|Shetland's Simmer Dim : Dave Gilford|
In the Shetland Isles, where my one side of my family hails from, they have a period in summer with almost 24 hour daylight, the sun does actually set for a few hours, but you get these beautiful dusk sunsets and just as you think the sun is finally going to go it appears again. They call it the Simmer Dim. In Kiwi football the month of March is a sort of Simmer Dim type of month, unfortunately without the stunning sunsets, it's the time of year where football both starts and ends. The Stirling Sports Premiership (SSP) is stuttering towards it's end while the winter clubs are all into pre-season mode.
The stuttering is caused by the timing and new format of the Oceania Champions League (OCL) which has made end of a great SSP season seem a bit of an anti-climax. Some teams like Auckland City & Eastern Suburbs have completed their games and are just waiting to see who or if they will play in the finals, others like Tasman have had a break of 3 weeks, while Team Wellington have been off in New Caledonia competing in the group stage of the OCL.
The draws to fit around the OCL must have taken a bit of planning, but the one thing they didn't plan for was the weather and NZ's getting a bit of a rough time of it at the moment. While Auckland and the Coromandel got the worst of it, the rest of NZ wasn't really spared and Wellington coped a fair bit of rain. So it was no great surprise when photos of a waterlogged Dave Farrington Park appeared on social media on Sunday morning.
|Tasman United Fans The JourneyFan|
This led to a bit of angst, not least from myself as I was looking at getting public transport to Miramar but with no idea if the game would be on. Tasman United had a decent crowd of supporters up from Nelson for this game, would they be getting an away trip without a game? Also Tasman have their last game next weekend and then their players depart for their winter clubs, so there was no real scope for re-scheduling it, and I doubt NZ Football would have been keen on copping an extra $10k costs in airfares. Some of their fans, quite reasonably, asked why couldn't they just move the game to one of Wellington's many artificial turfs? This is where the simmer dim like month becomes a problem, all the turfs were booked out for pre-season games, including the group stages of 62 year old Hilton-Petone Cup.
When DaveyF was deemed unplayable, things must have gone mental, Hilton-Petone Cup organiser Barry Pickering, described his phone as running red hot as Petone moved the main cup game from Memorial Park to Lower Hutt's Fraser Park, pushed the next game's kick off back, while Team Wellington re-arranged Tasman United's transport and ensured they would get some food after the game. Tasman United and their fans worked out how to get to the new location, I sorted a lift (cheers Cam), and we got a game with a 3pm kickoff at a very wet Petone Memorial Park.
|James McPeake saves from Paul Ifill The JourneyFan|
As for the game, Tasman held their own for the first half hour and had a couple of chances, but Team Wellington's reserve keeper, James McPeake (Scott Basalaj was sick) made some vital saves. Ex Richmond Athletic player, Ben Harris, who earlier in the week somewhat mischievously claimed that he may have played for Tasman United had they asked, opened the scoring in the 28th minute and took great joy in letting the contingent of traveling Tasman United fans know about it. 5 minutes later Tom Jackson got his first. The 2-0 scoreline seemed a little harsh on Tasman United and it seemed to knock them down a bit. 2 minutes before half time a Team Wellington free kick hit the underside of the bar and in clearing the danger, Paul Ifill used his hand. Tom Jackson made no mistake from the resulting penalty and the game was effectively over. In the 2nd half Tasman United's Luca Perico picked up a 2nd yellow card and earned himself an early shower (which given the conditions was probably a welcome thing!). Tasman's lack of games for 3 weeks was showed through when Jackson pounced on some lax defending to complete his hat-trick in the 85th minute. Dylan Burns got a consolation goal for Tasman in injury time, before Justin Gulley made it 5-1 for Team Wellington.
|Ben Harris Celebrating his goal The JourneyFan|
Team Wellington will now play Waitakere United in the finals, with the venue being decided by the result of next weeks away game to Canterbury United, a win or a draw sees the game in Wellington, while a Canterbury win would see Waitakere hosting the game.
Tasman United have one game left, against Southern United, a game that was being touted as the wooden spoon decider from reasonably early in the season. But since Tasman's coach, Richard Anderson, disappeared and assistant Davor Tavich stepped up they had been unbeaten until today and have earned enough points to finish 8th or 9th. It does beg the question why they didn't go with Tavich from the start of the season?
Well done to all those involved in moving the game at such short notice, it's great to see the cooperation that involved (among others) Petone, Team Wellington, Capital Football, Lower Hutt City, Wellington United & BNU.