Wednesday, 30 November 2016


So a week after assuming that Canterbury United Pride would beat Central, Northern would beat WaiBOP and Capital would end up with an away game in the finals of the National Women's League the wonderful world of football threw up something completely different!

Firstly, Central shocked everyone by drawing 1-1 with Canterbury United Pride and then WaiBOP came from 2-0 down to beat Northern 3-2 with a last minute goal. The result was that one point separated the top four teams. Defending champions, Northern, ended on 12 points and missed out on the finals. Canterbury United Pride, Capital & WaiBOP, all on 13 points took the top 3 spots (in that order). It means Capital get a home semi final against WaiBOP, which will be played at Petone Memorial on Sunday at 1pm.

Having such a close league has shown that no team can be taken lightly and has been really good for Women's football in NZ according to Capital co-coach Emma Evans, who commented “...over the last couple of years maybe the quality and how the leagues (have been) perceived hasn't been where it should be so I'd like to think that this year it would show everyone it's getting back there again”

Evans, Capital's Football Women's Development Officer and an assistant coach of the women's team last season was joined by Petone women's head coach, Sam Morrissey, in a co-coach role for this season, something that Morrissey says is going really well “we've been together with FTC (Football Talent Center's) and other various different things as well, in terms of how its gone its worked really well”

Capital Co-Coaches Sam Morrissey & Emma Evans The JourneyFan
Taking on a Capital team that had seemed to have lost the pride of playing for the yellow jersey, finishing 6th last season, which bought with it the ignominious record of the worst ever performance by a Capital \ Wellington team at the national level was always going to be a challenge but it is one Evans and Morrissey were well prepared for.

Evans said “Although its still a young squad we have girls that have been in the league for quite a few years and have quite a bit of experience to add, its just drawing on that. I think believing in them a little bit, they weren't very confident after last years campaign so trying to build them back up again this year I knew would be key if we wanted to succeed in the league.

While building up their confidence, Evans and Morrissey wanted the players to redefine what playing for the yellow jersey of Capital Football meant. At an early season session the players outlined to the co-coaches what the campaign meant to them, identifying togetherness, unity and team culture. Evans says “Technically and tactically there's not much between each team in this league but for us that team culture and togetherness would help us in a short campaign those things make a massive difference”.

Capital 2016 - The JourneyFan
This team spirit has shone through in all their games even being picked up on by their opposition, after Capital had won 3-1, Auckland's Ally Toailoa said “no particular player stood out (but) if they dropped their heads they always picked each other up”

Morrissey said “To do it (create a culture) in such a short space of time as well, its worked out really well”

With such a tight team culture, it's hard to pick the standout players and something that Evans and Morrissey don't like to do. Evans heaping praise on the entire squad of 24 “...even the players that aren't in the starting eleven, who might not even make the game day squad, the effort and the work they are putting into every training session, even if they aren't getting on the park on the weekend those things make a huge difference and are just as important as the player who scored the winning goal”

Briar Palmer The JourneyFan
While not picking standout players, its undeniable that getting former NZ youth international, Briar Palmer, back on board after she had spells in Auckland and Australia (with W-League side Melbourne Victory) has been huge. Evans says “Briar leads by example in all that she does, she turns up to training early, works on her own individual work-ons in her own time.......her leading by example and setting the standards and driving that intensity at training....shes played overseas and that experience has been invaluable at this level and shes been a really big role model for the younger players coming through”

Sunday's opponents WaiBOP probably have the best banner in the league that says “WaiBOP when you can boogie?” when asked if they thought they would lead WaiBOP on a merry dance, Evans replied “I'd like to think so, although we can't take them lightly, we know what they are capable of. To come back from being 2-0 down to win that game against Northern, that takes heart and its a real team effort. We cant take them lightly we know what they are going to bring to the field on the weekend”

Best Banner in the league Enzo Giordani

Morrisery agreed that both teams have nothing to lose pointing out “both teams missed the finals last year so for both its good we've gotten this far, but yeah hopefully we'll do one over them”

So get along to Petone Memorial this Sunday 4th December at 1pm to cheer Capital on

Thanks to Emma Evans & Sam Morrissey for giving me their time.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Stirling Sports Premiership Round 6 Preview

Southern United created a bit of excitement at the start of the season with a new coach and 5 Irish imports, however it looks to be more of the same from the perennial cellar dwellers who are still looking for their first win of the season. The Weenix, who were aided by the A-League team not having a game beat Auckland City 1-0 and are looking a pretty useful team this season.

