Team Wellington 1 Auckland City 3
Stirling Sports Premiership \ Charity Cup
Dave Farrington Park, Wellington
Sunday 8th January 2017 
Att : 200 or so

Auckland City's Angel Berlanga with the Charity Cup The JourneyFan
The Charity Cup started life in 1978 as the Challenge Trophy. Played to signal the start of a new season, it was contested between the League Champions and the Chatham Cup Winners. Mt Wellington won it three times, Wellington United and Manurewa twice, while Gisborne City and North Shore United had one win apiece before it was discontinued in 1988. The NZ Soccer Annual of 1988 said "......(the Challenge Trophy) continues to fail to grasp the imagination of the soccer public"

There was also the odd aside of the confusingly named NZFA Challenge Trophy. In 1987 the NZFA proposed plans to change the Chatham Cup format from a knockout competition to a challenge format not dissimilar to rugby's Ranfurly Shield. Thankfully the proposal was voted down (almost unanimously) at the NZFA AGM. However the powers that be in the NZFA felt committed to the idea so they substituted the Chatham Cup with a new trophy which they came up with the unimaginative name of the NZFA Challenge Trophy.

North Shore United, as the Chatham Cup holders were given the trophy and each home game they played was a defence. If they won or drew they retained the trophy, if they lost then it was the challengers who would defend the next time they played at home. The winner of each match would also receive $1000, there would be a sponsor for the tournament, North Shore United as holders would also play challenge games against the 1986 winners of the regional leagues and the NZFA would ensure there was the necessary publicity to generate significant interest in the games.

The sponsorship, regional games and promised publicity didn't eventuate. North Shore United defended the trophy 5 times before Wellington United (twice), Manawatu United and Christchurch United held it and the NZFA were out of pocket by $9000. The NZ Soccer Annual said "One suspects that the NZFA would be happy for their brainchild to slip quickly into obscurity"
Team Wellington's Niko Kirwan beats ACFC's Harry Edge for a header The JourneyFan
In 2010 when NZF (as the NZFA were now known) secured sponsorship from ASB Bank. They reintroduced the original Challenge Trophy, but called it the Charity Cup and the contestants were to be the League Champions and the best placed New Zealand team in the Oceania Champions League (or 2nd best if the best placed were the league champions)
This year it wasn't played pre-season as usual, scheduling issues with the Club World Cup and the earlier start of the Oceania Champions League been given as reasons. So instead it was doubled up with today's #SSPremiership game.

Like the original Challenge Trophy it has been a competition that has failed to grasp the imagination of the football public. After all today's game was between last season's finalists, who were also currently 1st (Team Wellington) and 2nd (Auckland City) in the league. Team Wellington's coach, Jose Figuera, was Auckland City's youth team coach last season. Ex Auckland City players, Nicholas Zambrano and new signing Nathaniel Haliemarian were in the Team Wellington squad. While Auckland City's Emilano Tade started his kiwi career at Team Wellington. It was not a game that needed the addition of an unloved cup to appeal to the masses (well OK the 200 that turned up).

As it was Team Wellington took the charity bit of the cup name to heart and were very charitable gifting the first goal to Auckland City when captain Bill Robertson hit a wayward back pass that eluded keeper Scott Basalaj and rebounded off the post into the path of Ryan De Vries for a simple tap in.

Ryan De Vries makes it 1-0 to Auckland City The JourneyFan
Four minutes later it looked as if we could have a game on our hands when Auckland City's Fabrizo Tavano, stopped Team Wellington's Andy Bevin from shooting by pulling his shirt and earning himself a red card. But all that happened was that Auckland City reverted to one up front and relied on their miserly defence, which had only conceded two goals in nine games so far this season, and the counter attacking speed of Ryan De Vries and Micah Lea'Alafa.

Team Wellington, who were badly missing Tom Jackson and Ben Harris up front, had more of the ball and territorial possession but were unable to break down Auckland City's solid defence and keeper Enaut Zubikarai was rarely troubled.

Auckland City were missing Joao Moriera, Daewoo Kim, Takuya Iwata & Clayton Lewis for various reasons but it never showed as they put in a very professional, if unspectacular, performance. They soaked up the Team Wellington pressure and relied on the counter attack, which paid off for them in the 67th minute when Tade made it 2-0.

Shortly after this Team Wellington introduced Ben Harris to the game and in his short time on the field he shouted at Haleimarian (amongst others) a lot, talked himself into a yellow card (and was almost a red), and scored a goal to bring the score back to 2-1 with a couple of minutes left. It was a significant contribution and one that left you questioning why Team Wellington didn't bring him on earlier. But it was Auckland City's day and from the restart they launched an attack which resulted in Darren White being fouled in the penalty area and Tade had no problem converting from the spot, to make the final score 3-1.

Emilano Tade's penalty sends Team Wellington's Scott Basalaj the wrong way The JourneyFan

So Auckland City win the Charity Cup for the 2nd time in a row (the first club to do this) and the 4th time overall, but more importantly for them the result takes them back to the top of the table, 2 points ahead of Team Wellington with a game in hand.