After being involved in five of the last six Women’s Knockout Cup finals and winning three of them, you might think the magic of the cup has worn off for the players and management of Glenfield Rovers.
But coach Andy Clay insists that couldn’t be further from the truth and his desire to lift one of the most illustrious trophies in the domestic game remains as strong as ever.
“I’ll let you know when the novelty of winning anything wears off – I’ll be the one on the beach not coaching football anymore,” he laughs.
“I still absolutely enjoy winning it and there’s no sense of, ‘Oh, we’ve done this before’. In fact, people in a lot of sports will tell you the feeling becomes addictive and that you want to have it again. So it’s actually the other way around.”
While their recent success has not dimmed any of Glenfield’s enthusiasm, they have even more motivation to add another title to their name this Sunday after finally losing their grip on the cup last season. Rovers were forced to surrender their crown to local rivals Forrest Hill Milford United, whom they were eventually defeated by on penalties after a thrilling 2-2 draw.
They have already earned revenge on their neighbours after beating them 3-1 in the quarter-finals but Clay says that will count for little if they do not go on to complete the job.
Glenfield Rovers coach Andy Clay on the Women’s Knockout Cup final
“It’s funny, people have asked me about last year’s final a lot and I suppose it does play a bit of a part because you certainly want to erase that memory,” he admits.
“But I think the joy of winning it is more of a prevalent feeling than trying to wipe away any tears from last year. It’s an enjoyable day to be part of and it’s certainly an enjoyable one to win.”
Standing in the way of that addictive winning feeling are Eastern Suburbs, whose pedigree in the cup contrasts greatly with Glenfield’s as they are yet to have a title win to their name. The closest Suburbs have come is in 2005, when they made it all the way to the final but were beaten 2-0 by Lynn-Avon United – still the most successful club in the cup’s 23-year history.
“We’re buzzing after our semi-final win, that’s really given us a lot of confidence and we’re going to play off that going into the final,” says experienced Suburbs midfielder Kate Seatter, who adds that Suburbs are a well-drilled unit under the guidance of coach Mauro Donoso.
“It’s all about how we can play as a team, that’s how Mauro has coached us all year so if we can keep that spirit together and play as a team on Sunday then we’ll be able to perform to the best of our ability.”
Glenfield’s outstanding young goalkeeper Anna Leat and Suburbs’ prolific striker Aimee Phillips will both not be involved after selection in the Football Ferns squad for this month’s two-match tour of the USA. But the host of FFDP players in both squads will be available, meaning the talents of some of the country’s best up-and-coming players – including the exciting Suburbs trio of Jacqui Hand, Grace Jale and Nicole Mettam – will all be on show.
Glenfield have also recently lost Katie Rood – the top scorer in Women’s Knockout Cup history – to a professional deal with Italian club Juventus but there will still be plenty of experience in their ranks in Liz Savage (nee Milne), Stephanie Skilton, Claudia Bunge, Dayna Stevens, Kate Loye and Tessa Berger, who have all played for their country at either senior or age-group level.
Despite that array of talent, Rovers finished six points off top spot in the recently-concluded Lotto NRFL Women’s Premier while Eastern Suburbs’ league season ended in heart-breaking fashion as they were pipped to the title in the last round by Three Kings United. Suburbs have enjoyed the better of the two league meetings between the pair, winning 5-1 before coming from behind to draw 2-2.
“It’s going to be a good contest and that’s what you expect in a final,” Clay says.
“With respect to other parts of the country, I think two of the three best teams in the country are playing in the final.”
Women’s Knockout Cup Final
Glenfield Rovers vs Eastern Suburbs
Sunday 10 September, 12pm
QBE Stadium, Auckland
Live on SKY Sport
Glenfield Rovers: 18. Hayley Bindon (GK), 2. Sonja Bain, 3. Claudia Bunge (c), 5. Kylie Jens, 6. Serena Murrihy, 7. Grace Evans, 8. Dayna Stevens, 9. Kate Loye, 10. Sydney Bultitude, 11. Stephanie Skilton, 12. Liz Savage, 13. McHale Perkins, 14. Georgia Brown , 15. Tessa Berger, 16. Hannah Mackay-Wright
Coach: Andy Clay
Eastern Suburbs: 20. Corina Brown (GK), 2. Kate Carlton, 3. Erinna Wong, 5. Rebekah Van Dort (c), 6. Jacqui Hand, 9. Erin Roxburgh, 10. Grace Jale, 11. Jaimee Twichel, 12. Nicole Mettam, 13. Kate Seatter, 15. Amy Waters, 16. Lizzie Ellis, 17. Hannah Pilley, 18. Emily Gillion, 19. Amber Whitley, 21. Celia Patterson (GK)
Coach: Mauro Donoso