League Position           Southern United 10th Weenix 7th
Last Season           Southern United 1 Weenix 0
   Stat Chat                
In the 4 meetings between these teams there have be 23 goals 
an average of 5.5 per game!
Pick : Southern United 2 Weenix 5
Probably the clash of the round, league leaders Eastern Suburbs make their 2nd visit to the Capital, this time to meet defending champions Team Wellington who are on a roll winning their last 3 games in a row

League Position       Team Wellington 4th Eastern Suburbs 1st
Last season            First ever game between these 2 teams
Stat Chat
               The last time Eastern Suburbs were in the National League (1979) they also visited Wellington twice, drawing 2-2 with Wellington Diamond United 
and losing 4-1 to Stop Out
Pick : Team Wellington 3 Eastern Suburbs 1


Auckland City, who suffered their 2nd loss of the season to a late goal from Wellington Phoenix, will be looking for a good performance before they head off to Japan for the Club World Cup. Hawke's Bay United have had a mixed start to the season with 2 wins, 2 losses and a draw.

League Position              Auckland City 2nd Hawkes Bay United 5th
Last season               Auckland City 1 Hawkes Bay United 1
Stat Chat
               Hawke's Bay United have never won at Auckland City, in fact they have only ever beaten City twice the last time being a 2-0 win in 2008 
 Pick : Auckland City 2 Hawke's Bay United 1

Tasman United got their 1st win of the season with a last gasp winner in a 3-2 victory against Hamilton Wanderers. Not a great week for Waitakere, as well as not having won for 3 weeks, they were slapped with a bill of $10k for the wrongful dismissal of last years coach Brian Shelley

League Position         Tasman United 9th Waitakere United 6th
Last Season               First ever game between these 2 teams
Stat Chat
Waitakere United have failed to score in their 2 previous games, the first time since 2007 that this has happened.
Pick Tasman United 2 Waitakere United 2

Canterbury United maintained their record as the only unbeaten side in the league with a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Hawke's Bay United. Wanderer's had a late goal in their game also but it gave Tasman United a 3-2 win.

League Position   Canterbury United 3rd Hamilton Wanderers 8th 
Last Season            1st ever game between these 2 teams
Stat Chat
 Canterbury United's Aaron Clapham is the league's joint top scorer with 5 goals – 4 of these have come from the penalty spot
Pick Canterbury United 2 Hamilton Wanderers 0


Tuesday, 22 November 2016


Capital 2 Northern Football 1
National Women’s League
Petone Memorial
Sunday 20th November
Att about 120
Jayme-lee Hunter celebrates making it 1-0 to Capital The JourneyFan
This was potentially Capital's last game of the season, with only 1 round in the league that meant only 6 games and this was Capital's 6th. However they are one of the 4 teams in contention the top 3 places in the league. These are important as these places get you into the finals. 
The permutations of what was needed by whom were way to complicated to work out. Today's game was probably going to be Capital's toughest of the season. Northern are the defending champions, were unbeaten and had beaten Canterbury 3-1 earlier in the season. While Canterbury had beaten Capital 3-1 last week and last season Capital suffered a record 11-2 thrashing from Northern, so a draw or a loss by only 1 or 2 could probably be seen as a good result. Thankfully the Capital team didn't share my pessimism.

Northern started the game playing with the wind and almost had the ball in the net after 3 minutes with a shot that went just over the crossbar. Capital responded with 2 shots in 2 minutes, but it wasn't to be an end to end game with a lot of it being played in the middle of the park, this however didn't make it any less entertaining. Northern played the first half sitting back a little and allowing Capital to come at them, it would have seemed a reasonably sensible tactic had it not been for the wind which was having an noticeable impact on the game.

