Monday, 22 August 2016

πρωταθλητές - Champions!

Stop Out 2 Wellington Olympic 4
Central League
Hutt Park
Saturday 20th August 2016
Attendance about 400
Photo : The JourneyFan

The champions of the 2016 Central League would be decided today. Going into today's games there were 3 teams with a chance of claiming the title. Wellington Olympic had the easiest permutation – Win and it was theirs. Miramar Rangers had to win and hope Stop Out could beat or draw with Olympic, while Napier City Rovers had to beat Lower Hutt City and hope Olympic and Miramar lost.

In the English Premier League they would call a day like this helicopter Sunday as they would have the trophy in a helicopter ready to fly to present to the winners. I doubt Capital Football's budget would extend to a helicopter, instead it was in the back of one of their cars! (at least they had it, unlike the deciding game for the Women's Central League last weekend!)

This game really was the cliché game of 2 half's. In the 1st ten minutes Olympic had a free kick just outside the area but nothing came of it but that was about as close as they came. Stop Out on the other hand were playing like a team that wanted to win the Championship – even if they couldn't. They opened the scoring in the 16th minute when Blake Weston bought down Luis Corrales as he broke into the penalty area. Corrales landed awkwardly on his arm and had to go off. Blake Weston was very lucky not to be joining him as it seemed a direct goal scoring opportunity, in the end the referee didn't even give him a yellow card. Stop Out's Steven Gulley slotted home the penalty to make it 1-0.

Steven Gulley makes it 1-0 from the spot Photo : The JourneyFan
Andrew Abba makes it 2-0 Photo : The JourneyFan

The rest of the half was all Stop Out and Andrew Abba capped off the half with a nicely taken goal to make it 2-0 at half time. The Olympic fans had turned up in numbers but must have been wondering why their team hadn't seemed to turn up. As it stood at half time, Miramar and Napier were both 2-0 up and the trophy looked to be heading to Dave Farrington Park.

Only those in the dressing room will know what Olympic coach, Stu Jacobs said at half time, but whatever it was it worked. It took Olympic just 5 minutes to score when Jordan Massuers drove in a low shot from 12 yards out. 2 minutes later it was all square when Kieran Paterson put the ball in the back of the net. Olympic were fired up and this was their half, it was their season, and in the 60th minute they went 3-2 up when Jimmy Haidakis scored a stunning volley. 
Jimmy Haidakis celebrates making it 3-2 Photo : The JourneyFan

Stop Out were still attacking and looking dangerous and the game definitely wasn't won until Patterson got his second when he headed in a cross from captain Chas Lawrence to make it 4-2 with less than 10 minutes to go. And that was it Olympic had shown how they deserved to be champions coming from 2 goals down to win 4-2 and win the Central League for the 3rd time in their history (1991 & 2010 the previous wins). A great achievement, especially considering when coach Stu Jacobs took over at the start of the season he said this year wasn't so much about winning as consolidation!

Wellington Olympic - Central League Champions 2016 Photo : PHOTOMAC

 For Photos from the game click here 


For Photos from Olympic's after match celebrations click here



Thursday, 11 August 2016

Mid-week catch up

Brooklyn Northern United 1 North Wellington 3
Capital Premier
Wakefield Park
Wednesday 10th August, KO 7:30pm
Attendance about 40

At the beginning of the season I made the bold claim I was going to attempt to get to every Wellington club. I soon realised that there were more clubs than weeks and work also dictated which games I could get to, so I would need to change my aim to a couple of seasons. However one I thought I would get to was Brooklyn Northern United, not only because they were celebrating their centenary this season, (Incidentally there is a good write up of their centenary do here) but because I know a couple of people involved with the club, and it being one of the more social clubs in Wellington, it was one I've always liked.

But draws, work and the Central League being really exciting this season (oh and the fact they play at Wakefield) has meant I hadn't managed to get to BNU yet. So when I discovered they were playing North Wellington in a catch up game on Wednesday night I was up for it.

