Waterside Karori 2 Western Suburbs Reserves 3
Men's Capital Premier
Saturday 8th July, 2017
Karori Park, Wellington
Attendance : 112 

When I started this blog I had the aim of visiting every club in Wellington, and after two and a half years, 133 posts, an award for Website of the Year & 75 thousand views, I had been doing not bad with only six clubs left to visit. I got to tick one of at this game, despite Karori Park being the second closest ground to where I live, I hadn't seen Waterside Karori at home!

Waterside Karori AFC make the bold claim "since 1894" on their club badge and with some validity too. While the present day Waterside Karori club was formed in 1988 by the merger of Waterside AFC (known as Columbus Waterside then) and Karori Swifts, the history of the clubs involved does go back to 1894. Swifts were formed then and were one of the first big names in Wellington football, winning the Venus Shield seven times by 1911. They were originally based in central Wellington, but eventually relocated to Karori, although it took until 1968 before they changed their name to Karori Swifts. While this allowed them to grow and become one of the biggest junior clubs in Wellington, the senior club never replicated their early success and Central League Division 2 was the highest they played.

Jack Haggerty & Ethan Cain who were making their 50th appearances for Waterside Karori (apologies to Jock Sutherland who also did but I didn't get a photo of him)  The JourneyFan

Waterside were formed in 1921 by workers at the Wellington dockyards. They too quickly established themselves as one of Wellington's top clubs winning the Venus Shield in 1922 & 23 (they went on to win six times in total) and in the late 30's became the first club to win the Chatham Cup three times on the trot. Always an ambitious club, they won the Central League five times and had one season in the National League in 1978.

In 1987 the National League was expanded to 14 teams and the NZFA was encouraging clubs to merge. However it was still a surprise when the radical working class Watersider's teamed up with the posh conservative suburbanites of Karori, but the marriage worked and in 1988 Waterside Karori were back in the National League. They lasted two seasons and struggled at a time where there were four Wellington clubs in the league and competition for players was high.

Since then Waterside Karori have been a competitive club (they have finished in the top 3 in 13 of their last 19 seasons) but they have been unable to break out of the second tier into the Central League. Going into this game they were top of the table, two points ahead of Petone, thanks to beating them 1-0 last weekend.

They were up against Western Suburbs reserves, only one of two teams to have beaten them this season (Petone being the other). 

Facundo Babero (WK) gives thanks after scoring The JourneyFan
It was a tight game, played in the middle of the park and a few goalmouth scrambles for both teams, at half time it felt as if 0-0 was a fair reflection of the game. Five minutes into the second half, Western Suburbs pounced on a defensive mistake and Ahmad Mohammadi made it 1-0. Wests then hit the bar, before Mohammadi got a second from the penalty spot.

Then there was three minutes of madness, Facundo Babero pulled a goal back for Waterside with a nice header, from the kick off, Wests went straight down the other end and Erik Alexandersen made it 3-1. Waterside Karori restarted and won a penalty which was converted by Babero. I was still trying to compose a tweet about Babero's first goal by the time it was 3-2! Waterside Karori kept pressing and Babero almost had a hat-trick but his shot went just over the bar and the score finished 3-2 to Wests.

Petone beat (and effectively relegated) BNU, 1-0, which sees them go back to the top of the table. There are two points in it and four games left. Waterside Karori have the easier run in with three home games, while Petone have a couple of tricky ties with a derby against Lower Hutt City and 3rd place North Wellington, so the title will go down to the wire and then the winner will have to overcome the Central Football Premier League winner, which is looking like Havelock North Wanderers, to see if they can get into the Central League next season. 

For photos from the game click here

After not seeing Waterside Karori for so long I ended up seeing three of their teams play over the weekend (well four if you count my nephew's 9th grade junior game for the Onslow Rangoons at Karori Park in the morning)

For photos from the curtain raiser Waterside Karori Reserves v Kapiti Coast United (1-1) Click here

Hayden Polyanszky (WK) is upended by a Kapiti Coast United player The JourneyFan

And for photos from Sunday's Women's Capital Premier game between Waterside Karori & Wellington United (0-1) Click Here

A Waterside Karori Throw in at Sundays Womens game The JourneyFan