Is it a team or is it a club?

The Venus Shield - first awarded in 1896
Wellington United 2 Waterside-Karori 1
Capital Premier Division
Petone Memorial
Saturday 22nd August 2015
Att about 200-250

The Scenic Petone Memorial Ground

Maybe taking their lead from NZ Football or just keen to provide another example of the unique world of NZ football administration, Capital Football excelled themselves here. Firstly they postponed a whole round of games from last week, this was to allow Waterside and Kapiti Coast United to play a catch up game so that would mean today's game would be the title decider and the winner would take home one of NZ's oldest trophies, the Venus Shield.

But it seems that someone at Capital Football had overlooked the fact that Wellington Phoenix were playing New Zealand A in New Plymouth on Sunday, now this usually wouldn't be an issue, but as the Wellington United first team is actually the Wellington Phoenix Academy team and many of the players would be involved in the Sunday game it was an issue. So to resolve this some bright spark scheduled the game for a 10:30am kick off. This was where Waterside had to point out their players weren't actually professional and some needed to work on Saturday mornings, so the time was changed to 1pm. It was also to be played at Petone Memorial, 19kms away from Wellington United's home ground of Newtown Park. Why? Who knows but you can't help suspecting that it may have been something to do with the fact Petone has a artificial turf and this suits the kids of Phoenix-United better than the grass of Newtown Park.

Both clubs have a rich pedigree being able to trace their origins back to the 1890's, Waterside-Karori through Swifts who were founded in 1894 and changed their name to Karori Swifts in 1968 to identify with the suburb in which they were based. Waterside were formed in 1921 by workers at the Port of Wellington. In 1987 the 2 clubs came together and became know as Waterside-Karori. Between their clubs they have won the Venus Shield 17 times

Wellington United can trace their history back to 1893 when members of the Star Rugby Club decided that they would rather play the Association game and formed Diamonds. In 1968 they merged with Wellington United, a club set up in 1954 under the name Zealandia by dutch immigrants. The new club Wellington Diamond United went on to win the National League 3 times (1976, 81 & 85) before merging with Wellington City in 1986. Wellington City had been formed as a composite team for National League by Hungaria and Miramar Rangers. Miramar withdrew after 1 season and Wellington City continued on, eventually absorbing parent club Hungaria into its ranks in 1979, so with all those permutations the club these days called Wellington United probably couldn't have a more apt name. Between their clubs Wellington United have 13 Venus Shield's.

With all this history, its rather disappointing that Wellington United seem to have sold out their first team. I don't know the ins and outs off the deal and it may be good for the club they obviously think so or they wouldn't have done the deal, but apart from the orange tops you wouldn't know that its Wellington United. The coaches are all dressed in Phoenix gear, the Phoenix themselves described the win on Facebook as “...Wellington Phoenix youngsters, playing under the Wellington United banner”. To me it feel's as though there is a lack of respect for the history of Wellington United with the Phoenix just seeing it as a vehicle to give their young players game time.

Wellington United build from the back with the Venus Shield pretty much on the (Center) line!

Given I have got this far and have yet to mention the actual game, will give you an idea that the game itself wasn't really up to much. Waterside had the edge going into the game and required a win or a draw to secure the title and while they looked slightly better they didn't create many chances with both keepers not having a lot to do, but it was Wellington United who emerged victorious with 2 2nd half goals in 10 minutes from Cherbal Khouchaba before Waterside got one back through Putt.

While this had a feeling of a cup final you need to remember that it was just a league fixture and over the course of the season, Wellington United deserved their win, having lost only 1 game all season (4-3 to Miramar - it would have to be to them!), they scored 80 goals, averaging 4 per game and had some big wins such as 12-0 over Petone, 8-0 over BNU and 7-0 over Wellington Olympic.And all this with a team that has an average age of 16.5

Their reward as well as the Venus Shield is a playoff with the Central Federation winners Team Taranaki (another odd team \ club situation where it is effectively a rep team, with players registered with local clubs). The winner gaining promotion to next seasons Central League


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