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Wanderers Weekend Part 1 – The Fred

Waitakere City 2, Hamilton Wanderers 0
Fred Taylor Park, Auckland, May 19 2018

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In a spectacular return to form, that will no doubt surprise absolutely nobody apart from me, I have once again managed to jinx a Waikato football club at Fred Taylor Park. After watching Wanderers win this exact same fixture in 2015 despite Rod de Lisle’s pre-game threats to “frog march” me off the premises, I thought it was now safe to return to this graveyard for Mooloo hopes and dreams. Alas, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I think my record here is now approximately 1,862 Waitakere victories to 1.

As always, there is a genuine sob story to go along with it, although credit to Waitakere where it’s due this wasn’t a game stolen in the dying seconds – which is their traditional method for twisting daggers through my heart. This was more a case of the Westies themselves showing fantastic grit to overcome the odds. Which just goes to show – if you ever think there can’t possibly be any new ways for things to go horribly wrong, think again.

Wanderers spent the majority of the game in the ascendency but the goals weren’t coming for them. They enjoyed several chances in the early stages but it was Waitakere who capitalised on their first real one that fell to them against the run of play, when a 14th minute shot was spilled by Wanderers goalkeeper Jackson Hawke. The ball ballooned towards the goal and was helped in by Daniel Semp.

The absolutely furious look on Alexi Varela’s face said it all.

Wanderers had an almost immediate chance for redemption just a couple of minutes later when a guilt edged chance fell to Tommy Semmy but unfortunately he nodded the cross into the base of the left hand upright with the goalkeeper beaten. The keeper, George Lawton, was far from beaten shortly after that though, when he pulled off a double save to deny Wanderers yet again.

Then came the real heart breaker two minutes after the half hour mark, when Ignacio Machucha Maturena fired home to double the Waitak advantage.

The half time break gave me a nice opportunity to forget about the horror I had inflicted on poor old Wanderers by taking in a few minutes of what looked like a very entertaining over 45’s game between Waitakere and Hibiscus Coast on the pitch next door.

Only to be jolted back into reality early in the second half of the main event by a good old fashioned bit of biff!

I wasn’t really paying attention to the incident that sparked the whole thing off but someone tackled someone, some others took offence and the next thing anyone knew it was handbags flying all over the place. My camera didn’t really catch much but apparently there were punches and the guy standing next to me swore he saw a head butt. All I know is there were three flashes of red from the referee that resulted in the rest of the match being played with 10 blue players vs 9 black.

The other defining characteristic of the second half was rain and quite a lot of it. This may have helped Waitak weather both storms – both the meteorological one and the footballing one as Wanderers went for it trying to capitalise on their numerical advantage. They couldn’t though, remarkably really, and at full time all they could do was rue what could have been in the face of some herculean Waitakere defence.

There might be one fairly significant consolation though. If the rumours I have heard from several sources are true, Waitakere’s days beating up Waikato teams in the national league could be closer than ever to coming to an end. I’m hearing they are looking to sell their license, with Three Kings United and a North Shore/Waiheke consortium the interested parties.

I would be genuinely sad to see them go. Yes, they have broken my heart a lot but I’m a football fan – if I don’t have something to whinge about then what’s the bloody point?

And, of course, rumours of Waitakere’s demise are nothing new. So let’s not write their obituary just yet…

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Premier

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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