Monday, 17 October 2016

IT'S BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Team Wellington Youth 1 Auckland City Youth 2
Sunday 16th October 2016
Petone Memorial
ATT about 150
Auckland City Keeper Cameron Brown saves at the feet of Team Wellington's Ihaia Delany TheJourneyFan
It’s back, Football’s back! Although it never really went away but the last couple of months have been a mix of A-League & National League pre-season games and even a couple of New Zealand internationals (where they surprised everyone with two credible performances a 1-2 loss to Mexico and a 1-1 draw with the USA).

This weekend saw the kick off of the 3 National League’s – The Stirling Sports Premiership for the men, the National Women’s League & the National Youth League, which was the reason I found myself at Petone Memorial on a gloriously sunny Wellington day.

The National Youth league has been going since 2002. This season sees a couple of changes as all teams are now youth teams of the Stirling Sports Premiership teams. It means that Nelson Marlborough Falcons and WaiBOP United are replaced by Tasman United & Hamilton Wanderers respectively. Eastern Suburbs join the league, while Heartland Wairarapa, Manawatu United & Auckland United are all dropped.

Team Wellington are the current holders of the National Youth League title, while Auckland City were runners up, but as this is a development league with an age restriction the previous seasons form isn’t really a barometer you can use in assessing the teams for this season. 

Team Wellington have only retained 2 players from their championship winning squad while Auckland City have retained slightly more with 5, however in 30 man squads this still means a large turnover of players. There have also been coaching changes for both teams. Team Wellington have entered a partnership with the Ole Football Academy this season and have new coaches in Miramar’s Rupert Crump & Ole Academy’s Ben Sippola with Western Suburbs coach & Ole Director of Coaching, Declan Edge working as Technical Director.
Auckland City lost their coach, Jose Figueira, to Team Wellington’s Premiership side and are coached this season by Andy Peat who is assisted by John Cunningham.

Auckland City's Ignacio Machuca The JourneyFan
Team Wellington had the first chance in the 8th minute when an Aaron McDonald shot went just wide of the post. Auckland City should have been 1 up in the 15th minute when a cross from Rahimi found Maro Bonsu-Maro on the penalty spot but he was unable to direct his volley into the goal. Team Wellington had a couple of other chances but it was Auckland City who were dominating the game with some nice football, especially from Ignacio Machua in the midfield. Auckland City had a few chances but (and I see this with a lot of youth teams) they tended to make the wrong decision when they got near the goal and instead of having a crack would look for the option to pass instead. They could probably have been up by a couple at half time if they had shot more.

Andy Peat may have had the same thoughts as me as in the second half Auckland City seemed to have a lot more shots on goal. Team Wellington’s keeper, Shea Stapleton, who had looked a bit suspect in the first half started to come into his own and made a couple of good saves, but when Auckland City’s Jack Anderson curled the ball into the far corner in the 73rd minute there was nothing he could do and it was 1-0 Auckland City.

10 minutes later it was all square when Team Wellington’s Ahmad Mohammadi, who had only come on as a sub 3 minutes earlier, put the ball in the back of the net.
Team Wellington's wall jumps to defend a Free kick The JourneyFan
The game started to get frantic now as Team Wellington pushed for a winner but it was Auckland City who on a counter attack found sub Antonio Bonkovich unmarked on the far post and he lobbed it into the goal.

Things weren’t over yet, somehow there were 7 minutes of extra time (I assume from the number of subs) and Team Wellington were continuing to push and they did get the ball in the back of the net in the 6th minute but it was flagged as offside (which it was)

Overall Auckland City deserved their 2-1 win but Team Wellington gave them a good game and these 2 teams should be in or around the top of the table come the end of the season.


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Diary - September



September 1st

Football Fern keeper, Erin Nayler, signs with France's Olympique Lyon

The All White's had an assistant manager, this news came as a surprise to many as NZF announced Alex Armstrong had “resigned” from the post

Tom Fawdry has been named youth coach of Tasman United. Fawdry will also be goalkeeping coach and backup keeper to Coey Turipa in the National League side.
Andy Morris, who is FC Nelson's director of football will assist him

September 2nd
NZF announce Ex Leicester City, Hull City, England U21 and 1 game England caretaker manager, Peter Taylor, as the new assistant to All White's manager Anthony Hudson

Stirling Sports are the new sponsor for the NZ Premiership, the league will kick off on October 16th, has 3 new teams (Eastern Suburbs, Wanderers & Tasman United) and the majority of games will be at 2pm on a Sunday

Another day another NZ assistant coach leaving, this time it is Football Ferns assistant, Danny Robinson who is leaving to become the Academy Manager at England's Burton Albion.

