Waitakere United 1, Hamilton Wanderers 2
Trusts Stadium, Auckland, February 4 2018
There was so much that happened, in and around this game of football, that makes for what writers call “good copy” that it would be easy for this post to lose sight of the most important amongst them. So I’ll say this right at the top before I get wrapped up in the other stuff:
Hamilton Wanderers defeated Waitakere United in West Auckland.
That isn’t supposed to happen. Especially not with me there getting my jinx juice all over everything.
It’s also important to acknowledge here that victories like this just don’t happen through sheer luck. They take planning, they take preparation, they take dedication, they take hard work, sweat and blood.
But you also need voodoo dolls, séances and livestock sacrifices, along with truly superstitious mumbo jumbo such as training, tactics, physical and mental conditioning, and performances on the pitch.
I did my bit in the lead up to this one – turning the wrath of the Football Gods on Waitak by declaring my love for them a few weeks ago was a dastardly deed but it paid off. Since then they have slipped almost right out of semi-final contention. You’re welcome Ricki.
The players and coaching staff did their small parts too by earning this every step of the way, and what it meant to them was on display for all to see via their reactions when the final whistle blew.
Wanderers certainly looked to have the goods. Their ever dangerous attacking weapon, Tommy Semmy, grabbed the opening goal 20 minutes in and they should have had a second not long after that when several opportunities were spurned in one goal mouth tussle.
Instead, Waitakere got a soft equaliser largely thanks to a goalkeeping mistake and we went into the break with the scores locked at one apiece.
But then, shortly after the hour mark, two substitutions arguable proved decisive. Wanderers switched Patrick Aisa for Alex Frank up front and Waitakere swapped defender Stewart McKay for striker Matt Chant so that goalscorer Julyan Collett could revert to his usual position in the back four.
This triggered a fairly spectacular high decibel verbal tiff between McKay and his coach, Chris Milicich.
About two minutes after the shouting stopped Frank scored and a seemingly vindicated Mckay abandoned the bench in disgust, cogently articulating the finer points of the geopolitical situation to anyone who would listen (mostly ball kids) along the route to the dressing room.
It will be interesting to see if he is still in the squad next week.
At this point, having learned from bitter past experience, I completed my spiritual contribution to the visiting team’s performance by anticipating the usual Fred Taylor Park curse of a late heartbreaker by taking my camera down the Waitak end ready to photograph the inevitable.
The fact that it didn’t happen this time is a testament to my promising future as a witch doctor when I get bored with football.
And that was the ball game.
Except, oh, there was one other small thing…
I FINALLY WON THE COFFEE MACHINE!!!!!!!
Well, I didn’t actually win it per se, but Gina did and she hates coffee so I’m calling it a victory for me and whether or not you agree is completely irrelevant because it says victory right there on the box! Vittoria is Italian for victory.
So by definition victory is mine and you can bet your ass I’ll be drinking the stuff no matter what.
Thanks to Vittoria Coffee and to Waitakere United.
I’m sorry your team didn’t taste victory like I will be every morning for the next few years, remembering this special day as I imbibe. And sorry about the whole jinxing you thing.
But hey, we’re still not even for all the times you’ve broken my heart. Not by a long way. So there’s that in your favour.
The other talking point of the game, if we can talk about me just a little bit more, was this here photo I took. It immediately reminded me of the figures representing the Ganges and the Nile in Bernini’s ‘Fountain of the Four Rivers’ in Rome’s Piazza Navona…
Isn’t that something? Huh? Huh?? Life imitating art?
No? Ok. I try to inject a bit of culture around here and you give me nothing. FINE!
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.