Hamilton Wanderers 0, Auckland City 1
Links Avenue, Mount Maunganui, January 28 2018
There was only one national league football game on offer within reasonable driving distance of my Auckland home on Auckland Anniversary Weekend – and even that necessitated a 450km road trip to the Bay of Plenty. Not that I would rather have been anywhere else on a scorching hot summer’s day – within belly flopping distance of one of New Zealand’s most popular beaches.
Not that I’d want to convey the false impression that a refreshing dip in the ocean after the final whistle is the sort of thing that seriously attracts football tragics of my sad ilk. It’s not. What really attracted me to this fixture was in actual fact the glorious chance of watching my favourite team equal Youngheart Manawatu’s record for most consecutive games without a win in the franchise era.
And not only that, but the soon to be worst equal team in NZFC history got to claim their mantle against the most successful team in the same time frame, not to mention the best team on paper in the league. It would have been a brave observer who didn’t predict a massacre.
Real fans cannot and should not look at themselves in the mirror if they are not present for ritual floggings such as these.
Because when the hard times are finally over, and Wanderers’ inevitably win a league title, what will be my answer to the inevitable question: “where were you when we were shit?”
It will be “I was there” of course! And moreover it will under no circumstances be “I was watching it on TV in Pauanui”, like some other unfortunate people I couldn’t possibly eternally shame by mentioning their names – Rod de Lisle!
Unfortunately though, my masochistic plan turned out to contain a fatal flaw – one minor detail that quite frankly ruined my whole trip by robbing me of my source of the ultimate in football virtue signalling.
We weren’t particularly shit. We were quite competitive actually.
The heat and humidity may well have played a part. It wasn’t exactly pleasant out there.
As if to underline this point, as we drove south through the Hauraki Plains, it was noticeable that every single head of livestock we passed was fighting for space under what little shade there was available to them.
But bovine conditions of employment were vastly preferable to those of semi pro footballers, who we not only made go out into the unrelenting baking sun, but we also made them run around after a ball while they were at it!
Whether it was down to the weather or not, the game was tight. Even though Auckland City were clearly the better of the two sides, Micah Lea’alafa’s 23rd minute goal felt pretty soft, the navy blue attack didn’t quite seem to have their shooting boots on and there were good opportunities for Wanderers to claim what wouldn’t have been an entirely undeserved point.
They couldn’t quite do it though, and they now head to Trusts Stadium next weekend to attempt to avoid claiming that aforementioned unwanted record outright against a Waitakere side who have also been on a bit of a downward spiral themselves ever since I said I quite liked them… I’m sure there’s no connection…
I’ll be there both to see if I can finally win that dang coffee machine and to see what happens when two teams I’m jinxing have the severe misfortune to play against each other.
Can they both lose or will this unique confluence of abysmal karma cause a rift in the space time continuum, form a wormhole and suck the whole of West Auckland into a parallel dimension? And will Italy have qualified for the World Cup there?
Tune in next week, to find out…
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.