The thing about football at NRFL division 2 level is that you’re never really likely to watch a team with eleven footballers on the field. You’ll get bits and pieces of quality, and a handful of gems, but little more.
Sure, the players are competitive. Most of them can run around with purpose. And tackle. And head the ball. But rare is the occasion you’ll find a side full of players who actually know what they’re doing.
That’s harsh, I know. But remember I spent years operating at this level and below so I kind of know what I’m on about. Often, though, it doesn’t matter as you can still rock up and see a decent match. Unfortunately this wasn’t one of those occasions.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my afternoon out. I did. Warkworth is a nice village and I can think of far worse places to spend an afternoon. The football wasn’t flash, but it was competitive and combative and I’ve seen worse.
Shoesmith Reserve is a bit exposed – really it’s just a massive field with a couple of football pitches marked out on it. That doesn’t help with the atmosphere but that’s not what we came here for now is it? The grass could have done with a decent cut. It looked like the match was being played in quicksand for much of the time. That probably helped the home side more so well done them.
I was interested in seeing how the much vaunted Waiuku front three of Sinclair, Abbott and Ralph would go. On paper they promise goals. But on quicksand they only produced frustration. Sinclair did, at least, score the opener (dirty scuff), but Abbott was almost anonymous. His body language was shocking. Ralph was, for me, the most consistent player on show, for either side.
Waiuku should have won this and would have turned up expecting to. Warkworth went about their business as I remember them from previous years and that was enough to not only gain a point but almost sneak a win. Their equaliser was messy (you can’t defend like that Waiuku) and they hit the cross bar in the second half when it really would have been easier to score. So I guess a point was about right.
Some late drama saw the Waiuku left back shown a red card for an off the ball incident. I was told it was a good old head butt but I didn’t see it as I was down the other end of the field. The incident saw the ref trotting all over the place – doing doggies from one lino to the other and back again. It rarked up the home fans too.
So that was my division 2 opener. A couple of mid-table sides scuffing it out in rural New Zealand. It wasn’t close to the intensity of what I watched yesterday but it was grassroots football at its most endearing. Hopefully next time, though, it ends 4-3.