BNU & North Wellington are similar clubs. BNU were formed in 1972, however can trace their actual foundation back to 1916 via Institute Old Boys (who changed their name to Brooklyn United in 1956). Northern were a club set up by Chinese immigrants from the north of China, but by 1972 the club was better known for its large number of British ex-pats. The merger of the clubs formed Brooklyn Northern United.

North Wellington were also formed in 1972, but like BNU can trace their history back a bit further. They were a merger of Onslow, who were formed in 1934 and Johnson Villa, formed in 1954.

Both clubs have spent most of their time in the lower Central Leagues, occasionally getting to the top level, but not surviving long there. If you look at club honours BNU have won Central League Division 2 in 1978 and Capital Division 1 in 2002, while North Wellington have won Central League Division 2 in 1990 and Capital Division 1 in 2015!

Against each other it is North Wellington who have been dominant, winning 17 of 31 league and cup games played between the clubs at the top level since 1972, with BNU winning 8. BNU have only beaten North Wellington twice since 2003, the last time being 5 years ago in 2011.

This game could be a significant one for BNU, if they won it would put them clear of the bottom 3. The reason for the significance is that Petone have been relegated from the Central League and if Waterside-Karori fail to beat Team Taranaki in the playoff there will be 3 teams relegated from the Capital Premier League.

For North Wellington they were safe mid-table and playing catch up games after their Chatham Cup run which they equaled a club best of reaching the quarter finals, before getting hammered 6-1 by Three Kings United who are currently 2nd in the Northern League.

BNU & North Wellington ready to take the field

Before the game BNU coach Dene Bannister had his team out there and was encouraging them to look up for it and ready as North Wellington strolled out. Whether or not that worked is up for debate, but the first significant thing to happen in the game was after 17 minutes when BNU had a pretty reasonable penalty claim turned down, the ref instead giving a free kick to North Wellington for what he said was a BNU player pulling a shirt!

5 minutes later, North Wellington went 1-0 ahead with a controversial goal, Japanese striker Shohei Watanabe received a cross near the penalty spot and appeared to control the ball with his hand, while BNU shouted loudly for a handball, the ref and his assistant did nothing so Wantanabe turned and put the ball in the net to make it 1-0.

The rest of the half passed without much incident, North Wellington having more of the chances with Kieran Cripps uncharacteristically  missing a sitter in the 35th minute and Wantanabe almost getting a carbon copy of his first goal (without the hands) in the 41st minute.

For a team that needed the win more than their opposition BNU just didn't have it up front, they managed a couple of half chances but never really troubled the North Wellington Keeper. The 2nd half was much the same after 12 minutes BNU gave away a penalty which was easily converted by North Wellington Captain, Karl Romijn. 20 minutes later North Wellington effectively ended the game with a 3rd goal. But as often happens in these situations, the team on the losing end realises they are losing and steps up a gear and throws players forward, if only they had done that from the start!

It led to a entertaining last 13 minutes, in which a couple of over the top challenges went in and tempers between the teams started to flare. After one rash tackle North Wellington's number 12 was extremely lucky to stay on the pitch after he kicked out at a BNU player after the whistle had blown, receiving just a yellow card. The game was getting more physical and the "bantering" between players also stepped up a notch, which gave the fans a bit of a laugh and then BNU eventually got the ball over the North Wellington goal line but with only 1 minute left it was too little too late and they now need to beat Tawa on Saturday to ensure they avoid relegation, otherwise they will have to rely on other results going their way and/or Waterside-Karori to beat Team Taranaki in the Central League play off.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The Diary - July


JULY 2016

July 1st
Wellington Phoenix launch their season memberships for 2016-17, $189 for 10 games and also memberships packages for Northern (Auckland, Hamilton & New Plymouth) and New South Wales games

The Christchurch Football Academy is launching an International 32 team junior tournament for 9 – 12 year old's due to be played on 15-17 July with the intention of becoming an annual event

July 2nd
Ngaruwahia United bow out of the Chatham Cup for the 2nd time this year, this time losing 5-0 to Western Springs. They had lost 3-0 to Mangere United in round 1 but Mangere fielded an ineligible player so were disqualified. Western Springs now play Birkenhead United next week with the winner playing East Coast Bays

July 4th
Monty Patterson signs a 1 year deal with Ipswich Town of the English Championship

Wellington Phoenix's Blake Powell is leaving the club and returning to Sydney for personal reasons

July 5th
Tony Reddings springs no surprises and names an experienced Football Ferns squad for the Rio Olympics. Between them they have 1331 caps.