Mt Albert Grammar win a record 4th consecutive Secondary Schools girls title beating St Peters of Cambridge 6-0 in Nelson

September 3rd
Striker Myer Bevan scores a Hat trick on hid debut for the NZ U20 side as they beat the Cook Islands 3-0 in their opening game at the Oceania World Cup Qualifying series in Vanuatu.

Wellington Phoenix beat a Central League Select 3-0 in front of 2000 at Kapiti Coast United's Weka Park

September 6th
New Zealand U20's come from behind to beat Tahiti 4-1 in Vanuatu

September 7th
Gareth Turnball names an attacking squad for the U17 Women's World Cup in Jordan adding just 3 new players to the squad he took to China earlier this year

September 8th
Ex All White Tim Brown has managed to raise $9.7 million to expand his All birds woolen shoe business

Tim Brown & his All Birds shoes Stuff

September 9th
Ricki Herbert is going back to school – he has been appointed Director of Football at St Peter's college in Cambridge

September 10th
Team Taranaki beat Waterside-Karori 2-1, meaning the tie is 2-2 but they win on the away goals rule and secure promotion to the Central League

New Phoenix signing, Adam Parkhouse wins the New South Wales premier league player of the year

New Zealand U20's draw 0-0 with the Solomon Island's in their last group game in the world cup qualifying

September 11th
Forrest Hill Milford United beat Glenfield Rovers 4-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw to win the National Women's Knockout Cup

Birkenhead United beat Waitakere City 3-2 in a classic Chatham Cup final. Birkenhead were 2-0 up with 10 minutes to go when Waitakere City scored twice and forced extra time but a Ethan Galbriath goal gave the cup to Birkenhead United for the first time in their history.

Birkenhead United celebrating their first ever Chatham Cup win The JourneyFan

 2 goals to Roy Krishna & 2 free kick goals to Gui Finkler give Wellington an impressive 4-1 win over Melbourne City in Townsville

September 12th
Napier restaurant and bar the Thirsty Whale will be the sponsors of Hawkes Bay United in the coming season

September 13th
NZ U20's secure a place in the 2017 South Korea World Cup after beating New Caledonia 3-1 in the semi final

September 14th
Wellington Phoenix sign Alex Rufer on a 2 year contract. Rufer hasn't played since December due to a broken leg but has recovered ahead of time

Southern United announce they will play their home games at Peter Johnstone Park – the home of Taieri Rugby club

September 15th
The Wellington Phoenix and Queensland's Northern Fury are looking at forming a partnership which could see player exchanges between the 2 clubs

September 16th
New Zealand win the Oceania U20 tournament beating Declan Edge coached Vanuatu 5-0

NZ U20 Oceania Champions 2016 Radio NZ

Ex All White, Tommy Smith of Ipswich Town will be out of action for 3 months as he has a back operation

September 17th
A Hamish Watson goal gives the Phoenix a 1-0 win over Central Coast Mariners in Sydney

New Team Wellington coach, Jose Figuero, signs off with Central United by leading them to their 4th Northern League title

Auckland Football appoint Bill McGowan as CEO.

September 18th
Wellington Phoenix sign Sydney United defender Jacob Tratt on a 1 plus 1 year deal

September 19th
Jeff Partington, a Hastings Hibernian masters player, collapses and dies at the Nationwide Marist tournament in Napier

September 20th
Wellington Phoenix fail in their attempt to postpone their first game of the season when they will be without 5 possibly more players due to the All Whites having games against Mexico & the USA

September 21st
Ex Phoenix midfield maestro, Albert Riera is returning to NZ and has signed with Auckland City for the upcoming Stirling Sports Premiership season

September 22nd
South Auckland Rangers become the 8th club in the Auckland Football Federation region to gain QCM accreditation

September 23rd  
Auckland City beat a Melbourne City Youth \ reserve team 5-1 in Melbourne
September 24th
Wellington Phoenix complete their pre-season with a 2-1 win over Central Coast Mariners in a very wet Nelson. The game is preceded by Tasman United's first ever game who go down 1-0 to the Weenix

The seagulls waiting for the Phoenix-Mariners game to kick off in "sunny" Nelson The JourneyFan

Wairarapa United are to replace Paul Ifill as coach, a decision not just driven by results but financial considerations as well

September 25th
Auckland City hold out A-League Melbourne City for 75 minutes before conceding 2 late goals in a 2-0 loss. Melbourne City's Tim Cahill says Auckland City played really well.

