How much better is a Saturday kick-off? Beer o’clock? In the Sun? Outstanding work from the decision-makers at the A-League headquarters, dragging the Nix vs Perth fixture forward a few hours. It meant the NZ internationals got to jump on an LA bound plane (for All Whites v Mexico – COME ON KIWIS!), and I to sit down at a very convenient hour, brew in hand, with some quality company.
Pre-game, I had managed to sneak into the TAB and chuck a few lazy bets down. A tenner on scores level at half time, with the Nix bagging the 3 points in the second half. I also chanced my arm with an identical figure on Paul Ifill, our saviour, to sneak off the bench and grab a late one. I’m no Kenny Rogers gambler, but I had a good feeling about this one – my first bet on the Phoenix, so I was feinding for some beginners luck.
After ordering some fish and chips (can’t argue with that), the Nix kicked off. Matt, Scotty and I had managed front row seats at the nifty Papatoetoe Sports complex. Very stoked with our position, less stoked that we were probably the only ones in South Auckland watching the ‘soccer’ – but that’s what you live with when you grow up in the ghetto. We scored early through an Andy Durante screamer – a far post, off-balanced prod which crossed the line with the same rapidity in which a 80’s schoolboy heads to the principal’s office for a caning. And a caning was what I wanted to give Durante – Did he not realize I had $10 on for a half time draw? Does his ignorance know no bounds? So I was cringing every Nix attack in fear of a greater Phoenix lead – but oh dear, I needn’t have worried. Attacking as limp as Elton’s wrist. To add the excitement for me (but not far any Wellington associates), Perth nabbed on back just before the break. Outstanding.
No detailed mention of 1st half events has been made, due to the abundance of A-League mediocrity which saw next to no notable highlight, other than the two goals. Ryo Nagai’s mean wrongfooting of Nix keeper Glen Moss came from a rare moment of flare from Perth’s Sciola, skipping past a defender down the left and cutting back. On the whole, it was a pedestrian affair, if we’re honest. But it was 1-1, which meant my bets were both still on – outstanding.
My Dad showed up for the second half, and shouted two plates of wedges with cheese and below-par bacon, which is actually probably below-par ham. But they were still mean – Cheers Dad. Even though he wears a 2010 Nix shirt and supports them at heart, he’s was pretty ruthless in his often cliché criticism. I couldn't disagree with his analysis of Ben Sigmund and Vince Lia, “Well they’re just crap, aren't they?” That’s what he reckons, alright. Maybe their meager contribution to the Phoenix is behind the lack of creativity, with those two forming the spine of the team?
The second half was as painful to watch. Even more-so now that I needed the Nix to snatch a winner for a 40-odd dollar return, which was definitely paying for next weeks petrol. No doubt about it. That’s possibly the best part about owning a 1.5 litre Honda, the fuel efficiency. The reputation among my generation isn't great, but if you can see past that, then you’re a winner, I say.
The second half. Wellington’s Jason Hicks should have scored, Sigmund should have scored. Both absolute, bread and butter sitters for professional footballers. Ok, you can forgive Hicks for his wild volley, he’s a young feller and only 3 games old. But come on Benny, if you’re going to be battling for World Cup glory against Mexico, you have got to bury those close range headers. It actually looked harder to miss, after Carlos Hernandez delivered it on a plate, with a knife and fork.
It was at this point that my good mate Matt, my wheels, and I left the pub – he had things on his to-do list, and you can always trust Radio Sport to deliver the goods. But I shouldn’t have risked forcing Matt to fall asleep at the wheel. If I’m going to go out in a car crash, it needs to be to some loud Led Zeppelin, Tool, or Nirvana, or something like that. What I actually listened to was my $20 slowly being flushed down the shitter. No goal for Ifill and no winner for the Nix – and no post match comment from either myself or Matt, just before we arrived at my place. Cheers for the lift, mate. So 5 games in, no wins on the board, but another point gained. 2nd to last on the leaderboard – still only two wins off second spot – fairly unrealistic, but you can afford to boast that optimism with a beer in hand. I’ll see ya at Sydney FC where the Nix square off on the 23rd. Cheers.