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A triple header

Auckland 1, Capital 1
McLennan Park, Auckland, October 7 2018

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A few days ago, John Palethorpe dredged up my old Newmarket Park post and shared it on Twitter. It was a nice reminder, not just of a classic piece of work I did four years ago but also of a particular kind of football event we don’t see very often anymore – the genuine double header. Sure, we have matches with curtain raisers but it’s not very often anymore that the same league schedules two games of roughly equal standing back to back at the same venue on the same day.

Back when I was researching Newmarket Park, one of the things that was looked back on fondly by those who held the place in high esteem was that every weekend during the winter there would be two games back to back at “headquarters”. It was always good value for money, large crowds would attend and clubs would get miffed if they weren’t selected for such occasions often enough.

Funnily enough, in 1979, the year that the eastern stand at Newmarket Park collapsed down a hill in the dead of night, the Chatham Cup Final that was scheduled to be played there a few weeks later was moved to “a little known ground in Papakura”. That ground was McLennan Park. Which happened to be the venue of a National Women’s League double header last weekend!

(You see I know you were probably getting concerned but I always get to the point eventually)

And just like the double headers of yore, this one was also great value.

Everything about it was fun. The first game had lots of goals, the second game had all the suspense, and even the hour of down time in between contained some great nuggets of enjoyment.

Auckland coach Tracy Wrigley, while she was setting up the cones for her side’s warm-up, heartily recommended the food at the tuck shop and upon following her recommendation I was not left disappointed. My cheese and onion toasted sandwich rivalled the best I have had in Auckland, and while I was waiting for it to be prepared there was a delightful bonus game of football taking place in the clubrooms between Football Fern legend Maia Jackman and her young daughter. So you could even argue that it was a triple header really!

As cute as that absolutely was though, the best was saved until last as unfancied Capital, sans Sarah Gregorius, caused what is probably the upset of the competition so far by taking a point back to Wellington with them.

For large chunks of the game it was hard to tell which team was joint top of the league and which one had only picked up three points from three games until that point.

The star of the show for Capital was once again Charlotte Wilford Carroll. She played exceptionally well in a midfield that has come in for some criticism in recent weeks and after the wonder goal she scored against Central, Sunday’s volley right on the stroke of half time wasn’t half bad either. All up, not a bad showing in her first ever National Women’s League start.

An own goal 17 minutes from time levelled things up but, unlike last week against Southern, Auckland weren’t able to snatch a heartbreaker in the dying seconds despite Jade Parris finding herself with the perfect opportunity to do so – her shot parried wide by the Capital keeper instead of finding the back of the net.

In the final wash, Capital will be ruing the fact that they too had their chances to take all three points in this match, but most importantly the result signals that they are back and a force to be reckoned with in this league. I am personally delighted by this and I sincerely hope they continue to find their form – after next week’s clash with WaiBOP.

Categories: NZ Women's National League

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Enzo Giordani

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: http://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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