Capital Premier Division
Alex Moore Park, Johnsonville
Saturday 6th May 2017
Attendance : about 100
At the end of this game I tweeted the score and called it the Northern Hills derby. Northern Hills is an initiative set up to provide a football pathway for players from the Northern Wellington area.It was set up by North Wellington Seniors & Juniors, Onslow Juniors, Onslow College FC & Newlands College FC and until now I was sure Tawa were part of it, as I thought I had seen their logo with the other clubs on some promotional material but when I went to look for it I couldn't find it or any reference to them in the Northern Hills setup, so maybe I was just imaging it.
Whatever the case this game was between two senior neighbouring clubs. When I played for North Wellington, Tawa were always considered our main rivals (North Wellington had absorbed Newlands United by this stage). I have never been sure if the rivalry was fully reciprocated as Tawa are more likely to consider their biggest rivals the club that they broke away from, Western Suburbs (who had changed their name to Porirua United hence the breakaway).
|Karl Romijn The JourneyFan|
Both clubs are reasonably similar as well, both are connected to large junior clubs, and while both teams have spent time in the top division of the Central League, neither have really set the football world alight. Tawa has the edge in terms of honours with five league titles to North Wellington's two. Both clubs are of a similar age, despite Tawa claiming in their program last year to be one of the oldest clubs in Wellington, they are in fact the 8th youngest (there are 14 existing clubs older than them), being formed in 1971, while North Wellington were formed a year later in 1972.
In terms of head to head record, this was the 47th meeting between the clubs first teams in the league and Chatham Cup. Tawa have won 19, North Wellington 14 and 13 had ended in a draw.
Last season the two clubs found themselves in the same division for the first time in 10 years. Tawa who had been relegated from Central League the season before struggled and only survived being relegated thanks to having a goal difference of 4 less than Miramar Rangers Reserves. North Wellington meanwhile had stormed through Capital 1 in 2015 scoring 70 goals and for a while looked as if they would do the same in Capital Premier last season, but a horror spell where they conceded 20 goals in just 4 games saw them finish in 4th place. This season with the addition of ex Wellington Phoenix and All White defender, Ben Sigmund and new coach Lloyd O'Keefe, they were being picked as a contender for the league title this season. As it was Ben Sigmund was out of action with a groin strain and both teams have had mixed results to start the season and sat mid table.
The game then was unsurprisingly tight as both teams sussed each other out and while Tawa dominated the territory in the first half hour, they didn't do too much with it. North Wellington did get the ball in the net after 30 minutes but it was ruled offside. North Wellington perked up after this and were starting to look the slightly stronger team going into half time.
It was 11 minutes into the 2nd half when against the run of play, Tawa's Nick Johnston rose to meet a cross and headed Tawa in front. They held that lead for the next 20 minutes but North Wellington's pressure eventually took its toll and paid off when Sam Gillespie rounded Tawa's player-coach, goalkeeper Lance Ramaekers, to slot home the equaliser for North Wellington. Both teams had chances to win it but some great saves from both Ramaekers and North Wellington's Stuart Dixon kept the scores even so the game end 1-1 which was a fair result.
This was the second time I have seen both these teams this season, I have been disappointed with North Wellington, as after last season I was expecting more from them. Losing Japanese striker Shohei Wantanbe obviously hasn't helped, but that's really no excuse for some poor quality passing and balls being played to no one in particular. Maybe when Siggy returns in the next couple of weeks it may change as I can't see him standing for that sort of play.
I had picked Tawa as favourities to be relegated this season but they seem to be a decent enough team and as long as they avoid many injuries and suspensions they should be a solid mid-table team.