Chatham Cup Round 1
Crown Park, Taupo
Saturday 14th May 2016
Att about 110
So who would make a 800km round trip to watch a Chatham Cup game between
teams in the 4th and 6th tier of New Zealand football?
The thing with the Chatham Cup is that until the quarter finals the draw is regionally based, so while you get some good match ups like Wellington Olympic v Miramar Rangers in round 1, it's not quite as exciting when you know that the same two teams will be meeting each other in a league fixture a week later.
So when the idea of a road trip to Taupo to see the fixture between Taupo & Manukau City was raised, I was up for it. It was not just a new ground, club and new teams to see, but also a chance to meet and catch up with some of the few people that would be mad enough to answer yes to the above question! So as well as myself, there was Enzo from in the back of the net, and semi-pro photographers, Grant Stantiall from Hamilton and Dr Yomcat from Wellington (oh and their partners, who I doubt would say yes to the above question if they weren't with the named people!).
Taupo were formed in 1956 as Taupo United, changing their name to just Taupo AFC in 1969. With the exception of 4 seasons they spent from 1978 – 2001 in the lower reaches of the Northern League. Since 2002 they have played in the local Waikato – Bay of Plenty leagues and are currently sitting at the top of the WaiBop Championship (2nd division). Their best performance in the Chatham Cup came in 2001 when they reached the last 16 before losing 4-1 to Eastern Suburbs.
Manukau City were formed in 1964 as Massey Rovers, changing their name to better reflect their location in 1971. They had been an ever-present in the Northern League up until 2005, mainly in lower divisions but they did manage to finish runners up in the Premier division in 1989. Their best performance in the Chatham Cup came in 1987 when they got to the Semi-Finals, losing 5-0 to National League side, Christchurch United. They are currently 4th in the Northern League 2nd division.
While both clubs have spent many years in the Northern League, this is only the 6th meeting of the 2 clubs, the last one also coming in the Chatham Cup 15 years ago in 2001 when Taupo won 2-1.
The main connection of the clubs is the bosses, some saying it was almost a clash of All White royalty, with Manukau City having Kevin Fallon in charge and Taupo having Kale Herbert, son of Ricki, as their boss.
As for the game I had been given a big lens by Grant, so I looked like a proper photographer, and forgot to take my usual notes of when goals were scored and significant moments of the match. So here is a summary of what I remember!
While Manukau City had more of the possession and looked like a team a couple of divisions above Taupo. Taupo looked a useful side more than capable of causing an upset. It took Manukau City about 20 minutes to open the scoring through Andre Estay. But Taupo weren't making it easy for them, playing a very effective offside trap and frustrating Manukau. The half time score of 1-0 was fairly reflective of the game and in the 2nd half when Estay got his second it seemed as if Manukau had it sewn up. But with about 20 minutes to go Taupo scored and it looked as if we could get a good battle and it did get testy. Then a foul on Manukau's Ricky Esponiza, who despite been given the free kick decided to theatrically throw himself around, resulted in a free kick 10 meters inside the Taupo half, Andre Estay spotted Taupo keeper Korey Crake off his line and fired in a shot which found the back of the net, giving him his hat-trick and Manukau City a 3-1 win.
It was a very enjoyable day and well worth the 800km round trip – bring on the next one