Birkenhead United 3 Waitakere City 2
Chatham Cup Final
QBE Stadium, Auckland
Sunday 11th September 2016
Attendance 4216

The Chatham Cup Photo The JourneyFan

The 89th Chatham Cup Final took place on Sunday at QBE Stadium in Auckland between Cup final debutantes, Birkenhead United, and Waitakere City, three times winners who were making their 7th appearance in the final.

The game was preceded by the 23rd National Women's Knockout Cup Final, between Glenfield Rovers and Forrest Hill-Milford United. So all 4 cup finalists came from the Northern Football Federation. This, we were told in the program by NZF CEO, Andy Martin, “ a unique occurrence and one that has only taken place once before, in 2001.”

Now just to prove that it's not only the CEO of NZF that can make gaff's, I made an elementary one. Having not seen either club play before and unusually not having done my homework, I somehow managed to confuse the teams! Even when I thought it was odd that Glenfield Rovers were singing how high do you want the goal at their own player I never clicked until talking to someone at half time! 

So if you want to know what happened in that game check out reports from

I did get some photo's which are here

While Waitakere City had the cup pedigree of the 2 finalists, they could technically claim to be the underdogs as they had spent the season in Northern League Division 1 (which they won), while Birkenhead United still have a mathematical (but unlikely) chance of winning the Northern Premier Division. Saying that Waitakere City had managed to beat 2 Northern Premier teams in Glenfield Rovers (1-0) and Three Kings United (6-1) and Football South champions, Caversham (3-1) en route to the final.

Birkenhead United hadn't had an easy route to the final with only 1 game played at home, the semi final, a 3-1 win over another team that hadn't had any home games Wellington's Miramar Rangers. While Birkenhead United's away travel distance of 60km was dwarfed by Miramar's 2000km, all but one of their games (a 7-2 win over Fencibles) was against Northern Premier league opposition (Western Springs 2-0, East Coast Bays 5-3 & Forrest Hill-Milford United 3-0).

Both teams had players with experience with ex All White's in Waitakere City's goalkeeper Ross Nicholson and player-coach Jake Butler, while Birkenhead United had Jarrod Smith and current All White, Sam Burfoot.

Ex All White 40 year old Ross Nicholson (WC) Photo The JourneyFan

The game started with a flurry of Yellow cards, ref John Rowbury issued 3 in the first 4 minutes and it was up to 7 by half time. It seemed the game wouldn't finish with 22 players on the field. It didn't but it was a surprise that it wasn't until the 97th minute before Birkenhead United's Ryan Cain was sent off for a 2nd yellow card.

The teams were pretty even but it was Birkenhead United that went into the break 2-0 up thanks to 2 Jarrod Smith goals and that was a fair reflection as while Waitakere matched Birkenhead and despite the hard work of Dylan Manickum up front they were unable to create many chances, and when they did they found Damian Hirst on top form.

The 2nd half saw more of the same, yellow cards, half chances created, Birkenhead United looking the slightly better team. With about 10 minutes to go I started to think about heading round to the tunnel to get some photos of the crowd and the cup presentation. Just then Birkenhead broke and Dan Morgan managed a shot that beat Ross Nicholson but Waitakere City were saved by the post. That moment would have won the cup for Birkenhead had it gone in but what it did was seem to spark Waitakere City into life and within a minute some dogged persistence from the excellent Dylan Manickum mixed with a bit of panic in the Birkenhead United defence made the score 2-1. 

Waitakere City were on the up and then they got a penalty which Keegan Linderboom made no mistake in putting away. Waitakere City almost sealed a stunning win in the 91st minute but Hirst kept Adyn Kettle's shot out.

Linderboom scores from the spot Photo The JourneyFan
The first period of extra time was all Waitakere City. Birkenhead United's 21 year old keeper Daimian Hirst, tipped a shot over the bar, 5 minutes later he was beaten by Steven MacDonald but his shot found the post instead the back of the net. Birkenhead United looked relieved when the ref blew for half time.

Daimin Hirst tips the ball over the bar Photo The JourneyFan
Nicholson drops the ball

Then it was Birkenhead United's turn to attack and when a cross came in, Ross Nicholson had what looked like an easy catch, it may have been the presence of the huge Ethan Galbraith or his own defender, James Olausen that put him off, who or whatever it was he dropped the ball and Galbraith swiveled and shot to make it 3-2 and the 41st different name on the cup was Birkenhead United's.

The game had gone from being a reasonable one that looked as if it would end 2-0 to one of the all time classic finals, both teams and their supporters made it a fantastic day and a great advert for local football (big up to NZF for getting the games on to Sky TV)

Birkenhead United 3 (Jarrod Smith 2, Ethan Galbraith)  Waitakere City 2 (Dylan Manikum, Keggan Linderboom (PEN))

Congratulations to Birkenhead United – 2016 Chatham Cup Winners