Endavour Park, Porirua
Saturday 5th August 2017 Att : 500
Kiwitea Street, Auckland
Sunday 6th August 2017 Att : 350

It was a Chatham Cup weekend again and we were at the quarter final stage which meant it was an open round (IE the draw wasn't regionalised as it was up until now). The regionalism of the Chatham Cup is nothing new, in fact for the first 27 years of the competition it was decided by the best team from each region playing each other and then the winners of the North Island and South Island meeting in the final. It's a shame they don't do the open round from the round of 16 as with four Northern League teams in the quarter finals it seems weighted towards them, but then as 63 of this years 128 teams came from the Northern region what can you do?

At least this year there was a game in Wellington and Saturday saw me out at Endeavour Park for newly crowned Central League Champions, Western Suburbs, to take on Bay Olympic of Auckland. This was the first ever meeting of these two clubs, Bay Olympic being founded in 1998 by the merger of Green Bay-Titirangi and Blockhouse Bay. 

Blockhouse Bay's Colin Shaw
Western Suburbs had met one of Bay Olympic's founding clubs, Blockhouse Bay, when they were in the National League (1970-71) and also in the Chatham Cup Final of 1970. Wests were leading 2-0 with only seven minutes to go, but were unable to stop NZ player of the year, Colin Shaw, getting two late goals to force extra time and ultimately a replay (the first ever in Chatham Cup history). In the replay, Wests twice came from behind and looked as if they had done enough to force extra time before that man again, Colin Shaw, popped up with a last minute goal to break Western Suburbs hearts and give Blockhouse Bay the cup.

Trying to predict who would win this game was difficult, Wests have been playing brilliant football all season, just won the Central League title, had only lost one game (and that was by a single goal) and even drew 0-0 with the A-League Wellington Phoenix. All I knew about Bay Olympic was that they were currently 6th in the Northern League and they had a few hard games in the cup to get to this stage. When I checked out their team list and saw they had the likes of Chad Coombes and Julyann Collett from Waitakere United and Auckland City's Mario Bilen, I realised it wasn't going to be the comfortable win for Western Suburbs that I thought it would be.

It was a great day weather wise at Endeavour and to add to the Wests fans and Ole Academy players watching were quite a few Bay Olympic fans that had made their way down from Auckland. One of the loudest was Andy Hancock, who created a great atmosphere by himself, although his daughter, Scarlett, didn't think so!

Bay Olympic fan Andy Hancock singing much to the embarrassment of his daughter Scarlett

Western Suburbs started well and did what they usually do, they dominate possession, keep the ball and frustrate the opposition, it usually works and they will have 1 or 2 goals by half time and then they let loose in the second half (they had scored 26 goals in 4 cup games). It was mostly working for them but Bay Olympic, with Mario Bilen at the heart of their defence, were keeping them out. 

There was an incident after about half an hour when a Wests defender passed the ball straight to a Bay Olympic player who was in front of an open goal, he must have been as surprised as the crowd were, as he took his time to line up his shot and by the time he did keeper Andrew Withers had recovered to make a simple save. It was about then I thought it would take something special to beat this Wests team and that's when Niklas Ordenewitz did something special hitting an astonishing volley in from an acute angle to give Bay Olympic a 1-0 lead which they took into half time.

Owen Parker-Price scores from the penalty spot The JourneyFan

Wests got one back in the second half when Owen Parker-Price converted from the penalty spot, but a goalkeeping error from Withers, led to Julyann Collett getting what proved to be the winner. It was one of those games that could have gone either way, but Hidson's goal was special and deserved to be on the winning side. Wests will be downhearted but as coach Declan Edge said after the game, they'll take the experience, put it in the bank and come back better next year.

After this we hightailed it to Turangi, before an early start on Sunday morning to get to the Auckland suburb of Sandringham to see Central United take on Wairarapa United at Kiwitea Street.

Central United were founded in 1962 by Croatian immigrants and after a shaky start when after a couple of incidents the Auckland FA wanted to ban them, they then progressed through the Northern League's and then surprised everyone (except themselves) by being invited into the 1996 summer league ahead of six time National League winners, Mt Wellington. They proved worthy replacements winning the Chatham Cup five times and the National League twice before forming the National League franchise Auckland City (who have won the Oceania Champions League seven times in a row).

Central United's Bucket Man #YellowYellow The JourneyFan
Wairarapa United were formed in 1996, won the Chatham Cup in 2011, and at the beginning of this season coach and sponsor Phil Kenizey decided he wanted to win the Chatham Cup again. He did this by recruiting most of a National League team, giving this game a very much Auckland City v Tasman United feel.

The game was not that much different from Saturday's one, with Central taking on the Wests role of retaining possession, knocking it round a lot but not having many shots on goal. Wairarapa were trying to play the football that they were capable of, but the loss of Swede Ermal Hadjari a couple of weeks before had obviously affected them and while they could have stolen the game near the end, when Central captain Dean Lausev scored with seven minutes to go it was all over. Emilano Tade made it 2-0 with a goal in the last minute.

From hearing about the other quarter finals (Birkenhead United 0 Onehunga Sports 3 & Nelson Suburbs 0 Cashmere Technical 3) I definitely picked the best two to go to even if it meant traveling a distance 11 times more than Birkenhead United have traveled for their eight away games in the last two seasons!

The Semi Finals see Central United take on Bay Olympic on Saturday 25th August and Christchurch's Cashmere Technical host Onehunga Sports.