I covered a few miles yesterday and didn’t always get to where I wanted to go when I wanted to get there. But it all worked out okay in the end.
After finishing up with my mini-kickers group in the morning it was time to hop in the Matamata Bus and head to Auckland. Whangaparaoa, actually. After a quick stop to unload the family, clothes, bikes and dog I shot back down the motorway, knowing I was going to miss the kick-off at my first stop of the day – Shepherds Park. This wasn’t helped by a traffic light induced delay at the Tristram Road off ramp.
Parking at Shepherds Park was a bit of an issue, too, mainly because I’m not really familiar with the area. So when I discovered the main car park was chocker, I ended up parking up on Beach Haven Road. This then necessitated a brisk walk via a playground, past a game involving Ajax Amsterdam and onwards to the Birko bank, overlooking their main field.
There was a decent crowd in, as you’d expect for a team that’s playing good football and topping the league. Thankfully (for me) no-one had troubled the scorers by the time I got there. Birkenhead had the best of the remainder of the first half, creating a couple of decent chances, but Onehunga Sports, their opponents for the day, had the ball in the net just before the break, only to see the off-side flag raised. Given the ‘goal’ was a header that came from a deep free kick, that was either incredibly lazy work from the Sports player or a dodgy decision.
Either way, that was probably the game, as Birko went ahead less than 60 seconds into the second half when Roussin Nkoy sped past a static Sports defence and slipped the ball past the stranded keeper. Nkoy doubled the lead soon after with a similarly shaped goal before Dan Morgan pushed the lead out to three. Game over, which was obvious from the flurry of activity on the Birko bench to get a couple of subs on without delay.
My next port of call for the day was Western Springs’ Seddon Fields. Given that game was scheduled for a 5pm kick-off I ducked away from Birko early and missed their fourth goal. But the drive was worth it as my NavMan took me through a part of Auckland I wasn’t really familiar with and had me parked up and walking in just as the match against Warkworth kicked off.
Seddon Fields is a very different looking venue to the last time I was there (Anzac Day 2012 with Matamata). It’s now one of the increasing number of Tiger Turf pitches that are popping up all over Auckland, with the main filed tucked in front of the clubrooms, two five-a-side pitches running parallel and another full size pitch running parallel with Meola Road.
If I’m honest, I was only there for a quick check out of the venue and to add another One Minute At… movie to my collection. During the 25 minutes of football I saw Springs control the ball for long periods and Warkworth defend strongly and counter well. I didn’t see a goal (Springs ended up winning 3-1) but as I was cutting a track I did see a penalty awarded, which was subsequently scooped over the top. That was followed by a lovely jig from the Warkworth keeper.
The drizzle had begun by the time I returned to my car, determined to have a leisurely drive across to Michaels Ave for Ellerslie versus Waitakere City, a fixture the locals were already well sick of. This was a critical, six point, bottom four fixture that both teams would have been desperate to win. It showed as it wasn’t one for the neutrals.
Jake Butler put the visitors ahead with an early free kick and Rory Turner doubled the lead in the second half. A late Will Roper free kick got one back for Ellerslie and they nearly had an unlikely equaliser when Waitakere’s keeper made a very good save to keep out another free kick with seconds remaining. Even the Ellerslie management agreed an equaliser would have been undeserved, but they’d definitely have taken it. With the drizzle and the un-Ellerslie like atmosphere this was a rather grim way to end the day’s triple header.
The final whistle was followed by some serious hanging around as I morphed into one of my day job selves and waited for a potential WaiBOP United signing to turn up for a chat. That was interesting but may turn out to have been a fruitless exercise. Time will tell, however.
After that it was late and I still had to get in the Bus and head back up to Whangaparaoa. Long day, but I had what I’d come for.