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Win it for Grandma

Melville 7, Franklin 1
Gower Park, Hamilton, June 24 2017

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The best laid plans of mice and men… I had no intention of travelling out of Auckland for this round of the Chatham Cup, but circumstances conspired to draw me out over the Bombay Hills.

My lovely grandma, who was a big part of my life growing up, passed away earlier in the week, and her send-off was held in Hamilton this morning.

It might seem a bit strange for me to drive straight from tea and sausage rolls that followed the funeral service of someone I loved to a game of football, however for me it was a nice way to clear my head and remember a special person in my own way.

Since I was eight or nine years old, my grandparents lived on Alison Street just a few doors up the road from Melville United’s home ground. I spent many a school holiday around those parts, and at various times I could be found playing cricket using the Gower number one pitch goalpost as a wicket – cricket was my number one sporting passion then.

Then there were the rare occasions, when I needed entertaining, that Grandma would take me along Avalon Drive to Muir Park to watch Waikato United. She was a rugby person really (she cruelly dubbed Muir Park Manure Park) but if football bored her she never let on.

In more recent years, whenever I was in town for a game I would stop in to say ‘hi’. A year or two back though, she became too frail to look after the house herself so it was sold and she moved into a rest home near my mum in Te Aroha. Ever since, it’s been a bit weird driving past on my way to Gower. Nonetheless it seemed like the right place to go today.

The choice wasn’t totally cut and dry though. Porritt stadium also had a decent claim on my sentimental journey. It was there that my granddad broke many New Zealand records as a top sprinter and long jumper both as a regular athlete and a veteran well into his 50s and 60s.

But in the final wash I couldn’t face the prospect of a Waikato loss so opted for the relative safety of a fixture that has already been played twice in the NRFL this season – yielding an aggregate score of 14-0 in favour of ‘the pride of the Waikato’.

It was a good decision in the final wash. Bay Olympic came from 2-0 down to beat Wanderers on penalties. If I’d had to endure that, far from cheering me up, it would most likely have tipped me over the edge. Instead there was a relaxing predictable monotonous comfort in watching a virtual Melville B team bang them in at semi regular intervals with the end result never really in doubt.

Erik Seekie opened the scoring in the 17th minute, then ten minutes later Jama Boss laid one off to Steven Holloway who doubled the home side’s advantage. Michael Fifi’i briefly cut the deficit back to one for Franklin, but Melville were on their way again just one minute after that via Patrick Hinchcliffe. That gave us a half time score of 3-1 to the Hamiltonians.

And there was no let up for Franklin in the second half. Marc Evans, who had replaced an injured Holloway in the 27th minute, got himself on the scoresheet in the first minute of the second half, then Hinchcliffe doubled his tally six minutes after that. Evans then completed his hat-trick with goals in the 78th and 87th minutes.

Referee Sarah Jones blew for full time a little early when Franklin goalkeeper Brody Turkington hit the deck awkwardly and looked to be in some pain. An ambulance was called but after a minute or two he looked to be okayish… Fingers crossed that he’s fine.

Melville are now WaiBOP’s sole representatives in the round of 16 – my fingers are crossed for a favourable draw so that they can go on to participate in the quarter finals for the first time since 2014, or beyond to the semi-finals for the first time since 2013, or maybe even beyond that to the final for the first time since 2003! And why stop there?

Go on – win it for Grandma! 😉

Categories: NZ Chatham Cup

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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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