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A-League of Our Own

Michael Oliver



I realise that by now you’re well into the first throes of the university year, with the tumultuous turmoil of assignments, essays, floor-mates who leave bitchy messages by the phone on Walis 3rd, and moronic flatmates (who think that if they cross your name off the milk carton that it’s no longer yours) starting to squeeze and wrangle those precious droplets of sanity out of you. But take a moment to relax, for I have exciting news…

You know that poorly-run-piss-hick-amateur-soccer club from Auckland that couldn’t win a match to save itself, that enjoyed approval ratings comparable to President Bush’s, that recruited players who answered the question “what shape is a soccer ball?” with “vanilla”, and used to go by the nickname the ‘New Zealand Kingz’, then the ‘New Zealand Knights’, then finally, the ‘New Zealand WhoCaresIfWeDragTheWholeGoddamnCountryDownWithUsmaniacs-x-treme-Andre 3000s’? Remember them? Oh ho, get this: they’re on their way to Wellington! Yeah baby – I’m alt-tabbing my way to the season tickets website as we speak.
Last Thursday saw the arrival of the much maligned New Zealand Soccer funded A-League franchise in our fair capital city, coach Ricky Herbert in tow. Shifting the former Kingz/Knights/Andre 3000s to Wellington is a move that glints with hope and shines with that sweetie-pie symbolism sports fans adore. It signals both a change in perspective and a change in the aura of failure the once laughable club carried, which had almost quelled its existence completely.
Indeed, the move brings a certain level of promise; Wellingtonians are notoriously loyal fans with an easily accessible stadium and a give-em-hell attitude that’s both charming and daunting. ‘Going to the stadium’ is similar to ‘going out for brunch’, or ‘going to Wainui to see how long you stay alive’ for the average Wellingtonian. It’s the perfect setting for redemption and New Zealand soccer could certainly do with a poster-boy who shows up to press conferences sober and with a pair of shoes.
I admit that I look upon this with a certain level of disdain; it’s awfully difficult to read a newspaper and see the headline “Woolingon 4, New Zealand 0”. Often I find myself thumbing my nose at the idea that an entirely Auckland-centric sports outfit would dare to invoke the name of an entire country – especially when they seem incapable of winning.
But perhaps this time we will be surprised, and we Wellington folk will finally hear some good news in the form of a successful A-League soccer club. The Andre 3000s deserve nothing less.