You’d be forgiven for thinking I’ve run out of blogging steam, such has been the lack of recent posts by The Matamata Bus. Truth be told, the Bus has been parked up for a while after the driver decided to spend some time with his family. It’s been a busy footballing year. Who’d have thought that after the moves I made at the start of the season.
Anyway, there’s nothing like a match with everything on the line to get me out on a nice early spring afternoon. Both sides needed to win to stand a chance of going up. And even if they did win there was still the red and green cloud of a Melville United side with a game in hand hovering overhead.
As it turns out, it wasn’t really a nice early-spring afternoon, at least until near the end, and it wasn’t much of a contest either. The final score line of 5-0 to Ngaruawahia was closer than this match actually was. Even though they led 3-0 at the break, it should really have been more. Federico Marquez had a neat double, which was complemented by a tidy Marcelo Sosa header, but both Kieren Frewin and Steve Morrison had also powered the ball over near open goals, while a couple of tight off side calls negated two more goals.
North Shore, who were clearly several players short, only had a long distance Jaryd Grey shot and a near post David Fahy header to show for their first half efforts. To be honest, it looked like the season had gone on several weeks too long for them. They looked hampered and played like the side I remember from last year’s Division 2, not a promotion challenger. That’s harsh, I guess, but I don’t think Shore have anything to be ashamed of. Once they get past the disappointment of this result, and what it meant, they’ll be able to reflect on a very good return to Division 1. To most people they have overachieved this season, and that’s a solid reflection of the effort put in by their coaching staff, players and club management.
This day, however, was all about Ngaruawahia. Their recent very good run of form has been rewarded with the ultimate prize – a spot in next year’s Premier League. After hearing Melville had been held 1-1 at Takapuna in the early kick-off, the formalities were then completed in the second half, thanks to a hat trick goal from Marquez and a strike by substitute Herve Kadiya. The celebrations began, accompanied, curiously, by fireworks, along with the expected dancing and singing, including a stirring rendition of the club song in the centre circle.
The sun had chosen the right moment to reappear, coming out with about ten minutes to go. It had been a horribly cold, wet and dingy afternoon to that point, particularly for the neutral spectator/correspondent. So it was nice to have the opportunity to dry out and reflect on what had been the best Narra performance I’d personally seen this season.
Heading to the ground I was thinking I might have been something of a jinx for them, because every time I’d watched them so far this season they’d been poor. The second half at Forrest Hill Milford (after they’d pantsed FHM in the first half); Takapuna away; Melville United away; Forrest Hill at home. So it was nice to see what they’re actually capable of and be given the opportunity to agree with some of the stuff other people had been writing about them.
Congratulations Ngaruawahia. Now the really hard work begins. I can only imagine that planning for a Premier League campaign will be bloody hard work for a small club. The last time they were up there (in the first half of the unique 2010 season) they barely won a game. Next year it will be even more cut-throat than back then as they enter a ten team league from which two clubs will be relegated. It will be tough, but there will be more motivation than ever to keep the run going.
To do so they’ll need to recruit wisely. Without question they will need to add players to their squad, while keeping everyone they already have, especially the likes of Marquez and John Irving. It will be important to bring in the sort of personalities that fit with the impressively tight and one of a kind culture they have out at Narra. If they can get the mix right I think they’ll survive and pick up their share of points in what looks to be probably the most open and even Premier League to date (yes, I know, things can change over the summer, especially on the Auckland player merry-go-round, so we’ll just have to wait and see about that).
But that’s all in the future. The best thing about gaining promotion is the night then the weeks afterwards where you just can’t stop smiling at yourself, especially at rather odd and sometimes inappropriate times. That’s a special feeling no matter what level of football you get to perform at. And, for now, it’s the right of everyone at Ngaruawahia United to enjoy that to the max.
Nice work Green Machine.