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Nobody likes a McLeodmouth

Waitemata 4, Hibiscus Coast 1
McLeod Park, Auckland, April 25 2017

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I chose to spend my ANZAC afternoon at this NRFL Division One bottom half clash between Waitemata and Hibiscus Coast for one main reason. Before this game there were just two Northern League clubs left on my ‘sins of omission’ list – places where I am yet to attend a match. They were McLeod Park and Ngongotaha’s Stembridge Road.

The main reason I haven’t seen a Waitemata home game before now is because they play most of them under lights, which makes it nearly impossible for me to get usable photos. So when I saw that they had a 3pm kick off on this occasion, I immediately put a circle around the fixture. If I had spurned this opportunity there may not have been another one.

But having said that, there was much to look forward to. I have been to the place before as part of my old ‘State of the Nation’ pre-season pitch inspections and even on that one fleeting visit on a not particularly nice day, McLeod Park struck me as a beautiful little venue. The spacious clubrooms have a balcony with harbour views over the mangroves beyond the football pitch. And there is also the multi award winning match day programme to sample! It’s truly worth a visit here for those two things each in isolation.

The first half of the game I was here to witness was a good watch. The visitors snatched the lead in just the tenth minute with a very nice Julian Stevenson strike from the left hand side of the penalty area across the face and in at the far post. Waitemata’s eventual equaliser wasn’t anywhere near as pretty but it was deserved none the less. Right on the stroke of half time Hamish Mackay hit one that the keeper seemed to have under control right up to the point where he turned out not to and it was fumbled into his own net.

Into the second half and Waitemata should have grabbed the lead around five minutes after the restart when a header from close range was somehow nodded over. But as the game ticked over the hour mark the home side’s breakthrough came via Ryan Rust and just as 1-1 was a fair reflection of the first half in my mind, a 2-1 lead to Waitemata was also a fair reflection of the second stanza to that point.

But then, shortly after that goal, came the unfortunate incident that gives this post its title. Referee Ben Hill awarded a free kick to Hibiscus Coast in an attacking position close to my vantage point at the northern end and it came, clear as day from a spectator over by the Waitemata dugout – “you’re a homo ref”. I chose to pretend I didn’t hear it. But then it came a second time – “you’re a homo ref!” And a third: “you’re a homo ref!!!!” Then he obviously didn’t think he had been properly appreciated for his Noel Cowardesque wit the first, second or third times so we got a fourth encore with the volume turned up to full – “YOU’RE A HOMO REF!!!!!”.

Now, I’m sorry but from that point on I really didn’t give a flying toss about the rest of the match.

If there are two things I really hate at football they are abuse of match officials and racist, sexist or homophobic insults so when I hear these things I will call them out. We have done it before and we will do it again because it’s 2017 and there’s no place for it in the game I love.

If clubs don’t stamp this kind of thing out we will name, shame and embarrass them. I know they can’t always control what their fans do but this guy acted like an egg not once but four times surrounded by others and from where I was sitting I didn’t see anyone tell him to STFU.

This was my first ever game at McLeod Park and it’s also likely to be my last unless they sort it out.

If they want a photo of the guy I am happy to supply one.

And if anyone wants to respectfully debate the incident or my reaction to it in the comments, here or on my social media, be my guest but any nastiness will be deleted without warning. I’m not in the mood to take any shit on this.

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 1

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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/

15 replies

  1. Nailed it Enzo. And thank you for doing so. This behaviour sickens me, and we all need to stamp it out.

    Waitemata should be strongly chastised for failing to call this guy out. I have seen the photo you speak of and if he was not part of the Waitemata team he was standing RIGHT next to their bench. They had an obligation to call him out for it.

    I’m angry that the officials didn’t act. I hope NZ Football do.

    Any homosexual fans watching could well have been pretty upset (and rightly so) with “homo” being used as a term of denigration openly, and it not being called out.

    1. Thanks Brandon and I should also have mentioned that there were a lot of kids around and it really saddens me that they might get the impression that this was acceptable behaviour from an adult.

  2. And people wonder why referees drop out of the game?!?! Heard on the vine numbers are down 20%…!!!
    The same people hurling abuse this week, will be the first to complain next week when no-one shows up…

    I would love to see NZF/AFF take a hard line on incidents like this, but sadly will not be holding my breath….

    I know the Ref Ben Hill, good bloke, decent official, and generally pretty well liked, sad to hear he was subjected to this.

  3. People who act like this need to be named and shamed, and yes I too hear that we are well short of Refs this season due to rubbish sideline behaviour like this.

  4. I have experienced this first hand at Glenfield Rovers. It was directed at a player in my summer football team continuously. Sadly the worst part is it was from a senior member who coaches one of our premier teams. It was disgraceful! I think you should post his picture on the NFF’s Facebook page! Name and shame! Homophobia has no place in football or anywhere for that matter! Good job Enzo.

  5. You’d be surprised how many people think “homo” is an acceptable insult even in women’s football, which as we all know is possibly the gayest thing around short of an actual gay wedding. I once objected to a teammate referring (under her breath) to the ref as a “homo” and her reply was “oh come on, you know I don’t mean it like THAT”. I think this lady also once referred to an opposition player with short hair as an “angry lesbian”. Being kind of queer myself (and a bit angry) I’m always amazed to note that people feel free to say this kind of stuff right in front of me.

  6. Hi everyone, thanks for all the great comments!

    Just a quick update – both NFF and the club got in touch with me last night to request the photograph and say they will be investigating it. I’m really impressed with the fast response and complete lack of any excuses from both organisations. I’ll leave the matter with them now.

  7. I have to give a big kudos to the match official at Stembridge Rd yesterday. Having traveled far and wide in the game for a long time, I have to say I haven’t seen someone in a long time that stamped his authority, was fair in his decision making, had good player management skills and allowed the game to flow on. He ought to be congratulated. If someone has a video it will be worth a watch.

    yes, we all get caught up on the “come on ref” slogan, but certainly no place for a loudmouth homo[phobe – added by Enzo, I’m assuming this is what you meant!] !

  8. Hi Enzo, knowing what a lovely place West Auckland is, I can’t help but wonder if there hasn’t been a terrible misunderstanding here.

    “Homo” is of course the genus that comprises the species homo sapiens, which includes us modern humans, as well as several extinct species classified as ancestral.

    So when this chap is calling the ref a “homo”, could it be that he is possibly just celebrating and reminding him of their common brotherly bond as homo sapiens, the only surviving subspecies of the genus Homo?

    If on the other hand, he called the ref a “homo erectus”, that would have been highly offensive, assuming the ref puts great stock in the Darwinian evolutionary tree.

    The again, had he called the ref a “Pan” as opposed to a homo, that would arguably have been even more insulting, given that is the genus pertaining to chimpanzees.

    Hope this helps.

    1. How could you be so callous as to condone this sort of behavior?
      I cannot comprehend you or your thinking Mr. Bull…

  9. Anonymous, I so believe you. It is bleedin obvious you cannot comprehend. Nothing has been condoned. A whimsical conversation point has been raised.

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