September 26th
At the end of the season, Lower Hutt City coach Ryan Sandford was looking for a new job and now he has found one as Goalkeeping coach for the Bangladesh National team

Oceania now has 3 voices on the FIFA council with the election of American Samoa's Sandra Fruean and Cook Islands Lee Harmon who join Oceania president David Chung

September 27th
Sense has been reached with NZF moving the time of the NZ v New Caledonia World Cup Qualifier on the 12th November to 3pm so it no longer clashes with the Phoenix v Central Coast Mariners game in Canberra

NZF also anounce that the March 28th game against Fiji will be in Wellington and if they qualify, the Oceania playoff will be in Auckland and the Inter-contiental play off will be in Wellington

September 28th
In what seems like the ever ending league, the Northern League finally comes to a close as Birkenhead United's victory over Western Springs, sends the latter down and means the Waikato will have 1 representative in the Northern League next season as Wanderers survive

September 29th
Nelson Bays football development officer, George Campbell, is retiring after 40 years of coaching

September 30th
Wellington Phoenix continue to do what other Australian A-League clubs don't and raid the Australian 2nd tier signing Western Australian defender Ryan Lowry from ECU Joondalup

Liz Milne (Glenfield Rovers) about to score their first goal in the National Women's KnockOut Cup Final The JourneyFan

Wednesday, 5 October 2016


I love football programs, I have collected them since I started going to watch football in the 1980's. They were what helped get me interested in the history of the game, especially in NZ. I like them so much that when I was involved with North Wellington in 1998 I took on the job of producing their club program for the season, while it was a lot of fun it gave me a good understanding of the amount of work and effort that goes into the small A5 booklet that you hand out (or sell) on match day.

While it is seen by some as a dying art, big leagues like the English Premiership have given clubs templates which make them so bland and boring they are effectively glorified team sheets. Newer technology is starting to take over, I will quite often receive a tweet of the actual team sheet at the game I'm at. But programs can still be a vital part of a clubs communications and a source of revenue for advertising. So its good to see they are still going reasonably strong at the grassroots level in Wellington.

As I went around the grounds in the Central & Capital Leagues this last season I picked up programs where I could and this is a review of the ones that ended up in my possession. It's not comprehensive as I didn't get all programs available but I think it gives a good overview of what was out there.

I have ranked the top 5 and after that grouped others together.


3 of Tawa's outstanding programs

I first saw Tawa's effort online and thought it was a pretty good program that would print out in a paper A5 format. Then I visited Tawa for their Chatham Cup game against Wairarapa United and I was blown away, not by the strong wind they had that day, but the incredibly professional A4 Glossy production they had produced and whats more it was free!

As well as that and having the necessary team lists it had news and reports from all teams at the club, a good piece on Tawa's historic 1992 Chatham Cup upset when they were in Central 1 and beat National League leaders Napier City Rovers 1-0. They even had a crossword & suduko puzzle and some cartoons! Editor Shannon Doyle and his team have done an amazing job and it would be no surprise if they won Program of the year at the NZ Football Media Awards.


Stop Out v Western Suburbs program with my photo on the front cover
Now I have to put a bit of a disclaimer here – Stop Out used a few of my photos in their program this season, they even reprinted my blog post on their away game against Lower Hutt City (although it would've been nice if they asked me first, but I forgave them!) but I didn't take that into account and looked at the program overall.

Their program is a A5 glossy packed with club news, photo's, stats (both this season and historic) and fans opinion pieces, it has all the Central League results not just their own. Also impressive are the pictures of the players next to their names in the team list most helpful when trying to identify them in photographs.


Previous NZ Program of the year winners in 2012. I put them 3rd here but it would be on goal difference, like Stop Out an A5 fully glossy program and used not just for the men's 1st team but also the women's 1st team with full team lists for both home and away teams. The content was limited to a 1st team match reports and some good historical stuff. A bit more thought could have gone into the placing of ads as having 2 pages facing each other with just ads isn't a great look.


