Birkenhead United 5, Papamoa 1
Shepherds Park, Auckland, June 24 2018
My plan was formulated as soon as I saw the confirmed fixtures. Before the draw for our two national cup competitions took place I had committed on Twitter to watching Papamoa in this Chatham Cup round regardless of who their opposition might be. So this game was a given. And I wanted to go to the Glenfield v Three Kings Kate Sheppard Cup tie that kicked off three hours before it.
In my head, I thought about what I would do in the unlikely event that Game A went to extra time and penalties, leaving me with only five minutes or so to make kick-off in game B, 5.5 kilometres away through Sunday traffic and numerous suburban intersections. The plan was to leave for Beach Haven and skip any bonus football at McFetridge. But was that ever really going to happen when there is an exciting game on? Not a chance, in hindsight.
But I am glad I rethought things and changed the run sheet on the fly.
The penalty shootout at McFetridge was exciting, my photographs caught the thrill of Glenfield’s win, and Birko had very kindly coned me off a carpark so the mad dash was reasonably stress free. At least I was happy in the knowledge that when I arrived all I had to do was get out of my car and start snapping pics. As it happened I made it a mere five minutes after kick-off having missed very little of any real significance. The scoreboard still read 0-0.
Papamoa are an interesting proposition this year. They are a club that had only been on my radar previously due to their women’s first team’s ultimately ill-fated run of a few seasons in the NRFL where they were often beaten by scores in the double figures. Their legacy is strong though, despite how maligned they might have been at the time.
It’s worth noting that a lot of the players they developed are now integral parts of other strong Northern League clubs. Youth international Sophie Stewart Hobbs, who I finished watching in action for Three Kings barely ten minutes before arriving at Shepherds Park for this game, is one notable example that springs to mind! Ayla Pratt, Shania Heath, Chelsea Elliott and Emma Cawte are a few other recognisable names who I watched play in canary yellow not so long ago.
But attention now turns to their men’s team, spearheaded by former All White Cole Peverley and coach Duncan Lowry – a man who needs little introduction after his recent stints in charge of Matamata Swifts and Tauranga City United.
It feels like a bit of a road to redemption story for Duncan, after his previous tenure at Links Avenue came to a ‘parting of the ways’. He now appears to seek to follow the Brian Cloughish kind of path, taking charge of an unheralded local rival to his old employers and seeing if he can stick it to them by mounting a comeback from the lower divisions.
Papamoa have already achieved a fair bit along that path, taking the WaiBOP Premiership by storm this year and taking out Bay Olympic in the last round of the Chatty. It’s pretty unheard of in the mists of my memory for a WaiBOP Premiership team to knock an NRFL Premier side out of Te Cup. It was a huge scalp and all eyes were on them to see if they could repeat it against a super young Birkenhead United side going through a rebuilding period after winning this competition themselves two seasons ago.
As it happened, like so many of those women’s premier games of yore albeit not to the same extent, Papamoa were lucky to come second in this one really. Goals to Birko’s Luke Jorgensen, Alex Connor-McClean, Harrison Bolton-Roberts, Lachie McIsaac and Jack Anderson saw that they did, despite Andrew Cooper’s 69th minute consolation strike for the visitors.
But that’s OK. Birkenhead SHOULD be beating the Papamoas of this world by four goals plus. It’s the fact that we didn’t expect them to that Duncan and his players can and should take great pride in.
And if there’s an NRFL second division next year, as there should be, I would bet dollars to doughnuts that they will be in it and there will be plenty more opportunities for them to shine on the big stages.
It looks like Papamoa’s history as a club that adds to the fabric of our domestic game is still its future as well.
Categories: NZ Chatham Cup
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.