the water from there but in reality it was quite the opposite!
Just three minutes after the sending off, Michael Gray netted. He wheeled away in celebration, literally right into the lens of my camera, and Kiwi True Blues had an unlikely one goal advantage to take with them into the sheds at half time.
They came straight out of the gate firing in the second half too. Just two minutes into it they had doubled their lead thanks to Jerome Cookson, who grabbed another goal in the 63rd minute before Craig McLeod put the icing on the cake in the 68th.
With four goals (all rather pretty I must say too) in the space of a little more than half an hour the ten ‘Gers’ had put the eleven Central Brown players to bed, tucked them in and sung them a lullaby. Sensational stuff really. And they were pretty happy about it I can tell you!
So now there are two questions on my lips as I reflect on what I witnessed.
The first one is how far can they potentially go in the Chatham Cup this year? It will be very interesting to see who they draw in the first round.
But the second and more burning question for me right now is this – would they have traded that win for Rangers beating Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final later on last night?
I imagine that’s a tough one…
Categories: NZ Chatham Cup
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: http://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/