Olympic's 1st team record since 1953
Olympic pack their 16 page A5 glossy program with team lists (men's 1st & 2nd), reports, comments, adverts and a bit of history and use almost every space available. The result is a very busy program which seems to be crying out for an extra page or 2. The complete 1st team league record from 1953 when they were founded as Apollon was impressive.


OK so I couldn't separate these 2 but it was for different reasons. Island Bay United's 20 page effort has a great cover, but it disappoints when you open up to find a colourless paper interior with similar but inconsistent fonts. However the content more than makes up for this with match reports and league tables on all teams in the club including Women's & U17 and a junior club summary. They also have appearance details for both the men's 1st and 2nd teams.

Miramar Rangers have a professionally designed, well laid out and easy to read program. It has the necessary team lists and league details but lacks other content, having comments from the Chairman, Captain and both the Central League & Capital Premier coaches is a bit much, especially when they are saying the same thing. No photo's either. 

Miramar do produce an excellent online newsletter “The Ranger” with news on all club teams and player profiles and photos (yes OK they did use a couple of mine!) so its a bit of a shame they haven't combined these too a bit more with the match day program.

Mid Table Muddlers

Western Suburbs was another program that tried to pack as much as possible into it's 16 pages, but its paper and varying fonts gave it a very amateur feel, also they cut and pasted an article on the English Premiership on to the last page. This is a particular bugbear of mine, you're a NZ club playing in NZ, lets talk about NZ football!!!

Palmerston North Marist's program was from the Chatham Cup game against North Wellington and the program was surprisingly similar to the teams performance, impressive 1st half and then nothing! I realise advertising is a necessary evil but if you are going to fill up half your program with ads, no one is going to read it which sort of defeats the point.

North Wellington haven't produced a regular program for several years due to being in Capital 1. Their 8 page effort for the Chatham Cup clash against Upper Hutt City was pretty basic but did include appearance and goal scoring stats for the 1st team, and more unusually a coaches comment from the coaches of both teams.

Bottom of the table strugglers



Lower Hutt City's program was a 4 page functional, photocopied production which fulfilled their obligation to produce a program, a half hearted effort had been made with a player profile as well as the chairman and coach comments.

Wairarapa United's 12 page effort looked as if it was printed out of Microsoft Word, they had some reasonable content and they did tell me they usually had at least one photo (usually on the cover) but it hadn't been sent to the editor in time for printing for this game.

Upper Hutt City's program was surprisingly disappointing for a club that is pretty on to it with social media and communications. Only having a team list for their own team was frustrating but more so was that 11 of their 16 pages were cut and paste articles on the UEFA Champions League Final and Manchester City, I suppose at least 2 of articles were on the All Whites.

I'd like to say a big thanks to all the people who dedicate their time to producing, contributing & distributing their clubs programs. I hope you all realise that your work is appreciated and you keep it up. Programs are an important part of helping to build a football culture and also provide a valuable social history.

Thursday, 22 September 2016


A look back at NZ Football in the month of August 2016

Football Fern, Anna Green, is disappointed that she is unable to play Pokeman Go in the athletes village in Rio saying “I wish I could run around the village catching Pokemon. I just can't get it on the phone, it's fine, but it would have been something fun to do”

The All White's confirm a friendly against Mexico to be played in Nashville, USA in October. Coach Anthony Hudson says there is “no game bigger than Mexico and nothing bigger than playing at the Confederations Cup” err maybe Germany and the World Cup!

Wellington Phoenix blow a 2 goal lead and crash out of the FFA Cup 3-2 to Western Sydney Wanderers. Ernie Merrick said the game confirmed for him that he needed to sign a quality defender and quality center back.

NZ's Football Ferns go down 2-0 to World Champions USA in their opening game at the Rio

Wellington Craft Brewer, Garage Project, has secured pourage rights for Wellington Phoenix games for the next 3 years. They will also make taps available for other Wellington Independent craft brewers
Garage Project - Yellow Fever beer coming soon?

A busy day for Paul Ifill, he signs for National League newcomers, Tasman United in the morning and then scores a hat-trick for Wairarapa United in a 4-0 win against Wellington United in the evening.

Tasman United also launch their new kit, traditional Nelson colours of Blue and White in Hoop style ala QPR. The away kit is brilliant – Orange & Black!!!!

