Miramar Rangers 4 Wellington Olympic 3
Dave Farrington Park, Wellington
Central League
Saturday 19th August, 2017
Attendance : 250ish
Miramar's Eric Molloy is taken out by an Olympic tackle The JourneyFan
Two weeks ago when Western Suburbs secured the Central League title with a 6-0 win over Palmerston North Marist, it also sealed Marist's fate and doomed them to relegation, leaving us with rather meaningless games for the last two weeks of the season. Well that is except for the match up between Miramar Rangers and Wellington Olympic.

Now when I grew up in Wellington the big derby was between the National League sides Wellington Diamond United and Miramar Rangers, and that rivalry is still there, although it waned a bit at the end of the 90's when Wellington United dropped out of National League and into a lower division than Miramar. United's woes were caused by financial troubles and they even voted to merge with Wellington Olympic at one stage. Olympic, while initially keen, voted against it so the clubs stayed as they are, but it was Olympic that have taken over the mantle of being Miramar's biggest rivals.

While it can be called a fierce rivalry, it seems strange that it's so intense when you consider that in the 46 games before this meeting, Olympic have only won seven of those, the last being way back in 2010, and that was only the second time this century! However it is intense, I've been at Miramar club rooms and been told stories about how they saw off attempts to drape the Greek flag over the Miramar balcony before a game. I heard an Olympic player on the sideline earlier this season telling people how his first game back was going to be the big one against Miramar (he may have used a more colorful term to describe them). 

Joel Stevens (MR) evens up the scores The JourneyFan
Neither club has had a great season, Miramar in mid table thanks to a slow start due to several of their players being involved with Team Wellington in the Oceania Champions League. Defending champions, Olympic almost got relegated, and will site bad luck with injuries, close games (half their losses were by a single goal) and no doubt suspensions. However with suspensions they really only have themselves to blame, they may try and point the finger at officials but when as a club (ie at all levels) they have received 14 red cards before this game when this seasons average in Wellington is two per club, they really do need to look at their internal discipline as it has cost them not only financially but also in the league, such as today's game where they were missing Luis Corrales and Mario Barcia due to them both having been sent off the week before.
Olympic fans celebrating a goal The JourneyFan

The Olympic fans had got in early and while there was no attempt to take over the balcony, they instead took over the stand with several Greek flags, painted faces, buckets and bells they were making a great atmosphere. They were rewarded after just four minutes when Manny Achol stabbed the ball in to the Miramar net. 

Miramar leveled it up through Joel Stevens in the 22nd minute, only for Gianni Bouzoukis to restore Olympic's lead five minutes later. Then just after the half hour mark, Olympic's Blake Weston made a tackle on Mikhali Bredevedlt that rather upset him, and he got up and remonstrated with Weston, this happened right in front of the Olympic crowd who were more than happy to offer their point of view. Bredevedlt's response was to make an offensive gesture towards them and under the new laws introduced this year, it left referee, John Rowbury, with no option but to send him off.

It was a frantic first half and despite Miramar having more of the possession and territory, Olympic had made the most of their foray's into the Miramar half and were 2-1 up and with the opposition down to 10 men you thought that maybe, just maybe this could be Olympic's day.

Gianni Bouzoukis makes it 2-1 to Olympic The JourneyFan
The second half saw both teams slow down a bit (not much though) and I'm not sure if a young Olympic team were confused that in a game where one team had only 10 men it wasn't them, but they were unable to do anything with the extra man advantage. Not long into the half Joel Stevens got his second of the day, then with about 20 to go Olympic restored their lead.

Andy Bevin was having an outstanding game for Miramar and linking up well with Tom Jackson and Irishman Eric Molloy. It was the Team Wellington marksman, Jackson who evened up the scores before Eric Molloy scored from close range in the 85th minute to make it 4-3. Then in the last minute, Olympic's Gonzalo Amado, was sent for premature ablutions after collecting his second yellow card for pushing a Miramar player.

The game ended 4-3 to Miramar and Olympic's hoodoo continues, but I think even the most biased Olympic fan would begrudgingly acknowledge that Miramar, who came from behind three times and played with only 10 men from the 30th minute, deserved their win.

It was a hugely entertaining game, with a great atmosphere, mainly from the Olympic fan's, although a shout out must go to Miramar stalwart, Old Don, who's lone voice shouting "Come on Mirrramarrrr" could be heard throughout the game. I'm already looking forward to next season's contests.

Miramar players show what the derby win means to them The JourneyFan