2017 Kelly Cup Final
Upper Hutt City 3 Wellington United 1
Petone Memorial
Saturday 2nd September
Attendance : 60 or so

Upper Hutt City Kelly Cup Champions 2017 TheJourneyFan

The 45th Kelly Cup final saw Upper Hutt City coach Wendi Henderson collect her 12th winners medal, she had previously won 10 as a player and one as a coach, and despite playing in an earlier round (an 8-0 win over Univeristy), it was as a coach she collected her medal this year after her Upper Hutt City team concluded a successful season, with a 3-1 win over rivals Wellington United, to add the Kelly Cup to the W-League title.

For a good write up on the game check out 

The Kelly Cup is one of my favourite cup competitions. I'm not really sure why. I think it's probably because I have memories of watching my mum play in it when she played for Mana and they almost caused a huge upset when they took the famous Miramar Rangers (nee New Zealand) team to a penalty shootout sometime in the early 80's.

Back then the Kelly Cup had real prestige in Wellington's Women's football, everyone entered it and while Miramar would inevitably win it (in the 20 years between 1974-93 they lost something like 12 league and cup games in total!) it was a competition that had a proper cup magic about it. 

The cup was donated to the Wellington Women's FA by Jim Nutter, who was involved with the Newlands United club, and named after the first president of the Wellington Women's FA, Pat Kelly, back in 1973. It is the oldest Women's football trophy in New Zealand and was the premier cup competition in Wellington until 1994, when the National Women's Knockout Cup (they really need a better name for it) was introduced. Obviously the National Cup took precedent over the local one and from 1995 until 2001 the Kelly Cup was only open to teams that hadn't entered the National Cup. This made sense and kept the prestige of both cups, but for whatever reason in 2002 they opened the Kelly Cup up to all teams. 
The Kelly Cup TheJourneyFan

In more recent times the Kelly Cup seems to have become that awkward school friend that you used to be great mates with but now just talk's about nothing but the old times. 

From a strange year in 2014, when several teams lost in early rounds but still got through to the next round in order to make the numbers right, to 2015 & 16 when there were only 10 & 7 entries respectively, inflexibility over fixtures from Capital Football leading to some clubs not entering at all due to clashes with national schoolgirl tournaments, huge gaps between rounds (14 weeks last season between round 1 & 2), then this year all W-League & Capital Premier teams being told they had been entered (even if they didn't want to be) and if they defaulted it would cost them $2000! It's pretty obvious something needs to be done to restore the prestige of the grand old dame of New Zealand women's football trophy's.

Now years ago when I would have finished this here having had my moan, but as my Dad always used to say - well what should they do about it? So here are a couple of ideas (in no particular order)

Option A - A Club Cup

But it is a club cup you say, what I mean is that each club enters one team. Now this can be their top team, their social team, their development team or a team made up from a mix of these, it's up to the club. All they would have to ensure is that the squad was named before the competition started and they would have to stick with those players for the Kelly Cup games.

Option B - Make it a competition for Premier Division and lower
Basically exempt the W-League teams as they will enter the NWKO Cup. The premier division & division 1 teams enter the Kelly Cup, Division two and three teams can opt for either the Kelly Cup or the Executive Shield
Option C - A new league
The more radical option, so unlikely to happen. This ties in with the W-League. The W-League is capital football's attempt to raise the standard of Women's football in Wellington. It's hard to say if it's worked after one season and they have given it three years. The problem I see is familiarity and boredom, The W-League teams play each other three times in the league and then will usually meet again in the cups, ending up playing each other four to five times a year. Meanwhile Premier League clubs such as Waterside Karori, University, Petone & BNU are shut out and really have been given no incentive to develop players as any they do will just get picked off by the W-League clubs.

So I would create a 12 team premier league, after the first round they would split into a top and bottom six and play two further rounds, the winner of the top six getting the Kelly Cup.

The first round you will get some mismatches, but then you do anyway (in the W-League this year there were scores of 12-0, 11-1, 10-0 & 9-0 recorded), but it gives those teams just below the W-League something to aim for and increase their standard, this season it could have been possible that Waterside Karori or University got into the top six, and while these clubs have a bit to go to catch up the the big three of Upper Hutt City, Palmerston North Marist and Wellington United, from what I saw they would have competed with Seatoun, Stop Out and Wairarapa United.

Whether anything will happen, I don't know, but it is distressing to see several clubs complaining about having to enter this competition and only doing so when they were advised of severe financial penalties if they didn't. The Kelly Cup is a historic cup with a proud history and it deserves much better than it is getting treated now.

Champion Coach Upper Hutt City's Wendi Henderson with her 12th Kelly Cup Winners Medal The JourneyFan