Capital Football appoint Emma Evans and Sam Morrissey as co-coaches for the Womens National League. Evans was on the coaching staff last season and is Women's Development Officer at Capital Football. Sam Morrissey is currently head coach of Petone in Capital Premier

Chatham Cup upstarts North Wellington are thrashed 6-1 by Three Kings United. Waitakere City, who have 40 year old ex All White Ross Nicholson, in goal beat Caversham 2-0 while Miramar Rangers beat Cashmere Technical 4-2 in Christchurch

The Football Ferns beat Colombia 1-0 in the Rio Olympics. The result is marred by a shocking decision by Zambian Ref Gladys to send Fern's captain Abby Erceg off in the 88th minute. The Ferns are appealing the decision.

Wellington Phoenix's Roy Krishna scores a goal for Fiji at the Olympics as they lead Mexico 1-0. It didn't last though Mexico won 5-1

Birkenhead United become the 3rd Auckland team in the Semi Finals of the Chatham Cup when they beat Forrest Hill Milford United 3-0

Wellington Phoenix sign Italian defender Marco Rossi. Rossi has played for Italy at U17, U19, U20 & U21 level and most recently was playing for Perguia. He also served a 1 year 8 month ban and coped a 20 000 euro fine for his involvement in the 2011-12 Italian Match fixing scandal (he didn't report that fixing was going on at his club, Bari, at the time)

Ernie Merrick says he doesn't run around kicking as many people as Ben Sigmund did!

FIFA overturn Abby Erceg's red card, meaning she will be able to take the field for the Fern's last group game against France

Abby Erceg in action Photo Enzo Giordani

Miramar Rangers are drawn away for the 9th consecutive time in the Chatham Cup, this time to Birkenhead United. Both teams have had only away games this year in the Chatham Cup, however Birkenhead United have traveled 60km to play their 4 games, Miramar meanwhile will have traveled 2000km!
Three time winners Waitakere City will host Three Kings United in the other semi final

August 10th
Team Wellington announce Central United and Auckland City Youth coach Jose Figueira as their new coach for the forthcoming season

The Football Ferns go out of the Olympics after losing 3-0 to France

August 11th
Football Ferns coach Tony Reddings makes a call for increased funding for his team saying they still have a lot of potential!

August 13th
Riki Herbert has put his hand up for the vacant managers job at Central Coast Mariners

August 15th
Wellington United win the Women's Central League. Despite the game against Palmy Marist being a decider, Capital Football fail to bring the actual trophy along

August 16th
Auckland City's Michael den Heijer signs with Dutch club NEC Nijem youth team
All White Chris Wood scores a stunning overhead kick for Leeds against Fulham

August 17th
There has been 3 in 2 years and now 2 in a week!
After playing Mexico in Nashville, USA, The All Whites will travel to Washington DC to meet the USA. The game came about as the USA's planned game against Ghana fell through after Ghana couldn't get a waiver on travel restrictions from FIFA

In a busy day for NZF they also submit a bid to host the 2020 Futsal World Cup

Jeremy Brockie turns down a big offer from another South African club (believed to be Mamelodi Sundowners) and signs on with Super Sport United for 4 more years

August 18th  
Some brilliant planning from the powers that be will see New Zealand take on New Caledonia at QBE Stadium on November 12th KO 7:30 just 5 minutes before the Wellington Phoenix kick off against Central Coast Mariners in Canberra in the A-League!
August 19th
Wellington Phoenix sign striker Adam Parkhouse from Manly United

August 20th
Wellington Olympic win the Central League coming from 2-0 down to beat Stop Out 4-2

Wellington Olympic celebrating the Central League Photo The JourneyFan
August 22nd
Christchurch United announce they are to partner with the Christchurch Football Center and Christchurch Football Academy. A move that has effectively saved the 6 time National League & Chatham Cup winners from extinction.