Everyone misses the corner The JourneyFan
It was 0-0 at half time and while Capital were playing well, there was still a feeling that Northern could easily step up another gear if they needed to. After half time though it was Capital who stepped up and with the wind behind them were pushing Northern back. Then they won a corner in the 57th minute, Briar Palmer floated a lovely ball into the six yard area and was missed completely by attackers, defenders and Northern keeper, Anna Leat, before Capital's Jayme-Lee Hunter found the ball at her feet and prodded it over the line.

While this made the Capital players and fans ecstatic, it annoyed Northern and they responded immediately with Jane Barnett scoring almost straight from the restart. It was a timely reminder for Capital not to take Northern lightly. Ten minutes later, just after Emily Morison had come on for Maggie Jenkins, Capital got another corner. Palmer again floated a lovely ball over, and the ball found it's way back to Morison on the penalty spot who despite close attention from Tessa Berger managed to get a shot away and make it 2-1 with her first touch of the game.
Emily Morison gets her shot away despite Tessa Berger's attentions The JourneyFan

This time Capital kept their concentration from the kick off and kept Northern at bay, and continued to do so until the final whistle. Northern are a great team, skillful and physically bigger than the Capital team, but it was Capital's day today they played with more tenacity and simply wanted it more than Northern. The players were always there for each other,and it was a superb team performance. If Capital have a player of the match award, I don't envy the person that had to pick it!

The result puts Capital top of the table and confirms them a spot in the top 3, where in the top 3 all depends on next weeks results. Assuming that Canterbury beat Central at home, then the best result for Capital would be a WaiBOP win or a draw as that should give them a home semi-final. Whatever happens it shouldn't bother this team too much as they seem to have a great team spirit, the desire and ability to win the championship.

The fact that this could be the last time I see Capital play at home this season, after only 3 games in a crying shame. At present it does feel as if the National Women's League is run by NZF as a box ticking exercise to ensure they can receive more grants from the likes of FIFA. 

The 2015 NZF competitions review did give the Women's National League a cursory mention but the only long term plan seemed to be a vague idea that the club's in the Men's National League would eventually run Women's teams as well. How, when and whether this would work is a whole other debate to be had.

What should happen now is that the league is extended to a become a full home and away round robin competition with 8 teams, it's the very least the players and fans deserve.
Capital celebrate Emily Morison's goal The JourneyFan



Friday, 18 November 2016

Stirling Sports Premiership Round 5 Preview

Well what a week, earthquakes, floods, mini tornado's, NZ playing and I got 4 out of 6 with my picks, including calling the NZ v New Caledonia home game correctly with a  2-0 win to NZ, shame I lost out on the away leg (which was 0-0). 
So on to this weeks games.

Good wins for both these teams last week, Hawkes Bay won 3-1 away to Tasman and Canterbury 4-1 at home to the Weenix. Hard one to pick

League Position   Hawkes Bay United 5th Canterbury United 3rd
Last season         Hawkes Bay United 2 Canterbury United 0
Stat Chat             Canterbury United have not won in Napier in the last 6 years
Pick                     Hawkes Bay United 2-1


The Weenix were holding their own against Canterbury, but getting Jack-Henry Sinclair and keeper Keegan Smith sent off saw them collapse to a 4-1 loss. Auckland City left it late to grab a winner against a much improved Southern United and with one eye one the Club World Cup in December could be vulnerable here.

League Position    Weenix 8th, Auckland City 1st
Last season          Weenix 1 Auckland City 3
Stat Chat               Auckland City haven't conceded a goal since the 3rd minute of 
                              the first game of the season – that's 447 minutes
Pick                       Auckland City 2-0


Waitakere United drop to 4th place after losing the #EastWestDerby 1-0 to Eastern Suburbs. Team Wellington seem to be hitting their stride coming from 2-0 down to hammer Hamilton Wanderers 5-2, a score which could have been a lot higher.

