Derby Day

Cool poster for the game pinched from Team Wellington Faebook page
National Youth League
Team Wellington 5 Wellington Phoenix 0
Wednesday 9th December 2015

It's derby day, and its a Wellington Derby in the National League, and its at Newtown Park, and while the teams are called Team Wellington & Wellington Phoenix, everybody knows Team Wellington are effectively Miramar Rangers and Wellington Phoenix youth team are closely linked to Wellington United! 

So its almost an old school Wellington Derby except in the youth league!

Anyway as you may have guessed I am a bit excited about this, I'm not sure why derbies have a habit of going wrong. For example in 1986 I was going to watch the Champion Wellington United team and raving about it to my mates at school, I wouldn't really shut up about it and after Wellington United hammered North Shore 8-0 I managed to convince some of them to go to the next game, they either did this to shut me up but I think the fact Ray Johns had got ZMFM in behind it for promotion probably helped more! Anyway the next game was a derby against Miramar, and there I was telling my mates how good United were and Miramar were a joke of a team and shouldn't even be in the league and Miramar went and won 5-2!

But its still a derby and that fact can make even the dullest most turgid of games seem great when your team wins.

Newtown Park Stand - Still as cold as it ever was
It's also at Newtown Park, which probably wouldn't excite many but it is the ground I grew up watching football at. I have seen countless games there (and I have tried to count them all!) I have seen National League, Central League, a Chatham Cup Final, Internationals and even played on the ground a couple of times myself. I watched the champion WDU team there, I saw Miramar lose the league there, I saw the first ever men's international refereed by a woman (NZ v Denmark U23), I saw Wellington United keeper, Don Finlayson, get booked after an incident that occurred about 75 meters away from him! (He was booked for dissent), I endured the Wellington United cheerleaders, waved at the fans in the BNU stand (they stood on the bank outside the ground so they didn't have to pay $10), I know that no matter how hot the day is that you need to take at least one warm top as the stand is always cold! I could go on and on but basically what I am saying is its my home ground and I love it.

So its there I headed for this midweek derby in the National Youth League. 
The league is incredibly close this season with only 5 points separating the top 7 teams. Team Wellington who led for a lot of the season have slipped up in the last couple of weeks losing 3-1 to Nelson then 7-0 to Auckland City. I saw Wellington Phoenix at the start of the season when they beat Hawke's Bay United 6-1 and thought they would be contenders, but in hindsight that game probably showed how bad Hawke's Bay United are. The Phoenix haven't managed to keep up that promise from the first game, and have only one 1 other game (3-0 v Manawatu United).

The view from the stand
The big difference is age and size, the Phoenix kids are really just kids with it being more of an U17 team, while Team Wellington are an U20 team and it showed with the Phoenix regularly muscled of the ball. While possession was reasonably even, the 1st half was played in the Phoenix's half. Team Wellington made good use of the territorial advantage, albeit with the assistance of the Phoenix, the Phoenix keeper had made some odd positioning choices and Finn Moore took advantage of this with a speculative lob from about a yard in from the touchline and 40 meters out which ended with the keeper and the ball in the back of the net. The 3rd goal of the game was an outstanding diving header by the Phoenix, a truly quality goal, just a shame it went into their own net rather than the other end!

In the 2nd half the Phoenix did have a few chances but Team Wellington defended well and the Phoenix forwards were just not quick enough and seemed to take the wrong option when they had a chance. Team Wellington added 2 more goals, with Finn Moore completing a hat-trick with including a lovely volley from about 25 meters out, to win 5-0 and send them back to the top of the league.

So the derby was won by Team Wellington over Wellington Phoenix (you know I'd be saying Wellington United beat Miramar if the result had been reversed!) and the Youth league is still to close to call. It was a decent match and an enjoyable evening out on a beautiful sunny Wellington day, and yes the stand at Newtown Park was still cold!