Hamilton Wanderers 2, Waitakere United 4
Porritt Stadium, Hamilton, December 10 2017
It’s the hope that kills you…
With the National Women’s League final taking place in Christchurch again this year, and flights out of my price range, I headed down to Hamilton yesterday to watch my favourite men’s national league team for the first time this summer.
While my attention has been focussed elsewhere over the past few weeks, it seems they have had a tough start to the season. Are we surprised? Maybe just a little.
With Ricki Herbert coming on board as coach, hopes were middling that he could attract some quality players, change the culture and make a real difference.
But any progress that may have been possible yesterday was almost certainly out of the question. Because never fear, the jinx of Enzo was there! Or could my presence have actually turned things around for once? There’s a first time for everything I guess.
The joy of following a losing team is of course a topic I’m very familiar with. I’ve often written about the romance of it, referencing Nick Hornby and his love affair with Cambridge United’s 31 match losing streak.
But even I felt a little bit deflated reading Ricki’s comments in the Hamilton News the other week, particularly the part where he said (shamelessly taken out of context of course) “there is a real desire to bite the bullet now and go through some hard times…”
A real desire to go through hard times?
I get it – I really do. You have to break eggs to make an omelette and I support building a strong youth foundation, nurturing home-grown talent, and all that takes time. But still, can’t we do that and at least be vaguely competitive in the meantime? Do these things have to be mutually exclusive?
The region hasn’t seen semi-final football since NZFC year one – twelve and a half years ago now. To paraphrase Albert King – if it wasn’t for hard times, we wouldn’t have no times at all.
Oh well, it is what it is I suppose. And it at least gave me permission to not be overly perturbed when Wanderers went 1-0 down via Keegan Linderboom part way through the first half of this game.
But then Waitak went noddy byes and Tommy Semmy cut through them like a knife through Donald Trump’s integrity not once but twice and with a 2-1 lead at half time a shock win for the home side was on the cards!
It was destined to not last, of course. And it turned out that the difference between a jinx who’s barred at the gate and a lucky charm they want to fly to South Island away games is roughly two minutes of football.
Because that’s all it took for Julyan Collett and Dylan Manickum to score in quick succession and reverse the lead. Then Horace James put Wanderers fans well and truly out of our misery. 4-2 was the final score.
Waitakere needed the win to begin consolidating their top four position on a congested table. Meanwhile Wanderers have consolidated their grip on the wooden spoon and, given they are only one game shy of halfway through their season, it would take a miracle for them to catapult themselves into playoff contention from here.
How long will we have to wait for our nation’s fourth largest urban area to make the top four of our nation’s premier men’s football competition? Another year at least. Probably longer by the sounds of things…
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.