August 23rd
Marco Rojas has been released by German club VfB Stutgart

Ex All White, Kris Bright continues his bid to have more clubs than Lydia Ko, signing for Northern Irish side Linfield, his 15th club in 13 different countries
August 24th
Nic Millichip from Kataikati FC is named junior coach of the year and will get to go to the Club World Cup in Japan with Auckland City

Referee Sarah Jones has been appointed to as an A-League assistant referee for the 2016-17, while Anne-Marie Keighly has been named as a referee for the Premiership in NZ

Oceania make a bid for administrators of the year botching the Champions League draw, once they get it sorted Auckland City get drawn with Lae City Dwellers (PNG), Vanuatu champions (still to be decided), runners up Solomon islands. Team Wellington get Fijian champions (still to be decided), New Caledonia's Hienghene Sport and the winners of the qualifiers

Mainland Football are to name the grandstand at English Park in honour of All White legend Steve Sumner
Steve Sumner in front of the newly named Steve Sumner Stand at English Park Photo Stuff

August 25th
Korouch Monseff is named coach of Northern Football women's team, he will be assisted by NorWest United's Chris Acott

Marco Rojas signs for Melbourne Victory

August 26th
A day for International signings in the National League, Tasman United sign Swede Ermal Hajdari. Canterbury United sign University of California Americans Kris Schultz & Matt Wisenfarth

August 27th
The National Women's Knockout Cup will be an all Northern Federation affair after Forrest Hill Milford United demolish Cashmere Technical 6-0, while Glenfield Rovers edge past a spirited Upper Hutt City 1-0

Ex Team Wellington coach, Matt Calcott has a new job as coach of the Cook Islands U20 side

August 28th
Another cup final, another all Northern Federation affair, this time in the Chatham Cup, 1st division Waitakere United hammer Premier division Three Kings United 6-1, while Birkenhead United beat Miramar Rangers 3-1

Andy Peat is named new coach of Auckland City Youth. Peat was part of the coaching team for the Canada women's team who achieved a bronze medal at the Olympics

Ex National League player Terry Boylan will assist Paul O'Reilly at Southern United. Graham Marshall takes control of the youth team

August 29th
After 2 Chatham Cup wins and 4 consecutive Mainland Premier League titles, Cashmere Technical coach Scotsman John Brown is stepping down to spend more time with his family

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Island Time

Waiheke United 5 Norwest United 1
AFF / NFF Conference
Onetangi Sports Park, Waiheke Island
Saturday 10th September
Attendance : 120 or so

The Curva del Waiheke Photo : The JourneyFan
What follows may be described as a tale you won't believe, it involves ferry's, buses, angry chickens, early kick offs, drum beating fans, hitchhiking, the police, dodgy builders and chili calamari! (oh and a little bit – a very little bit of football!)

Having decided to head to Auckland for Chatham Cup final, it dawned on me that the games would be on the Sunday and there was the possibility of taking in some football on the Saturday. So I contacted Enzo from In the back of the net. He was keen on heading to Whangarei to watch some crazy Italians but had also been invited to Cambridge to watch a crazy ex All White's (Mike Groom) team in their cup final. I had it suggested to me that I should take in the star studded Central United over 35's team which includes the likes of Ivan Vicelich in their ranks, but in the end it was the crazy ultra fans of Waiheke United that won the day.

I had heard about the Waiheke United ultras from an article Enzo had written and also a piece in the mainstream media . They have several nationalities playing at the club, the predominant one being Argentinian. With this they bring a passionate and noisy support with flags, banners and drums. Not bad for a club which plays at about the 5th tier of NZ Football.

I met Enzo at the Waiheke Island ferry terminal and discovered we were to be joined by Yellow Fever stalwart, KiwiBardy. So on a gloriously sunny day be boarded the ferry to the picturesque island of Waiheke. An Orca decided to accompany the ferry but by the time we got our cameras out it was off. Then it was on to the bus and a 45 minute tiki tour around the Island, why is it football grounds always seem to be at the end of bus routes?

The angry birds Photo Kiwibardy
We alighted from the bus at the entrance to Onetangi Sports Park and were confronted by a mass of angry birds, well a hell of a lot of chickens, and rather than run away as chickens usually do these ones came towards us looking for food, or maybe they thought Kiwibardy was trying to communicate with them as he tweeted on his phone!

A 10 minute walk later we heard the drums and a comment they must be warming up sounded plausible until we turned the corner and saw the game was underway. I asked a spectator what the score was and was told 4-0 to Waiheke, and that the game was 10 minutes into the second half.

