Sometimes, even if you’re quite heavily involved with a team, it’s nice to be able to sit back and analyse a game of football as objectively as you can and appreciate it for what it was – a decent game of football.
As annoying as WaiBOP United’s 3-2 loss at Hawke’s Bay United was I thought it had pretty much everything you could hope for in a match of ASB Premiership standard – goals (and some pretty good ones at that), saves, dominance, a stirring comeback – well worth the three and a half hour trip to Napier.
I like Napier. Despite the fact is seems miles from anywhere, particularly for us born and bred Waikatoites, I’ve always felt the town has a positive vibe. There and Nelson are probably the two places in NZ I’d most consider moving too if the stars aligned and the price was right. Napier always seems so fresh, usually from the gale that pounds in off the Pacific, and bright.
I kinda like their team too. The facility at Park Island is great, perfect for a New Zealand football club, and the franchise appears very well run. The main reason Hawke’s Bay United is my second team is simple, though. They play in Matamata Swifts colours. You just can’t go wrong with that.
We’ve had our troubles at WaiBOP United this season and I won’t shy away from saying I feared the worst when Hawke’s Bay took a 3-0 lead inside the first half hour in this match. We looked like the inexperienced side we were. The Bay looked sharp and lethal in front of goal. But then the game changed. Slowly but surely we got back into it.
Macca’s goal before the break was a special way for the ex-Swift to get on the board at the top level and he almost had another before the break with a cheeky lob. Another ex-Matamata player, Scott Hilliar, also went close. We pretty much killed them after the break but only got one goal back, despite the chances and due mainly to some top drawer keeping.
Now, I dunno, but it seemed somehow easy to take the result, in spite feeling that we should really have won. The setting, the afternoon, the ebb and flow just made it feel like an evening well spent. Maybe my competitive edge has receded after some of the previous results making another loss slightly easier to stomach.
It’s turned out being a tough season for us at WaiBOP United after a promising start. In some ways, of course, we as a Federation haven’t helped ourselves. Obviously I can’t go into any of that in such a public forum, but I just hope we allow ourselves to fix what are pretty obvious issues so the team enters next season in the best shape possible.
I will say that, given the restrictions, Pete has done well with the side and most of the players have performed well. We made the right call in moving our home venue to Cambridge, mainly because of the fantastic efforts of the club’s volunteers. Early on I was nervous about using Beetham Park and I’m convinced now it would have been a disaster. Hopefully the ground improvements at John Kerkhof Park go well over the winter meaning next summer we’ll have a great little venue. I also reckon some of the media stuff is going okay, but then I would say that.
It’s not perfect, of course, and I don’t think anyone expected it would be. We’re in the process of learning by doing which is important for an organisation that contains few people who have been involved in running a football club. If the, quite fundamental and obvious, lessons are learnt and, most importantly, acted on then WaiBOP United will be better where it really counts, on the field, in years to come.
In the meantime, a few more matches like Saturday would go down well, with a few results thrown in to keep everyone’s spirits up.