August 23, 2012
AUCKLAND - They call him the godfather, and despite a career in which he has amassed 80-caps for the All Whites including a FIFA World Cup and played professionally in Europe, the ASB Chatham Cup still holds special meaning with Ivan Vicelich.
Besides his three winners’ medals for Waitakere City in 1994 and Central United in 1997 and 1998, the Central skipper is one of only two people to have won the Jack Batty Memorial Trophy for player of the Chatham Cup final twice – Christchurch United’s Michael McGarry is the other – suggesting the occasion brings the best out of him.
“I remember winning it in 1997 with Central United in an unbelievable game,” Vicelich said.
“We were down 2-0 and won it 3-2 in extra time and it was a real highlight of my career. Victories like that in a final don’t get forgotten quickly and it something that always comes up when we reminisce down at the club. It‘s great to be involved again for a chance at another trophy.
“It was great to be awarded the man of the match twice. At the end of the day you just go out there to play well and win and I was lucky enough to win the Jack Batty in two of those finals. I enjoy big games and if that brings the best out of me then that’s very lucky because every footballer likes to play well in big games. Hopefully this year I can have a good game and help the team cross the line again.”
Central United are something of Chatham Cup royalty having previously appeared in six finals and lifted the 89-year-old trophy four times, most recently in 2005 and 2007.
Stacked with current and former ASB Premiership players, Central will start the final as firm favourites and as well as Vicelich can lean on the likes of Auckland City stalwarts Jacob Spoonley, David Mulligan, Adam Dickinson, Albert Riera and Daniel Koprivcic.
But for Vicelich the key could be his long time friend and four time Cup winner Paul Urlovic who has an enviable record for the Auckland-based club who are celebrating their 50-year anniversary, but is under an injury cloud.
“The thing about Paul is that he’s never lost a final in the Chatham Cup or in a league. He’s keeps producing every year, and this season is the league’s top scorer. He’s just keeps going and going.
“He took a bit of a knock last week so all the guys are hoping he’ll be available for selection because he’s a great part of our squad.”
“It’s always the focus for the club to do well but with the 50th season we really wanted to do well in the league and the Chatham Cup. We’ve played some tough teams in the cup this year but put in some really good performances and fully deserve to be in the final. It’s very special that the club has a chance of silverware in 50th year, and hopefully we can bring that trophy back on the plan and bring it back to Kiwi Street.”
On the other side of the ledger a youthful Lower Hutt with an average age of “around 19” bode as the cliché underdogs but should take heart in the fact that Central League clubs have an enviable record in recent years winning each of the last three years.
“The players are looking forward to it,” said Lower Hutt coach Brendan McIntyre.
“They’re a little apprehensive as a young squad but we’re trying to keep their feet on the ground and prepare them as best we can so they enjoy the day.
“They are young in years and young in terms of experience. Ivan Vicelich is probably old enough to be some of the boys’ dad!”
Despite their youth, McIntyre says his side are fully aware of what winning the Chatham Cup would mean, especially to the club faithful.
“They all appreciate the enormity of the Chatham Cup and just want to put on a good performance. They are aware of the history and tradition involved and we’re hoping they’ll be able to handle that on the day.
“We’ve been able to get this far and hopefully if we’re lucky we’ll be good enough to go another step.
“As a club, we’ve been going for 91 years which is a little longer than the Chatham Cup itself so you’re always aiming to win a league or a cup. It’s a big thing, not just for the team but also for the club. We’ve got volunteers who have given a massive amount to the club over the last 40 years and it’s really about the club getting together on the day and hopefully the team can give all those people something to shout about on the day.
Captain Hamish Watson will lead the line for Lower Hutt and has been training with the Wellington Phoenix recent in recent weeks. The Phoenix connection has further impacted on the club who will again be without the services of promising young goalkeeper Scott Basalaj, who is away in India with the Phoenix.
Basalaj’s absence is the third in the ASB Chatham Cup run having missed the quarter final with Birkenhead and the semi final win over Caversham after flying out to link up with the Oly-Whites for the London Olympics. Also missing is Pomare Te Anau who has returned to the US to continue his university scholarship.
Lower Hutt will also enjoy home advantage of sorts at Newtown Park, as the final moves out of Auckland for the second year running. Kickoff is at 2.30pm with the final of the ASB Women’s Knockout Cup between Massey University and Three Kings United kicking off proceedings.
85th ASB Chatham Cup final
Central United v Lower Hutt City
Newtown Park, Wellington
Sunday 26 August, 2012
Central United: (from) 1-Jacob SPOONLEY (GK), 3-Nick DALE, 4-Kris CARPENTER, 5-Takuya IWATA, 8-Jason HICKS, 9-Paul URLOVIC, 10-Stuart HOGG, 12-David MULLIGAN, 13-Adam DICKINSON, 14-Jacob HALL, 15-Ivan VICELICH (c), 16-Albert RIERA, 18-Daniel KOPRIVCIC, 19-Mauro RODRIGUEZ, 20-Emiliano TADE, 21-Riki VAN STEEDEN, 22-Blaz BUGARIN (GK)/Patrick GEORGE (GK)
Coach: Chris ZORICICH
Lower Hutt City: (from): 1-Steve BAYARD (GK), 2-Caleb DUNCAN, 3-Jared MITCHELL, 4-James VERNON, 5-Hayden STUTHRIDGE, 6-Kade SCHRIJVERS, 7-Taban MAKOII, 8-Hamish PRICE, 9-Tobias BERTSCH, 10-Hamish WATSON (captain), 11-Cam LIDSTONE, 12-Jarrod SMITH, 13-Shaun MELROSE, 14-Jack IMRAY, 15-Martin PEREYRA, 18-Shaquille STERLING, 19-Taylor HALL-JONES, 20-Taylor SCHRIJVERS, 77-Andrew COAD.
Coach: Brendan MCINTYRE
Referee: Matt CONGER
Assistant Referee: Brent BEST
Assistant Referee: Simon LOUNT
Fourth Official: Mirko BENISCHKE