Football Ferns Squad Photo : Photosport

Matt Calcott, coach of the ASB Premiership champions Team Wellington, resigns from the position saying they “...have battled way above average” and that the franchise “...had struggled around some leadership”
Team Wellington chairman, Peter Chote, says “he wouldn't have a clue” what that meant

Wellington Phoenix beat Stop Out 5-1 in a preseason friendly

July 6th
New Zealand U17 goalkeeper, Michael Woud signs a 3 year deal with FA Premiership side, Sunderland.

San Jose Earthquakes Kiwi, Kip Colvey is loaned out to Sacramento Republic

July 7th
Eastern Suburbs announce that their current Northern League coach, Malcolm McPherson will also be their National League coach, he will be assisted by Martin Bullock.
 Honai Edwards will be the youth team coach

July 8th
Good news for All Whites fans – they will be getting some games at home.
They are drawn against Fiji & New Caledonia in the World Cup Qualifying group
They will play home and away against New Caledonia in November & Fiji in March

Central Coast Mariners sign ex Phoenix players Blake Powell & Kwabena Appiah

July 9th
One cap All White, Greg Draper, scores in the UEFA Champions League for his Welsh club The New Saints

July 11th
91 cap Football Fern midfielder, Betsy Haslett, signs for Ajax Amsterdam

Abby Erceg scores 2 goals for Western New York Flash in a 3-1 win over Seattle Reign in the USWL, on what must be one of the smallest playing fields ever used!

Luke Adams could be marking Christiano Ronaldo at next years Confederations Cup as Portugal qualify by winning the European Championship 1-0 over France

July 12th
the U17 Women are shown what the real world of football is like with a 6-0 hammering from China in China

All Whites forward Shane Smeltz signs for Malaysian side Kedah

Phoenix new signing's, Kosta Barbarouses & Gui Finlker get 4 goals between them in 27 minutes as the Phoenix demolish a 2nd string Miramar Rangers side 7-1

July 13th
Football fern, Katie Duncan shaves her head for charity

July 14th
Winning the Oceania Nations Cup has helped the All Whites climb 54 places in the FIFA ranking, they are now 93rd

Another month, another use for this Ben Sigmund Photo Photo: The JourneyFan
Capital Premier side, North Wellington, sign ex Phoenix defender, Ben Sigmund as their Football Development Manager

NZ U17 women lose 3-1 to Canada in the 2nd game of their tour of China

July 15th
An arrest warrant has been issued for EX head of Christchurch based, International Football Academy of NZ (IFANZ) and EX Selwyn United board member, Piri Reiri, who took $93000 from families for kids to travel to train at Spanish La Liga club Valencia but the tour never took place and Reiri is now living in Australia.

July 16th
Caversham need extra time to beat Queenstown Rovers 1-0 in round 4 of the Chatham Cup. Birkenhead win a 5-3 classic at East Coast Bays while 9 man Wairarapa United lose 4-2 to Miramar. Cashmere Technical beat Roslyn-Wakari 11-0 in the Women's Knock out cup

The winter seasons first league winners are decided when Old Boys win the Donald Gray Premiership in Southland and Upper Hutt City win Capital Division 1 without kicking a ball, thanks to Petone beating their nearest rivals, Lower Hutt City, 3-1

July 17th
Capital Premier North Wellington, provide the upset of Chatham Cup round 4 with a 3-2 away win over Central League Palmerston North Marist
Kieran Cripps scores a diving header for North Wellington v PN Marist Photo: The JourneyFan
Upper Hutt City's, Kennedy Bryant, scores a late winner in the 3rd minute of extra time to give Upper Hutt City a 1-0 win over Seatoun and join Cashmere Technical, Forrest Hill Milford United & Glenfield Rovers in the Women's KO cup semi finals

July 20th
Cashmere Technical coach, John Brown, apologises for his and his teams behaviour on a flight from Wellington to Christchurch where they were met off the plane by Police

NZ women's U17 coach, Gareth Turnball, says of the recent tour to China, where they lost 6-0, 3-1 & 5-1 to China, Canada & Japan respectively. “Being humbled has grounded us as a group and made us very aware of our current short comings” although he believes they now know what os required to achieve a result at the upcoming U17 world cup in Jordan

Central League Petone, who haven't won a game all season, sack head coach, Graeme Little. His assistant Paul Whitmarsh takes over.

