Wainuiomata 2 Naenae 0
Capital 1/2 playoff  
Petone Memorial
September 3rd 2016
Attendance : 200 approx

The season is coming to an end so there is less and less football to watch (there was actually none last weekend, hence no blog). Saturday had the annual Phoenix preseason game at Kapiti Coast United against a Central League XI. With quite a strong Central League side named this looked like it could be a good game to watch. But that would be too easy and when I spied that two smaller Hutt Valley clubs were playing each other in a playoff to see who would be in next year's Capital Division 1, that's where I decided to go (oh and Petone was easier to get to for me than Kapiti!).

Naenae had finished 2nd bottom in Capital 1, while Wainuiomata had finished 3rd in Capital 2. As Waterside-Karori Cougars had finished 2nd and couldn't be promoted due to their already being a Waterside-Karori team in Capital 1, Wainuiomata were given the chance at promotion via today's playoff.

The two clubs, besides being based in suburbs of Lower Hutt, are not dissimilar in size and history. Naenae were formed in 1948 and were a founding member of the Central League (Div 2) in 1968 and while they spent most of their years in Central League around Division 3 & 3 South they did get up to the top division a couple of times. 

Wainuiomata were founded in 1959 were also a founding member of the Central League (Div 1) and spent most of their time in Division 2 or 3 but did get to the top division a couple of times.

This was the 45th meeting of the clubs 1st teams, of the 40 known results Naenae held the edge with 19 wins to Wainuiomata's 14, while 7 have been draws. Naenae's record win against all clubs and Wainuiomata's record loss is a 1970 Chatham Cup game which Naenae won 11-0.

Wainuiomata fans take over Petone's club rooms Photo The JourneyFan

I'm used to getting strange looks when I tell people what games I'm going to see, however that's usually from non football people, but when I mentioned this one even football were looking at me oddly! I had seen Naenae play already this season when they lost to Marist and there were about 20 people watching, given the Phoenix were playing elsewhere I was expecting the crowd to not me a lot more than that. So I was well surprised when I turned up and it seemed that half of Wainuiomata had come over the hill for the game (well OK not that many, but still a couple of hundred).

There are no programs published at this level and I didn't arrive early enough to take a pic of the team sheet from the ref. I was told however Wainuiomata were making full use of their youth policy, as their regular keeper had been injured, and in goal was Ralph Chenery who has made over 400 appearances for Wainuiomata!

Wainui's Ralph Chenery - over 400 appearances PHOTO : The JourneyFan

At this level, unless you have been watching a team all season, you never really know what you are going to get, the skill level obviously won't be as high as Central League but then that's the beauty of the game you can always get the unexpected.

As it was the teams in the first half appeared evenly matched, although Wainuiomata did have more attempts on goal, while Naenae struggled with this which helps explain their total of 19 scored for the season. As the game went on there were a few “tasty” challenges from both sides and the referee dished out a few yellow cards, he did well keeping a control on the game, especially with a loud vocal crowd which was dominated by Wainui fans.

Photo : The JourneyFan

Wainuiomata's coach is Graham Watson who has been around the Wellington football scene for years, I remember him as coach of Lower Hutt City when they played in the National League in the late 90's. They didn't have a great season, finishing 2nd bottom and sometimes the football was dire, but you always knew you'd get some entertainment just from watching Graham Watson on the sideline. He seems to have mellowed a bit and it looked as if Naenae's coach had given his players more of a rev up at half time as they came out looking the better team for about 20 minutes.

But then the turning point, Wainuiomata played a through ball and the striker found himself onside and with the Naenae keeper almost in front of him, the fact the Naenae keeper was half way up the pitch allowed the striker to knock the ball past him and then follow the ball as he shepherded it into an empty net.

Wainuiomata make it 1-0 Photo : The JourneyFan

This prompted wild celebrations from the Wainui fans and they broke into their club song (their version of It's a grand old team to play for) just as they finished it, the player who had played the through ball picked it up on the left wing cut inside and fired a shot across the goal and it was 2-0 to Wainuiomata.

1 minute later and it's 2-0 Wainui Photo : The JourneyFan

From then on it was all Wainuiomata, they were getting to the ball first, when they lost it they were chasing it down and winning it back. Naenae were still competing but Wainuiomata simply wanted it more and it showed. Watson had barked out instructions to his players to play towards the corners as that was where they were beating them and they did that. They didn't add to the scoring but 2-0 was enough to secure themselves a place in Capital 1 for next season.

How they will do, who knows but if they can get a crowd each week that was half as big and boisterous as the one that was at this game, they will make for a great day out.

Wainuiomata Promoted to Capital 1 Photo The JourneyFan

For more photos from the game click here