League Position    Waitakere United 4th , Team Wellington 7th
Last Season          Waitakere United 2 Team Wellington 4
Stat Chat               Team Wellington have only won in 3 of their 19 visits to 
                              West Auckland, but the 3rd win was the 4-2 win last season
Pick                       Team Wellington 3-2

If you look at Wanderers record so far of win, loss, win, loss, they are due a win. 
Tasman United are still looking for their first win

League Position       Hamilton Wanderers 6th, Tasman United 9th
Last Season             1st ever game between these 2 teams
Stat Chat                  In 10 games played in the Waikato by Nelson teams in 
                                 the National League they have only recorded 2 wins
Pick                          Wanderers 2-1


Eastern Suburbs are unbeaten at home this season. Southern United were unlucky not to come away with a point from their game against Auckland City are looking for their 1st win

League Position        Eastern Suburbs 2nd, Southern United 10th
Last Season              1st ever game between these two.
Stat Chat                   Eastern Suburbs have faced 5 clubs from the Southern 
                                  United catchment area (Northern, St Kilda, Dunedin 
                                  Suburbs, Caversham & Dunedin City) in the 
                                  National League or Chatham Cup
Pick                           2-2 draw


Friday, 11 November 2016

Stirling Sports Premiership Round 4 Preview

Well my picks last weekend were spectacularly wrong, only getting 1 out of 5 correct. I have also realised that the stat chat will be harder than it looked as with 3 new teams that haven't played anyone before there are no stats so I will need to be a bit more inventive.

Also an extra preview as The All White's are actually playing a home game on Saturday

Saturday 12th November, QBE Stadium, Auckland, 3pm

New Caledonia are New Zealand's 3rd most played opponent (after Australia & Fiji) with the countries having met on 30 previous occasions. NZ have won 18, New Caledonia 11 and one has been a draw.

Their last meeting was in June when in the semi final of the Oceania Nations Cup, when the New Caledonia keeper failed to hold a Chris Wood shot and NZ won 1-0.

New Caledonia's last win over New Zealand was 2-0 in 2012 in Honiara. Their last win on New Zealand soil came in 1968 when they won 3-1 at Auckland's Newmarket Park.

Pick : New Zealand 2-0


Sunday 13th November, Trafalgar Park, Nelson, 2pm (Free entry)

Tasman United's 1st ever home game in the National League and they are looking for their 1st ever win. Hawkes Bay United have had a stuttering start to the season with one win and two losses.

League Position : Tasman United 9th Hawkes Bay United 7th
Last season       : 1st ever game between these two.

Stat Chat
The last National League game to be played in Nelson was in 2011 when 2500 watched “home” team Canterbury United go down 2-1 to Team Wellington

Pick : Tasman 3-2

Sunday 13th November, Rugby Park, Invercargill, 2pm (Free entry)

Both teams involved in surprise results last week. Southern United picked up their 1st point in almost a year with a 2-2 draw away to Waitakere United, while Auckland City were held to a 0-0 draw by Canterbury United

League Position :  Southern United 10th , Auckland City 1st
Last season       :  Auckland City won 4-0, a result that secured them the minor premiership

Stat Chat 
Auckland City have won all 14 away games they have played at Southern United, their biggest win (and the league's) being 10-0 in the 2013-14 season

Pick Auckland City 4-0

Sunday 13th November, William Green Domain, Auckland, 2pm (Free entry)

The other Auckland derby – East v West. Eastern Suburbs coming of a good old fashion 4-0 hiding from Hamilton Wanderers will be without Sam Burfoot who saw red in that game. Waitakere United had a surprise 2-2 draw with Southern United but are still riding high in 2nd place equal on points with Auckland City

League Position : Eastern Suburbs 4th , Waitakere United 2nd
Last Season       : 1st ever game between these two.

Stat Chat 
Eastern Suburbs were the 2nd ever winners of the National League in 1971. 
Waitakere United have won the National League 5 times

Pick Eastern Suburbs 2-1

Sunday 13th November, English Park, Christchurch, 2pm

Canterbury United are the only unbeaten team in the league, the Weenix have collected the full set of a win, draw and a loss

League Position : Canterbury United 5th, Weenix 6th
Last Season       : Canterbury comfortably won 3-1

Stat Chat 
In the 4 clashes between the two sides Canterbury have won 3 to the Weenix's 1

Pick 1-1 draw

Sunday 13th November, Newtown Park, Wellington 4:35pm

The defending champions got their 1st win 4-2 away to Hawkes Bay United, while Hamilton Wanderers dealt out a 4-0 thrashing to Eastern Suburbs but will be without keeper Matt Oliver who was shown a red card in stoppage time.