Forrest Hill Milford United women's team start a givealittle page to raise funds for their Women's Knock out fixture against Cashmere Technical in Christchurch. Meanwhile reports abound of Forrest Hill Milford's men 1st team players getting paid $1000 per game! 

July 22nd
NZF say they have full confidence in FIFA to ensure the 2018 World Cup in Russia is free of drug cheats. After WADA has exposed a state sponsored drug program in Russia

Ricki Herbert's football academy U11 team based in Tauranga, 
wins the 2016 Sydney Youth Cup

July 25th
Despite offers from 2 bigger Eastern European clubs, Ramon Tribuletix signs on with Auckland City for another season.
Ramon Tribuletix with Oceania Champions League trophy Photo The JourneyFan

Ernie Merrick calls for the scrapping of the A-League salary cap, saying its been 10 years and we've grown up now

July 28th
NZ Football is on the search for a junior coach of the year. The competition is open to the many volunteers that dedicate their time to junior coaching. The winner will get to go to the club world cup in Japan with Auckland City

All White, Clayton Lewis, who voluntary withdrew from the Oceania Nations Cup has been banned for a month due to a positive drug test. Lewis, an asthmatic, was found to have too high levels of Ventolin in his system. 
Leniency was shown as it was an honest mistake – he was only trying to ensure he was able to breathe!

Another women's team, another male coach – last seasons assistant coach, Barry Gardiner, is named coach of WaiBop United for this season's Women's National League

Former All White, Tommy Smith, signs a 3 year contract extension with Ipswich Town

Wellington Phoenix win the Capital Cup, defeating Beijing BG 2-1 in Beijing. The game was to mark the 10 year anniversary of Wellington & Beijing's sister city relationship and may become an annual fixture played alternately in each city

July 29th
Kirsty Yallop gets her 100th cap and Rebeka Stott her 50th cap as the Football ferns beat South Africa 4-1 in a warm up game in Brazil before the Olympics kick off next week

July 30th
Glenfield Rovers become the latest club to achieve Quality club mark accreditation. They are the 14th club in the Northern Football federation to do so

July 31st
Three Kings United win the Auckland Women's Premier League for 2016

Three Kings United - Women's Northern League Winners 2016 Photo Enzo Giordani

Monday, 1 August 2016

The Venus Shield goes to..............No one yet!

Western Suburbs 2nds 6 Waterside-Karori 1
Capital Premier
Endeavour Park
Sunday 31st July 2016
Attendance about 120

Western Suburbs and Waterside-Karori are two of Wellington's oldest clubs. Western Suburbs being formed in 1906 as Mental Hospital, changing their name to Western Suburbs in 1956, then Porirua United in 1973, a merger with Viard Old Boys in 1984 saw them become Porirua Viard United and then a further merger with Mana United in 1992 saw them revert to the Western Suburbs name. 
Whilst being called one of Wellington's oldest clubs, Waterside-Karori were actually formed in 1987 by a merger of Waterside (known as Columbus Waterside) and Karori Swifts.
Karori Swifts being formed in 1894 as Swifts and adding the Karori name in 1968 when the settled on Karori as their home base. Waterside had been formed in 1921 as a club for dock workers and had established themselves as one of the top clubs in NZ winning the Chatham Cup 3 times in a row between 1938-40, a feat that has only been matched by Christchurch United in the 70's and Waitakere City in the 90's.