We soon discovered that despite the coming from a country where football is number one, even the Argentinians had succumbed to the traditional Kiwi way of life and had got the game moved to an early kick off so they could get to the rugby in Hamilton later that night (I suppose it was Argentina that were playing)

Still we got to see a bit of football and 2 more goals as the game ended 5-1 to Waiheke. The Ultras lived up to their reputation and was worth the visit alone. It was also great to see the team join in the singing and dancing after the final whistle.
Waiheke's Alejo Villasana attempting to fly Photo The JourneyFan
Waiheke United players joining the fans after the game Photo : The JourneyFan
With there being no bar at the ground we decided we should start walking back towards the bus stop. KiwiBardy suggested that we should try hitchhiking and stuck out his thumb, almost immediately a car stopped, I am using the term car in the loosest possible terms here, it was a pretty small 2 door hatchback with no back seats!

Now none of us are really known as small guys, I'm 6”1 , Enzo is a couple of inches taller than me, while Kiwibardy may be slightly shorter he is not someone who could be described as small either. Our potential driver seemed to think our size and his lack of a back seat would be no problem and told us to jump in. So we did, Enzo took the front, while me & Kiwibardy clambered on to the myriad of builders tools that were in the place of the back seat (this also led to our collective imagination being engaged for a tenth of a second and coming up with the name of Bob the Builder for our driver). Surprisingly we managed to get in reasonably easy, I went to close the hatch but Bob the builder had decided to drive off by then so rather than risk falling out the back of the car I left it.

"Bob The Builder"
Bob liked to talk and after a big up of the Waiheke United fans (he was a rugby bloke but goes because the crowd was brilliant), a short synopsis of his life and how he ended up on Waiheke, he launched into a rant about cowboy builders and the NZ building code, it was such a good rant that when Kiwibardy finally managed to get a word in, and it was a word agreeing with Bob, Bob was having none of it and shot KiwiBardy's argument down!!!

So there we were, 3 big blokes and Bob the Builder cruising along in a Tardis like hatchback, with the hatch up and the inevitable happened.......a police car went past us the other way, he obviously clocked us and started slowing down to turn around. I said to Bob that he may want to pull over before the cop did, Bob agreed this was a good idea not least because he stated that there was a good chance he was over the drink drive limit!

Bob's cunning plan, which was worthy of Blackadders Baldrick, was to jump out the car and go to the Pizza shop, this was thwarted by the Pizza shop being closed! Bob didn't have a plan B and by now the policeman had pulled up and was checking out the car. Again we engaged our collective imagination and came up with the name of Policeman Pat for the cop.

I'm not sure what it was maybe it was the Policeman Pat's seeming amazement that us 3 big blokes had managed to fit into the Tardis hatchback, maybe he bought my sob story about coming all the way from Wellington to see Waiheke United play only for the game to be moved to an earlier time (unlikely), but most likely he was enjoying spending a beautiful day on Waiheke Island covering for his Island based colleagues which had got him away from a Friday night Queen Street patrol and was struggling to believe what he had come across.

In the Tardis Car Photo KiwiBardy
Policeman Pat turned out to be a nice bloke who let us off with a telling off. Now most people would take a cop letting you off as a cue to thank him and get away from there (especially if there is a chance that you could be over the drink drive limit) but Bob the Builder liked to talk and came out with the immortal line “I was assaulted last night” and proceeded to show Policeman Pat his black eye.

We started to shuffle away and towards the bus stop, when Policeman Pat, probably wanting to get away from Bob the Builder, asked where we were going and offered us a lift. So it was away from the Tardis Hatchback into a 4 wheel drive Police car, and lots of dirty looks from people trying to work out what we had done wrong.

On arriving in Oneroa, I took us up to a cafe\bar that I knew had Waiheke United FC scarfs and pennants on the wall, only to find that it was closed (they apparently close at 12 on a Saturday!). Deciding the Polo club type place was probably a bit too posh for us we found a bar with a great view only to discover it was closing! Luckily they directed us to a bar downstairs from them and we finally got a well earned beer and a snack of Chilli Calamari, which Enzo proceeded to adorn his pristine white shirt with.

As we headed off to the ferry, we agreed it had been some day. But it wasn't quite over as we got closer to the ferry so did the departure time so we had to run the last 500 meters, which I was impressed I managed! And we got on to the gangplank only to be told the ferry was full and we couldn't get on!

It was a somewhat fitting end to what had been an adventurous day and I think if I did it again, I'd like to get the kick off time right and see more of the football next time!

Waiheke Island ferry leaving without us Photo KiwiBardy


Footnote : Congratulations to Waiheke United, who this weekend won the Conference and with it promotion to Northern League Division 2.