League Position : Team Wellington 8th ,Hamilton Wanderers 3rd
Last Season       : 1st ever game between these two.
Stat Chat 
Wanderers are the 6th club from Hamilton to compete in the National League
Hamilton AFC, Waikato United, Melville United, Waikato FC &WaiBOP United have all preceded them

Pick Team Wellington 2-0


Thursday, 10 November 2016

It was 21 years......

It’s happening – yes it’s hard to believe, but the All White’s are playing a game at home! Yes for the first time since a dour 0-0 draw against South Africa in May 2014, it’s happening, coach Anthony Hudson is getting to show his team on home soil for the first time (he’s only been in the job two years!). Yes New Zealand play New Caledonia at QBE Stadium in Auckland on Saturday 12th November (KO 3pm) in a World Cup Qualifying match.

Now you’d think this would be the sort of game I’d be at like a shot. It’s international football, it’s a world cup qualifier and it’s New Zealand, and I was even in Auckland this week......But I’m not going.

Why? Well it’s not because of cost or getting time off work, if I was into click bait I would be saying the reason is much more SHOCKING than that!

When it was announced that the All White’s would be playing at home, I had to consult one of my lists to remember when the last home game was and while I was doing that I consulted my list (yes I have a lot of lists – I am a football anorak!) that was of All White’s games that I have been to. That’s when I discovered the fact I could really be a jinx and made the decision that I wouldn’t go to the New Caledonia game.

What I discovered was that I haven’t seen the All White’s win live since they beat Denmark U23 2-1 at Newtown Park on 23rd January 1995 (a game that was probably more significant for being refereed by Linda Black, making it the first ever Men's FIFA international controlled by a Woman). That’s 21 years!!!!  21 years without seeing the All White’s win live. Now this isn’t the sort of stat that Sky TV in the UK put out, when the say something like Manchester United haven’t won at Peterborough in 75 years, but neglect to point out they have only played twice during that time. No in the last 21 years I have seen the All White’s play quite a few times.

The program from the last time I saw the All Whites win
Since that day when goals to a 20 year old insurance clerk called Simon Elliott and a 27 year old manager called Mark Elrick (yes it was that long ago that players had real jobs and they would get listed in the program!) gave us a 2-1 win against kids of Denmark. I have seen the All White’s play live in Auckland, Tallinn, Ostrowiec Swietokryzski, Paris, Lyon, London, Geneva, Edinburgh, Wrexham & Wellington. I have seen them play the likes of Brazil, France, Poland, Colombia, Scotland & Japan. I have been in crowds of 30-40 000 and have been one of 7 All White’s fans in a crowd of 10 000 Polish fans.

5 of the 7 All White fans at Poland v NZ in 2003 Photo Kevin Clarke
I have seen them unluckily lose to Estonia because of a goalkeeping howler, almost beat Scotland, get torn apart by France & Brazil, play Australia off the park but lose to a 90th minute goal and come back from 2-0 down to get a draw with a Wales side that included Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy.

In all I have seen them play 15 times in 8 different countries in the last 21 years, which given the paucity of games that they play (an average of 7 a year) and that many of them are in tournament format and I was spending a lot more time watching my first country, Scotland, it’s not that bad of a record. What is bad is the fact they haven’t won any of the games I have been to. I’m starting to think it is me. 
So I have made the conscious decision not to go to the New Caledonia game in the hope that the All White’s will win. Anthony Hudson can thank me after the game!

So if you are in Auckland on Saturday get along to QBE Stadium. If you aren’t in Auckland the game will be on Sky TV at 3pm

Wales & New Zealand line up for the National Anthems, Racecourse Ground, Wrexham, 2007

