Answer me this: how does a club that has won this country’s national league four years in a row – basically the Manchester United of our league – have virtually no fans?
That question has been bugging me since I was at Fred Taylor Park earlier in the season with WaiBOP United and the ASB Premiership semi-final, a ‘Super City Derby’ no less, had me asking it again. There were less than 200 there for the WaiBOP game and, despite the published numbers, there would have been barely twice that many for the semi-final. And most of them were wearing various shades of blue and white.
How can this be? Driving in it looked like there would be a bumper crowd. The car park was packed (with plenty of decent motors too, I must add). But as I made my way to the field it became acutely obvious that pretty much everyone there – men, women, children, dogs – must have each brought their own vehicle. Again… why? Hopefully someone can help answer what is becoming a conundrum for the ages.
As for the game, I’m guessing the visiting fans would have been pretty happy with how things turned out. I mean, a 4-0 away win in a two-leg semi-final is pretty much a guarantee of progress. As the score line suggests, Auckland were the better side, but Waitakere had their moments and Tamati Williams was called on several times to keep the sheets clean.
At the other end, I was fascinated to see Joao Moreira for the first time. On this showing I’m not quite sure what to make of him, so I’ll leave it to others who have watched him more regularly to determine his class or otherwise. What I did see, however, was confusing. He was instrumental in creating the first two goals for Emiliano Tade, through simple but cutting pieces of skill, but he spent large chunks of the time he was on effecting that annoying half jog/half walk shuffle that players use when they’re warming up. Although good in the air, he seemed to be used more as a play maker than target man and with good players around him so maybe he is what Auckland was missing during the early stages of the season. We’ll see, I guess.
The match itself was engaging if not compelling, especially for the neutral. Waitakere looked solid and organised but lacked the sort of class in the attacking third that their opponents so clearly have. Obviously that was the difference. Whether it was a four goal difference or not is a moot point, because the score is the score and that’s the only thing that matters when your season’s on the line.
It wasn’t gripping enough to keep me to the end, however, so I ducked off five minutes before the end (you know, to beat the rush) and, as it turned out, missed Auckland’s final two goals. Not that it really mattered, to be honest. The bendy drive back to Whangaparaoa, through Riverhead, Coatesville, and Dairy Flat more than made up for it.