Team named champions
They played their last game with a depleted team and lost, but didn’t care, because Taupo¯’s top football team had been crowned champions in the first division Waikato-Bay of Plenty competition the previous weekend.
Taupo¯ AFC club president John McCartney says the win is due to a combination of player commitment and the development of player skills.
A squad of 18 players have trained twice a week for the 24-week season, in addition to pre-season training that started in February. John says the squad is made up of local players plus two travelling from Rotorua, ranging in age from 16 to men in their mid 30s.
“Full credit to the coach, Mike McGrath, who also has a full time job. But overall the win is a whole team effort of the guys all looking after each other.”
Not without controversy, the competition was dogged by teams defaulting and one team being expelled, leading to the last game against Pa¯pa¯moa being meaningless. However in the final against Mercury Tokoroa, the score was a convincing 7-1 win, with Fin Smith the top goal scorer over the season.
John says that playing for Taupo¯ AFC Premiership is hugely time consuming.
“We play away every second weekend, and it’s virtually a twohour drive every time,” says John.
He says the top team often poaches players from reserves.
“The coach of the reserves team, Brad Frew, was very patient with us. He never really knew who was going to be in his team.”
On Saturdays a loyal band of supporters would come to support the games and John says they all deserve a big thank you.
“It can be pretty bitter down there at Crown Park, but our supporters came along to support the teams each time we played.”
John says he hopes that most of this year’s team will come back to play next year, but says the club never really knows who is going to turn up to pre-season training.
“At least four members of the squad are school boys who will be heading off to university and other players have signalled they may retire from the 1st division competition due to the physical demands of the game.”
The competitive season may be over, but football keeps on going with the John McCartney Invitation Tournament at Crown Park this weekend, with 560 games scheduled to be played on 24 fields.
“We have 130 teams arriving this weekend, and 50 teams on the waiting list who want to play. It’s a tournament that promotes enjoyment and participation for school-age children.”
■ Watch the football tournament this weekend at Crown Park, free entry, starting at 8am and finishing 5pm on Saturday. and 3pm on Sunday.
Taupo¯ AFC Premiership was crowned the Loaded WaiBOP Premiership Champions in a convincing 7-1 win against Mercury Tokoroa.