[This piece first appeared in the Hamilton Wanderers match day programme ‘Sidelined’ on the 10th of December 2017]
OK, so let’s talk about the elephant in the room – Wanderers’ start to the ISPS Handa Premiership season. It hasn’t been that great, has it? Not to worry though, because I’ve been doing some research into how we can turn it around. Apparently there’s this thing you can get called an “edge”.
I first heard about this a few weeks ago when 12 year-old Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Keegan Smith blew a kiss at 250 game Serie A veteran Massimo Maccarone in the lead up to the Italian taking a penalty in an A League fixture. We were told later that this was to “gain an edge”. The fact that the penalty was converted with relative ease is, of course, by the by.
It came up again a fortnight or so later when New Zealand Football intervened to veto Westpac Stadium allowing Peruvian supporters to bring musical instruments of any kind into the Wellington leg of the All Whites’ recent intercontinental World Cup playoff. Apparently this was a move so powerful it could have closed the gap between 122 and 10 in the world rankings by all of about a quarter of a place.
Then a few days after that the Peruvians showed all of us how this edge stuff is really gained by taking things up a wee notch. They flew fighter jets over the All Whites’ hotel, let off fireworks all night, had our team cursed by shamans and drove our team bus into a stadium wall – presumably so we couldn’t park it in front of our goal.
It was at that point that I realised – this is the answer!
Until that point I thought this kind of thing could only be counterproductive. Surely professional opposition wouldn’t be put off by these shenanigans? Wouldn’t it only make them hungrier to beat us? But oh contraire, it seemed to work for Peru, and that left me wondering “how else could they have managed to do it?”
Now I’m convinced. We’ve been doing it all wrong until now. Forget practicing, forget coaching, forget tactics, forget trying to convince Francesco Totti to buy a house in Dinsdale and play at Porritt in his retirement (he’s blocked me on Social media now anyway – I didn’t think Dinsdale was that offensive but there you go).
Seriously though, this edge business is the thing that can finally win something big for Waikato football after all these years of not quite. It’s the silver bullet we’ve all been looking for.
Now, don’t worry, I know it’s not really in our gruff farming stock natures to even contemplate let alone carry out these sorts of infantile stunts. We’re more about the stiff upper lip, give them a fair go (often too much of a fair go), play in black boots, no nonsense, watch the game with our arms crossed, do our talking on the pitch types. But obviously that’s not quite working for us so we’ve got to try something different, and in the interests of moving things along I’ve done a little bit of brainstorming to give club officials some ideas to consider…
Ways Wanderers can work within our humble means to “gain an edge”:
- Blockade the airport with the tractors from that Morrinsville protest a few months ago
- Pick them up from the airport with a stock truck instead of a bus
- Give them a special tour of Hamilton Gardens in the height of hay fever season
- Send their team bus over those irritating judder bars around the lake
- Take them into town and challenge them to figure out how the parking meters work
- Whisper “the bar only serves Waikato Draught” into their defenders’ ears right before an attacking set piece
- Get that chainsaw guy from the rugby to come along to a few games
- When playing Auckland opposition, schedule kick-off for 6:30pm on a Friday evening. Preferably before a long weekend.
- When playing Wellington opposition get supporters to wave coffee plungers at them
- When playing Christchurch opposition get lots of heavy trucks to drive past during the game
- When playing Southern or Tasman ask them which part of Auckland they live in
- In the absence of a suitable local shaman, curse them by positioning me at the end they are attacking, with my camera, hoping to take goal celebration pictures
- Make them travel from the airport to the game via Hamilton public transport (admittedly not so much a strategy to gain an edge as it is to make them default)
- Send Mark Bunting to run for Council in their city
- Introduce Mooloo bells to football (I saved the cruellest ‘til last)
Or if all else fails, we could try something truly outrageous and dastardly – like playing better than them! I know, I know, I take things like this way too far sometimes… But perhaps as a last resort…
Categories: NZ Men's National League
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/