Hilton Petone Cup Group Stage
Petone Memorial
Attendance : 101 when I counted

It's that time of year again when players dust of their boots and start the hard slog of hill runs and fitness training and pre-season friendly games in an effort to get ready for the football season. Well that's the ones that aren't currently playing! The National League and Oceania Champions League and A-League are still going on and with Women's National League and Men's National Youth League completing just before christmas, it's harder these days to find a time of the year when football isn't being played!

Not that I'm complaining, although I had planned to do some mundane things like mowing the lawn this weekend, when I came to do it I decided it was too hot and that I'd really be better off at Petone Memorial watching the derby game between Lower Hutt City and Stop Out.
It was a physical game The JourneyFan

Both clubs have had their successes in this cup, Lower Hutt City having won it six times, the most recent in 2016. While Stop Out have had five wins, their most recent in 2015. This was the 15th time these clubs have met in the 63 year old competition and the fourth time in the last five years.

In the games so far this season, Lower Hutt City have beaten Western Suburbs 4-1 and Upper Hutt City 7-0, while Stop Out beat Western Suburbs 6-0 and Upper Hutt City 3-1. So the result of today's game would determine who would finish top of the group.

Stop Out had opted to play a mainly reserve side with only a couple of regular first teamers. While Lower Hutt City had what looked like their first team, with the exception of Team Wellington players, Nati Hailemairiam and Taylor Schrijvers - that is assuming they will come back to play for them in the winter. It started pretty even with some fairly physical challenges from both sides. The ref was obviously in pre-season mode as he let several of these go and then when he did talk to a Lower Hutt City player about a challenge, he got the wrong one!
Lower Hutt City make it 1-0 The JourneyFan

Lower Hutt City had the better of the play in the first half, Stop Out not really threating when they got near the City goal. After a sustained period of pressure which included hitting the post and an attempt at a back heel, (which had it been back-heeled towards the goal would have scored) Lower Hutt opened the scoring when a cross was floated over that awkward area just in front of the six yard box. Keeper, James McPeake, opted to leave it, which allowed a simple chest in at the far post for City. The second half was even more Lower Hutt City's, I can't remember Stop Out having a shot on goal. They did hold out until later in the game but two goals in the last 20 minutes gave Lower Hutt a 3-0 win.

I used to get quite excited about the Hilton Petone Cup as it meant the season was just around the corner. Also when I used to go along (in the 90s) all the games were played at Petone Memorial (they had 4-5 pitches then), they were in the evening on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday and they were always a good way to catch up with people you hadn't seen since the end of the last season. You could also see who had moved to which club, I remember turning up with a coach of a team one time and him going ballistic as one of his players who told him he was injured was out on the field playing for another club! But these days there is football on all the time, the games are played over three grounds, social media means its is easier to keep in touch (even with people you don't know!) and you can check out the latest transfers on Capital Football's website, Still it was a fantastic day weather wise and a good way to spend the afternoon and the crowd of 101 will be alot higher than the Weenix will get next Sunday against Tasman at DaveyF in the National League!!!