Today's league match was a potential title decider with Waterside-Karori, 7 points ahead of Western Suburbs and needing just a draw to win the Venus Shield, a trophy well known to both clubs having won it 26 times between them and their various incarnations).
The Venus Shield, first presented in 1895

This season Waterside-Karori had 13 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss (early season to Tawa), scored 51 and conceded only 11 goals. So even though Western Suburbs were 2nd in the table they were still 7 points behind and it was a reasonable assumption to make that Waterside-Karori would get at least a draw today and maybe I could get some great photos of the team celebrating with Wellington's oldest trophy.

Waterside-Karori started brightly enough almost having 2 goals in the first 5 minutes with just some wayward shooting letting them down, but then Western Suburbs American import, Matt Walker, made what was to become a trade mark break down the right flank and got the ball over to Sasha Snyed who easily made it 1-0.

Matt Walker about to score
From then on it was all Western Suburbs, in the 25th minute, Matt Walker made another of his trade mark breaks down the right flank and this time scored himself. A minute later the ball was in the Wharfies net again but this time it was ruled offside, but they didn't have to wait long before an almost identical run and cross from Michael Walker this time found Michael Fraser who made it 3-0 after 30 minutes. They almost made it 4 by half time when they had a free kick that hit the crossbar.

At half time some optimistic Wharfies fans opinionated that they only needed 3 goals as a draw was enough to win the title and this team should have no problem getting that.

However it was Western Suburbs that picked up where they left off with Ahmad Monammedi scoring after just 5 minutes. A minute later Waterside-Karori got some hope when Babero pulled a goal back to make it 4-1. Although this didn't last long when 5 minutes later Western Suburbs were awarded a penalty and Moammedi sent Waterside-Karori's Jack Kemp the wrong way. 20 minutes later Moammedi completed his hat-trick with a volleyed shot from just outside the penalty area which found the roof of the net.

Ahmad Monammedi send Jack Kemp the wrong way from the penalty spot

Western Suburbs even spent the last 10 minutes with only 10 men on the pitch after Mikey Faber, took down Waterside-Karori's Leo Villa and received a 2nd yellow card. The resulting free kick was on target until it took a deflection of Western Suburbs Sasha Sneyd and spun up over the bar, which sort of summed up Waterside-Karori's in that they were just not good enough on the day and they spent the last 10 minutes looking for the ref to blow for full time and put them out of their misery.

I turned up with a not unreasonable expectation of possibly seeing Waterside-Kaori lift the Venus Shield. Waterside-Karori didn't turn up, but Western Suburbs did and they punished a hapless Wharfies side and now what looked like being a formality now looks quite interesting.

Waterside-Karori need 3 points from their last 2 games against 3rd place Island Bay United & relegation battling Victoria University. Western Suburbs have a local derby against Tawa and then meet Island Bay United. Its an outside chance but if they play the way they did today and Waterside-Karori falter they could sneak the title. If they did manage it, like today's game it will be well deserved.


A Wests player Jumps ove Watersides Ethan Cain

Leo Villa taking a free kick

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The Diary - June

A look back at the month in NZ Football 

NZ Oceania Nations Cup Champions 2016 (photo : NZ Football)

June 3rd

Northern League Division 1 club, Mangere United, are docked of all their points after it is discovered that a player they registered was actually a kid from Central United and not the player that had been playing for them!

The A-League is one of 3 leagues (the others being the Germany's Budesliga & USA's MLS) that will test video technology next season – hopefully the A-League won't be looking to Australia's Rugby League bunker for help!

A street in Whanganui is to be named Leicester Place in honour of Leicester City's achievement of winning the English Premier League. Shame they never did something similar when their own Wanganui Athletic reached the National Round of the Super club in 1993

June 4th

A Luke Adams strike gives the All Whites a 1-0 win over the Solomon Islands, the group title and a place in the semi finals at the Oceania Nations Cup (ONC)

The Football Ferns lose 2-0 to Australia in the first of a 2 match series that is a warm up for both countries going to the Rio Olympics.

