Island Time

Waiheke United 5 Norwest United 1
AFF / NFF Conference
Onetangi Sports Park, Waiheke Island
Saturday 10th September
Attendance : 120 or so

The Curva del Waiheke Photo : The JourneyFan
What follows may be described as a tale you won't believe, it involves ferry's, buses, angry chickens, early kick offs, drum beating fans, hitchhiking, the police, dodgy builders and chili calamari! (oh and a little bit – a very little bit of football!)

Having decided to head to Auckland for Chatham Cup final, it dawned on me that the games would be on the Sunday and there was the possibility of taking in some football on the Saturday. So I contacted Enzo from In the back of the net. He was keen on heading to Whangarei to watch some crazy Italians but had also been invited to Cambridge to watch a crazy ex All White's (Mike Groom) team in their cup final. I had it suggested to me that I should take in the star studded Central United over 35's team which includes the likes of Ivan Vicelich in their ranks, but in the end it was the crazy ultra fans of Waiheke United that won the day.

I had heard about the Waiheke United ultras from an article Enzo had written and also a piece in the mainstream media . They have several nationalities playing at the club, the predominant one being Argentinian. With this they bring a passionate and noisy support with flags, banners and drums. Not bad for a club which plays at about the 5th tier of NZ Football.

I met Enzo at the Waiheke Island ferry terminal and discovered we were to be joined by Yellow Fever stalwart, KiwiBardy. So on a gloriously sunny day we boarded the ferry to the picturesque island of Waiheke. An Orca decided to accompany the ferry but by the time we got our cameras out it was off. Then it was on to the bus and a 45 minute tiki tour around the Island, why is it football grounds always seem to be at the end of bus routes?

The angry birds Photo Kiwibardy
We alighted from the bus at the entrance to Onetangi Sports Park and were confronted by a mass of angry birds, well a hell of a lot of chickens, and rather than run away as chickens usually do these ones came towards us looking for food, or maybe they thought Kiwibardy was trying to communicate with them as he tweeted on his phone!

A 10 minute walk later we heard the drums and a comment they must be warming up sounded plausible until we turned the corner and saw the game was underway. I asked a spectator what the score was and was told 4-0 to Waiheke, and that the game was 10 minutes into the second half.

We soon discovered that despite the coming from a country where football is number one, even the Argentinians had succumbed to the traditional Kiwi way of life and had got the game moved to an early kick off so they could get to the rugby in Hamilton later that night (I suppose it was Argentina that were playing)

Still we got to see a bit of football and two more goals as the game ended 5-1 to Waiheke. The Ultras lived up to their reputation and was worth the visit alone. It was also great to see the team join in the singing and dancing after the final whistle.
Waiheke's Alejo Villasana attempting to fly Photo The JourneyFan
Waiheke United players joining the fans after the game Photo : The JourneyFan
With there being no bar at the ground we decided we should start walking back towards the bus stop. KiwiBardy suggested that we should try hitchhiking and stuck out his thumb, almost immediately a car stopped, I am using the term car in the loosest possible terms here, it was a pretty small two door hatchback with no back seats!

Now, none of us are really known as small guys, I'm 6”1 , Enzo is a couple of inches taller than me, while Kiwibardy may be slightly shorter he is not someone who could be described as small either. Our potential driver seemed to think our size and his lack of a back seat would be no problem and told us to jump in. So we did, Enzo took the front, while me & Kiwibardy clambered on to the myriad of builders tools that were in the place of the back seat (this also led to our collective imagination being engaged for a tenth of a second and coming up with the name of Bob the Builder for our driver). Surprisingly we managed to get in reasonably easy, I went to close the hatch but Bob the builder had decided to drive off by then so rather than risk falling out the back of the car I left it.

"Bob The Builder"
Bob liked to talk and after a big up of the Waiheke United fans (he was a rugby bloke but goes because the crowd was brilliant), a short synopsis of his life and how he ended up on Waiheke, he launched into a rant about cowboy builders and the NZ building code, it was such a good rant that when Kiwibardy finally managed to get a word in, and it was a word agreeing with Bob, Bob was having none of it and shot KiwiBardy's argument down!!!

So there we were, three big blokes and Bob the Builder cruising along in a Tardis like hatchback, with the hatch up and the inevitable happened..........a police car went past us the other way, he obviously clocked us and started slowing down to turn around. I said to Bob that he may want to pull over before the cop did, Bob agreed this was a good idea not least because he stated that there was a good chance he was over the drink drive limit!

Bob's cunning plan, which was worthy of Blackadders Baldrick, was to jump out the car and go to the Pizza shop, this was thwarted by the Pizza shop being closed! Bob didn't have a plan B and by now the policeman had pulled up and was checking out the car. Again we engaged our collective imagination and came up with the name of Policeman Pat for the cop.

I'm not sure what it was maybe it was the Policeman Pat's seeming amazement that us 3 big blokes had managed to fit into the Tardis hatchback, maybe he bought my sob story about coming all the way from Wellington to see Waiheke United play only for the game to be moved to an earlier time (unlikely), but most likely he was enjoying spending a beautiful day on Waiheke Island covering for his Island based colleagues which had got him away from a Friday night Queen Street patrol and was struggling to believe what he had come across.

In the Tardis Car Photo KiwiBardy
Policeman Pat turned out to be a nice bloke who let us off with a telling off. Now most people would take a cop letting you off as a cue to thank him and get away from there (especially if there is a chance that you could be over the drink drive limit) but Bob the Builder liked to talk and came out with the immortal line “I was assaulted last night” and proceeded to show Policeman Pat his black eye.

We started to shuffle away and towards the bus stop, when Policeman Pat, probably wanting to get away from Bob the Builder, asked where we were going and offered us a lift. So it was away from the Tardis Hatchback into a 4 wheel drive Police car, and lots of dirty looks from people trying to work out what we had done wrong.

On arriving in Oneroa, I took us up to a cafe\bar that I knew had Waiheke United FC scarfs and pennants on the wall, only to find that it was closed (they apparently close at 12 on a Saturday!). Deciding the Polo club type place was probably a bit too posh for us we found a bar with a great view only to discover it was closing! Luckily they directed us to a bar downstairs from them and we finally got a well earned beer and a snack of Chilli Calamari, which Enzo proceeded to adorn his pristine white shirt with.

As we headed off to the ferry, we agreed it had been some day. But it wasn't quite over as we got closer to the ferry so did the departure time so we had to run the last 500 meters, which I was impressed I managed! And we got on to the gangplank only to be told the ferry was full and we couldn't get on!

It was a somewhat fitting end to what had been an adventurous day and I think if I did it again, I'd like to get the kick off time right and see more of the football next time!

Waiheke Island ferry leaving without us Photo KiwiBardy


Footnote : Congratulations to Waiheke United, who this weekend won the Conference and with it promotion to Northern League Division 2.


  1. Thank you very much from La banda del pipazo!!! I hope next time you can watch the hole game!!! Please like the facebook page Waiheke United AFC


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