Napier, I hate you.
I love you. But I really fucking hate you too.
Specifically, I hate leaving you.
It seems that every time I’m heading up into the hills and gorges between you and Taupo it’s with a horrible sense of regret.
You see, my club are regular participants in Napier City Rover’s U-19 Youth Tournament. It’s a great event, played at Labour Weekend, and is an excellent way to end a long football season.
But you know that.
We’ve taken part in the satellite part of the tournament for six consecutive years now, and once more a few years before that, and have always headed south with great hope and, often, justifiable expectation.
We’ve always underachieved. Or been unlucky. Or (whisper) just not been good enough.
We’ve never been able to make it out of our group and, some years, that’s really sucked.
Like this year.
For the first time two teams from each satellite group would make the knock-out stages. Sure, Onehunga Sports/Wellington Phoenix, who were always going to win it, were in our group, but then so were several other teams we felt totally comfortable against.
Then we went ahead and drew all our games on day one. We led in all three games (and twice in one of them) but coughed up some silly goals to drop points. Our first game on day two was against Sports. So our tournament was over.
And, yet again, our talk turned to regret and what should have been.
I’ve taken my family to Napier over Labour Weekend several times over the years. It’s a great excuse to head to a town I really like, support the Swifts, as well as have a break. Yes Napier, I do like you. I think you and probably Nelson are the two places in New Zealand I wouldn’t mind spending a lot more time at, maybe even moving to permanently.
You’re big enough to think you’re a city, but you’re not really. You have the weather, the beach, the vineyards, the outdoors and, of course, Park Island.
Over the years we’ve stayed in a couple of nice motels, rented a house and, this year, taken our Camper out for its first proper road trip. It was a fun weekend, football excepted (and the mini-golf. Jean beat me by a shot. My powers must be waning…). The kids enjoyed themselves at the Affordable Westshore Holiday Park, which had everything we needed. Bluff Hill was spectacular, as always. The beach was bleak and moody, just the way it should be during mid-Spring.
But there’s that horribly nagging regret from the football.
I’ll be back. Maybe even to watch the Swifts. Perhaps next time I shouldn’t bother leaving you…