Mid-week catch up

Brooklyn Northern United 1 North Wellington 3
Capital Premier
Wakefield Park
Wednesday 10th August, KO 7:30pm
Attendance about 40

At the beginning of the season I made the bold claim I was going to attempt to get to every Wellington club. I soon realised that there were more clubs than weeks and work also dictated which games I could get to, so I would need to change my aim to a couple of seasons. However one I thought I would get to was Brooklyn Northern United, not only because they were celebrating their centenary this season, (Incidentally there is a good write up of their centenary do here) but because I know a couple of people involved with the club, and it being one of the more social clubs in Wellington, it was one I've always liked.

But draws, work and the Central League being really exciting this season (oh and the fact they play at Wakefield) has meant I hadn't managed to get to BNU yet. So when I discovered they were playing North Wellington in a catch up game on Wednesday night I was up for it.

BNU & North Wellington are similar clubs. BNU were formed in 1972, however can trace their actual foundation back to 1916 via Institute Old Boys (who changed their name to Brooklyn United in 1956). Northern were a club set up by Chinese immigrants from the north of China, but by 1972 the club was better known for its large number of British ex-pats. The merger of the clubs formed Brooklyn Northern United.

North Wellington were also formed in 1972, but like BNU can trace their history back a bit further. They were a merger of Onslow, who were formed in 1934 and Johnson Villa, formed in 1954.

Both clubs have spent most of their time in the lower Central Leagues, occasionally getting to the top level, but not surviving long there. If you look at club honours BNU have won Central League Division 2 in 1978 and Capital Division 1 in 2002, while North Wellington have won Central League Division 2 in 1990 and Capital Division 1 in 2015!

Against each other it is North Wellington who have been dominant, winning 17 of 31 league and cup games played between the clubs at the top level since 1972, with BNU winning 8. BNU have only beaten North Wellington twice since 2003, the last time being 5 years ago in 2011.

This game could be a significant one for BNU, if they won it would put them clear of the bottom 3. The reason for the significance is that Petone have been relegated from the Central League and if Waterside-Karori fail to beat Team Taranaki in the playoff there will be 3 teams relegated from the Capital Premier League.

For North Wellington they were safe mid-table and playing catch up games after their Chatham Cup run which they equaled a club best of reaching the quarter finals, before getting hammered 6-1 by Three Kings United who are currently 2nd in the Northern League.

BNU & North Wellington ready to take the field

Before the game BNU coach Dene Bannister had his team out there and was encouraging them to look up for it and ready as North Wellington strolled out. Whether or not that worked is up for debate, but the first significant thing to happen in the game was after 17 minutes when BNU had a pretty reasonable penalty claim turned down, the ref instead giving a free kick to North Wellington for what he said was a BNU player pulling a shirt!

5 minutes later, North Wellington went 1-0 ahead with a controversial goal, Japanese striker Shohei Watanabe received a cross near the penalty spot and appeared to control the ball with his hand, while BNU shouted loudly for a handball, the ref and his assistant did nothing so Wantanabe turned and put the ball in the net to make it 1-0.

The rest of the half passed without much incident, North Wellington having more of the chances with Kieran Cripps uncharacteristically  missing a sitter in the 35th minute and Wantanabe almost getting a carbon copy of his first goal (without the hands) in the 41st minute.

For a team that needed the win more than their opposition BNU just didn't have it up front, they managed a couple of half chances but never really troubled the North Wellington Keeper. The 2nd half was much the same after 12 minutes BNU gave away a penalty which was easily converted by North Wellington Captain, Karl Romijn. 20 minutes later North Wellington effectively ended the game with a 3rd goal. But as often happens in these situations, the team on the losing end realises they are losing and steps up a gear and throws players forward, if only they had done that from the start!

It led to a entertaining last 13 minutes, in which a couple of over the top challenges went in and tempers between the teams started to flare. After one rash tackle North Wellington's number 12 was extremely lucky to stay on the pitch after he kicked out at a BNU player after the whistle had blown, receiving just a yellow card. The game was getting more physical and the "bantering" between players also stepped up a notch, which gave the fans a bit of a laugh and then BNU eventually got the ball over the North Wellington goal line but with only 1 minute left it was too little too late and they now need to beat Tawa on Saturday to ensure they avoid relegation, otherwise they will have to rely on other results going their way and/or Waterside-Karori to beat Team Taranaki in the Central League play off.