Kiwis: Don’t fly too high too soon.


Rory Fallon's goal sees the Kiwis take flight...

Saturday night saw over 35000 people pile in to Westpac Stadium in Wellington to see New Zealand overcome Bahrain by one goal to nil and in doing so qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. This is a feat that the All Whites have only achieved once before – back in ’82 – and so naturally, the football fans of New Zealand (myself included) are on a massive high right about now, it was a fantastic night for all involved.

However, sights will now inevitably turn to the World Cup itself and while of course not even the most optimistic fans will expect a New Zealand victory or even qualification from the group stages, there’s still a danger that sights could be set too high. Ricki Herbert acknowledged that he has no designs on winning the competition but did suggest in one of his many post-match interviews (I can’t find a source I’m afraid) that they would cause a few upsets along the way. It’s great to see him in such confident spirits, but a reality check could be prudent.

Click through to find out why…


One Shot For Profit


One Shot for Glory?
There is little more discouraging than those terrible, awful people who seek to make money from football. There are many examples of these villains in the modern game; not least those foreign investors who buy clubs and run them into the ground for personal profit, or the agents who act as malicious middle men providing minimal service at maximal profit, or even those who run the game these days, treating it less as a sport and more as a business, sacrificing the games’ integrity to further fill their pockets.

Of course such acts of greed are commonplace in today’s materialistic society. But these footballing crimes are worst because they take advantage of the sheer obsession of football fans. We are the life and blood of the game, and without us it could not function, nevermind make them money. And they rely on that, safe in the knowledge that we cannot pull away, that we are an easy source of income, that they can rip us off again and again and we cannot, no matter how hard we try, sever our ties with out club, our game.

Below even these executive types of modern football though, are the touts. The ticket scalpers. They buy up tickets for the big games and flog them at an enormous profit, depriving real fans the chance of seeing the game that means so much to them, or at least making them pay far over the odds to do so. It sickens me because these are people like us, fellow fans who are content to take advantage of their peers for their own personal profit. And at present, there are hundreds of them in New Zealand, denying me the chance to see New Zealand’s World Cup Qualifier against Bahrain.

Click through for the full article…

WDKF Wednesday: Playing Away – A FIFA Conspiracy?


WDKF Wednesday Topper

I woke up early this morning to attempt to buy a couple of tickets for the All White’s playoff match against Bahrain in November, but the 500 temporary seating tickets that went on sale today somehow disappeared in the 3 seconds after clicking “Buy Now” at precisely 9am that it took the next page to load. That seems implausible to me, but I know next to nothing about the workings of Ticketek, and so I move on.

The distinctive smell of conspiracy and controversy is far more pungent around FIFA’s strange decision to alter the usual enforcement of the away goals rule for the same fixture, which means that away goals will continue to decide the tie after extra time – giving the away side Bahrain an extra 30 minutes to score a crucial away goal. What could have driven such a strange and apparently obviously unfair rule change? Why, FIFA’s never-ending greed of course!

Click through for the full conspiracy theory at…

WDKF Wednesday: Football Fever – Bahrain vs. NZ


WDKF Wednesday Topper

This week’s WDKF Wednesday column sees me looking forward to New Zealand’s World Cup Qualifying tie with Bahrain in Manama, due to kick-off at 4.30 am NZT on Sunday morning. The World Cup is such a massive sporting event that qualification would have an enormous impact on either of these countries. Living in NZ as I do, I desperately hope that NZ can overcome their more fancied opponents and really put football on the map here.

To find out why qualification would be such a big achievement and have such effects on New Zealand, as well as to see whether or not I think they can qualify, click through and read my WDKF Wednesday article…

Salient Article: Something Big Is Coming…


Salient Article Topper

Ok, it is Monday and I am back as promised. However, after playing two tough games of football and winning the Strait Cup for the Karori Magpies as well as sleeping very little and altogether having a great weekend, I am pretty exhausted. It is also my flat mate’s 21st birthday today which requires celebration and so as a result, a proper post is pretty much out of the question until tomorrow, when hopefully I will have recovered a little more.

For now though, you may content yourselves with my latest Salient article, which looks at New Zealand’s upcoming World Cup Qualifier with Bahrain and it’s significance in the wider context of NZ Sport. Also to blow my own trumpet a little, I came second in the award for Best Sports Writer at the Aotearoa Student Press Associsation Awards on Saturday night for my work for Salient this year. Given that that work consisted of just three articles about football (as opposed to all sports) I take that as a huge compliment and am very proud!

Click through to read my (almost award-winning) Salient article…

Not All White: Where NZ are going wrong.


Parker was a beneficiary of NZs atrocious defending.

Parker was a beneficiary of NZ's atrocious defending.

I will concede that I’m not a very big supporter of new Zealand’s All Whites. My loyalties lie very much with England when it comes to international football and usually I’m not really bothered by NZ’s results. However, I am an avid supporter of New Zealand football in general. As an exiled Englishman who is fanatical about football I’m very keen to see the profile and popularity if the game raised in this largely egg-chasing country. And I know that the best way for that to happen would be for the All Whites to qualify for next year’s World Cup, and so in that quest they have my support.

After watching this morning’s game though, I’m very worried. The 5-0 defeat to Spain can be struck off, that means nothing. But if NZ are serious about overcoming Asia’s 5th placed qualifier and making the World Cup they will need to improve vastly from their showing against South Africa. They were beaten 2-0, but had the Bafana’s finishing been up to scratch it could have been many more, and NZ’s complete toothlessness in attack and haplessness at the back is of a major concern for New Zealand football fans, myself included.

Click through to find out where NZ went wrong…

Microphones: A Refereeing Solution


Referee Ovrebo is surrounded by outraged Chelsea players at the final whistle.

Referee Ovrebo is surrounded by outraged Chelsea players at the final whistle.

Having watched the great Champions League semi-final 2nd leg between Chelsea and Barcelona this morning, I was pleased to see that the standard of attacking play was as high as we had hoped for, and I was gutted for Chelsea, to come so close after playing so well, only to see it all slip away at the very last second, was harsh. Worse though, was the refereeing, and both sides can feel hard done by after another shambolic refereeing performance, following on from yesterday’s game.

It is such a shame that such a good game of football will ultimately be remembered not for two great goals, not for some heroic defending from Chelsea, some persistent attacking from Barca and for the result, which is of course always remembered, but instead for the tragic refereeing that plagued it. It’s becoming an all too familiar trend, and it needs to be addressed. Fear not though, for (as Baldrick would say) I have a cunning plan…

Click through to find out more…