The All White's games I have seen since I saw them win in 1995

Drew 0-0 with Chile in Auckland
 Lost 0-1 to South Korea in Auckland
Lost 2-3 to Estonia in Tallinn
Lost 0-2 to Poland in Ostrowiec Swietokryzski 
Drew 1-1 with Scotland in Edinburgh
Confederations Cup
Lost 0-3 to Japan in Paris
Lost 1-3 to Colombia in Lyon
Lost 0-5 to France in Paris 
Lost 0-1 to Australia at Craven Cottage (Fulham), London
Lost  0-4 to Brazil in Geneva, Switzerland
Drew 2-2 with Wales at Wrexham, Wales
Drew 1-1 with Honduras in Auckland 
Lost 0-2 to Paraguay in Wellington 
Lost 2-3 to Jamaica in Auckland
Lost  2-4 to Mexico in Wellington

Kiwi fans outside the ticket "office" at the A-le Coq Arena, Tallinn, Estonia

Monday, 7 November 2016

Year of the underdog

Capital 5 Southern United 1
National Women’s League
Petone Memorial
Sunday 6th November
Att about 100

When I’ve written before about watching a game on a typical sunny Wellington day, most would have realised my tongue was firmly in my cheek. Today’s game was more typical of the weather you would expect when watching games in Wellington. It was a gusty, overcast day and during the game we got a smattering of rain and a couple of flashes of sunshine (even bizarrely at the same time at one stage!).

With the National Women’s League season only being 6 games long this game, Capital’s 2nd at home, was the halfway point of the season for them. It’s been a good season so far, they are sitting 2nd and are unbeaten and had a good 3-1 win over Auckland last weekend. Southern United meanwhile are bottom of the league and were coming of the back of a 8-0 thrashing from defending champions, Northern.

The game was heavily affected by the wind, it was pretty gusty at one point a penalty box clearance from a Southern United defender that would have normally found the midfield around the center circle went out for a Capital goal kick! 

Taylor-Lynch & Robertson Collide The JourneyFan
Capital started playing into the wind and despite this set up camp in the Southern United half. They were dealt a blow in the 15th minute when striker, Michaela Robertson, chasing a 50/50 ball collided with Southern United keeper, Catlin Taylor-Lynch. There were calls for a stretcher and while one was bought out, Robertson is made of tough stuff and she managed to eventually hobble off with what looked like an extremely sore hip.

She wasn’t replaced straight away, but being down to 10 didn’t bother Capital when 3 minutes later, Briar Palmer broke into the penalty area from the right flank and slotted home easily to make it 1-0.

Briar Palmer makes it 1-0 The JourneyFan

7 minutes later and against the run of play Southern United got an equaliser via Stephanie Lee. The game was getting played in the middle of the park, Capital battling against the wind and Southern United unable to use it to their advantage.

Taylor-Lynch takes out Emma Main
Capital finished the first half with a flourish. Emma Main, broke towards the penalty area, Taylor-Lynch came out for the ball and realising she was outside of her area and getting beaten by Main’s run she took her down with a late tackle and earned herself a yellow card. 

Capital’s free kick specialist, Maggie Jenkins, stepped up and in an almost identical free kick to her goal against Central two weeks earlier did the same thing to make it 2-1

Fan Brandon Clarke (@kiwibardy on Twitter) captured the moment with this video.

Capital had been looking the better team and with the wind you felt they would get a few goals and it only took two minutes into the second half for Jayme-Lee Hunter to make it 3-1. Five minutes later Maggie Jenkins had her second when she pounced on a loose ball from a defensive melee. Ten minutes later she thought she had a hat trick when another defence melee, caused by keeper, Taylor-Lynch’s, inability to hold on to the ball but it was ruled out for offside.

Maggie Jenkins gets her 2nd and Capitals 4th The JourneyFan

A couple of minutes after this, Capital had a corner and Briar Palmer stepped up and her corner ended up in the back of the net. From where I was standing behind the goal it didn’t look as if it touched anyone until it was over the line, but the officials deemed it was an own goal to Southern United’s Kate Guildford. It was now 5-1 to Capital and that was the end of the scoring

Capital have two games left and are currently in 2nd place two points behind Northern. The next two games will be their toughest, away to last seasons runners up Canterbury United Pride next week and then a home game against defending champions and favourites to win the league, Northern. However this team is playing well, the return of Briar Palmer seems to have lifted the team up a level and they seem to have the spirit that could cause an upset and this year does seem to be one for the underdogs.


Next Home game 
Capital Football v Northern 
Sunday 20 November 1:30pm 
Petone Memorial