June 5th

New Zealand will face New Caledonia after hosts, Papua New Guinea, thrash Samoa 8-0 to win Group A and a match up with the Solomon Islands in the ONC

Jade Parris (Eastern Suburbs) and Emma Main (Upper Hutt) both score 7 goals as Eastern Suburbs beat Papakura City 13-0 and Upper Hutt beat Victoria University 12-0 in the National Women's Knock Out Cup

Ben Sigmund scores on his debut for Cashmere Tech in their top of the table Mainland Premier League clash against Coastal Spirit, which Tech win 6-2

June 6th

1982 All White Steve Sumner is awarded a ONZM in the Queens Birthday honours list

Steve Sumner with a couple of half decent Brazilian Footballers (Pele & Zico) (Photo:Stuff)

Capital Premier side Island Bay United continue their giant killing exploits in the Chatham Cup beating Central League Wellington (Phoenix) United 1-0. Hamilton Wanderers, Melville, Cambridge all exit meaning there are no Waikato clubs left in the competition and we are only in round 2!

After 2 years and 16 games (5 wins, 11 losses) in charge,
Ricki Herbert is sacked by the Maldives

June 7th

The Football Ferns put in a much improved performance and draw 1-1 with Australia and have a blatant penalty claim turned down

June 8th

The All Whites sneak into the Nations cup final thanks to a New Caledonia 
goalkeeping error (at 2:20 if you don't want to watch all the highlights)

Rory Fallon is named assistant manager of Truro City, with ex Plymouth Argyle team mate Lee Hodges being named manager. Fallon will also play for the club

Napier City Rovers and Canterbury United player Angus Kilkooly is off to Lithuania for trials, despite not having a clue where the country is. He says it is around 20C which will make a change from the minus degree morning frosts in Hawke's Bay – wait till winter arrives in Lithuania when 0C is positively warm!

June 9th

Chris Wood is out of the ONC as he is attending his sisters wedding.
NZF initially deny this is the case but then admit its true.

The A-League fixtures are out and the Phoenix home games in Wellington are mainly on a Saturday night, there will be 4 “home” games elsewhere in NZ, 
2 in Auckland, 1 in Hamilton and 1 in New Plymouth.

June 10th

The only Phoenix player left from the original season, Vince Lia, signs a 1 year contract extension

June 12th

The All White's win the ONC on penalties over Papua New Guinea after a dire 0-0 draw. Coach Anthony Hudson says he is extremely proud.

Rory Fallon defends NZ's style of play in the ONC saying 
“I don't care for the purists, I just care about winning that's all that matters”

June 14th

The USA U19 women's team embarks on a mini tour of Albany with a 2-1 win over NZ A

June 15th

Ben Sigmund is voted Wellington Sports Personality of the year.

Ben Sigmund - Wellington Sports Personality of the year

ASB Premiership Champions Team Wellington lose out on team of the year to the Capital netball team

June 16th

Irishman Paul O'Reilly, the current South Canterbury football development officer, is appointed head coach of Southern United

June 17th

USA U19's 2nd game of their mini tour takes them to Albany again, 
this time for a 4-4 draw with the NZ U20 team

June 19th

The USA U19 women end their arduous tour of Albany, with a 4-1 win over the NZ U20 side

June 22nd

NZ are drawn with Tahiti, Solomon Islands and the U20 preliminary winners for the Oceania U20 Championship to be held in Vanuatu from 3-17 September

June 23rd

Wellington Phoenix are giving all 8000 junior players in the Wellington region a junior Nix card which will allow them free entry to the first 3 home games of the season, after that they can get the rest of the games for $20

June 25th

Chatham Cup holders Eastern Suburbs bow out 3-2 to East Coast Bays in round 3
Northern League Division 2 side Waitemata beat 5 times winners and Northern Premier League side Central United 2-1
Birkenhead United get a day off as Mangere United's appeal has yet to be heard.

June 26th

Chatham Cup runners up, Napier City Rovers, are dumped out of the Chatham Cup when Miramar beat them 4-3 in extra time

40 goals are scored in the 8 National Women's Knock Out Cup games, 9 time winners Lynn-Avon are hammered 9-0 by Three Kings United. 
Cashmere Technical beat FC Twenty11 7-0 and 
Upper Hutt City edge Palmerston North Marist 4-3

June 27th

Mainland Football appoint Football Fern Annlie Longo as their women's football development officer

June 28th 

A crowd of 3000 turn out in Masterton to see the Phoenix take on Paul Ifill's Wairarapa United in their first pre-season game. The result is 3-1 to the Phoenix with Ben Sigmund making a cameo appearance for Wairarapa United.

115 cap Football Fern, Katie Duncan, is facing her self-doubt and fear and raising money for the True Colours Children's Health Trust by shaving her head before heading to the Rio Olympics

The Oceania Champions League is being expanded. It will now have 20 teams, a preliminary round, 4 groups of 4 and then home and away semi-final's and final

June 29th

Manawatu stalwart and referee's champion, Rod Pelosi, is made a life member of New Zealand football

Rod Pelosi - NZF Life Membert (Photo : Stuff)

Monday, 25 July 2016

In the Wind & the Rain

Stop Out 1 Western Suburbs 3
Central League
Hutt Park
Saturday 23rd July 2016
Attendance about 50

I've been pretty lucky this season, with the exception of the Tawa v Wairarapa United Chatham Cup game  which had some hail and a couple of games at Wakefield Park which have been very cold (although when is it never cold there!) most of the games I've seen have been in reasonably pleasant weather. Surprising, especially for a Wellington winter. 

That was until Saturday, the day started out OK, but by 9am the dark clouds had settled in like an Italian team defending a 1-0 lead and wasn't going anywhere else. And to make it more fun the wind turned up to play as well. Now Wellington is known for it's wind, when I grew up one of the best  radio stations around was called Radio Windy (there weren't many). I've been places where people have commented on how windy it is and thought it was only a breeze, because by Wellington standards it was! Saturday's wind was getting up there, it was the sort of wind that at times you had to lean into otherwise it could easily have blown you over – so a strong wind even by Wellington standards.

My original intention had been to go and see a Capital Premier relegation battle between BNU & University at Wakefield Park, but as this didn't kick off until 3:30 I decided to take in the 1st half of the Central league clash between Stop Out & Western Suburbs.

I arrived at a windswept Hutt Park and quickly realised that it was to wet and dark to even bother trying to take any photos with my camera. So I headed over to the club rooms to pick up a program and was pleased to see 2 off my photo's in it. It was only a bit later that I twigged why the cover looked familiar – it was another of my photos!  (they had cropped the original, so that's my excuse for not noticing it strait off)
The match program - with my photo on the cover

Given the conditions there was a surprisingly hardy crowd of around 50 that were watching the game (while it was wet and windy, it wasn't that cold which probably helped). The 1st half wasn't a fantastic watch as both teams battled with the conditions, Western Suburbs did their usual of retaining the majority of possession but not actually doing anything with it. 

It was Stop Out, playing with the wind that opened the scoring when Andrew Abba fired in a shot from about 25 meters out. It was the sort of shot Stop Out should have been trying a lot more of especially with the wind behind them but it was only one of a couple and the score at half time was 1-0 to Stop Out.

The view of the game - Photo Mike Barton

By this stage I was pretty wet, had dug a couple of good footholds in the ground to stop being blown over, was enjoying some good banter on the sideline with fans Mike & Mike (not necessarily all about football) and figuring the conditions at Wakefield would be much the same I opted to stay for the second half. - So, sorry BNU, I will try and get there this season.

The 2nd half was much the same but Western Suburbs had 3 shots on goal (one of them was a penalty) and got 3 goals the best being a free kick from about 30 or so meters out which took a deflection of a Stop Out player and this gave them a 3-1 win.

The result brings Western Suburbs back into contention, when they seemed to be drifting away. They are now in 5th place but only 3 points of 2nd place. Wellington Olympic have opened up a 5 point gap after a 7-2 thrashing of Palmerston North Marist and Napier went down 2-1 at home to Miramar. So there are now 8 points separating the top 5 and 3 of those teams (Napier, Western Suburbs & Miramar having games in hand it still could go anyway.

At the other end of the table Petone who sacked coach Graham Little during the week managed their 1st win of the season beating Wairarapa United 3-1 and brings them within 3 points of Palmerston North Marist and those 2 teams still have to play each other twice

The Central League seems like the league to watch this season – whatever the weather is like!