Clubs from the Northern Football Federation will make history on September 11 when for the first time all four teams contesting the National Cup Finals at QBE Stadium in Albany will come from the northern region.
Back in 2001, Auckland Football had four teams from their Federation contest the National Cup finals when Ellerslie played Lynn Avon United in the Women’s Knockout Cup Final and Central faced Uni-Mount in the Chatham Cup Final.
Fifteen years later, Northern have achieved the same feat. Birkenhead United booked their place in their first final when they defeated Miramar Rangers 3-1 at a packed out Shepherd’s Park on Sunday, while across town Waitakere City outclassed Three Kings United when they won 6-1.
On Saturday, Forrest Hill Milford United were too good for Cashmere Technical, winning 6-0 in the NZ Women’s Knockout Cup in Christchurch, and defending champions Glenfield Rovers got past Upper Hutt City 1-0 to have a chance of completing a three-peat of titles.
The football community on the north side of the Harbour Bridge are buzzing about the all-Northern Finals and Northern Football Federation CEO John Limna said the final will be a special day for local football.
“It was a fantastic weekend of football, and obviously a great achievement for clubs from our Federation,” said Limna. “We have four very strong clubs competing in the final so it’s going to be a great spectacle and one that we will remember for years to come.”
Limna believed the dominance of Northern Football sides is not by chance. Their success is due to the clubs governing structures which has set up a pivotal platform for the youth systems coming through.
“You look at the clubs that have got through, and you’ve got four very strong teams. Each club has a very strong coaching structure and stability in players. They’ve got stability on the field but they also have stability off the field, they’re all very well run,” he said. “It’s down to the structure they have in place and we as a Federation support them as much as we can but to a large degree you have to look at the clubs themselves, it’s all about the governing structures they have in place and especially the coaches and players they have developed.”
There were a total of 16 goals scored in the Chatham Cup and Women’s Knockout Cup semi-finals on the weekend and Limna expected that attacking brand of football would continue.
“I think we’re going to see all-out attacking football, you look at the teams and the way they played their semi-finals and the goals that were scored. I don’t see that changing, with the Knockout Cup you have Glenfield who are going for three in a row and Forrest Hill who aren’t far behind in terms of strength and geographically are in very similar positions so I’m expecting a very even match up.”
In the Chatham Cup, Limna said it was obvious that Birkenhead were determined to go all the way this year after losing at the semi-final stage last season.
“They were very unlucky not to go through last year losing on penalties so I think they’re extremely hungry to get their hands on that trophy this year. Then you have Waitakere City who are already crowned NRFL Division 1 champions and have promotion to the NRFL Premier Division next season whilst going unbeaten all year. They are a club with a strong cup history and it’s obvious they fear nobody. You’re going to see history in the making because its unique, you have four sides from Northern for the first time so we’ll have to wait and see who gets their names on the trophies.”
For a local Northern Football fan, you could not have written a better script. Limna is hopeful that the entire Northern and Auckland football community will come out in numbers to witness one of the great days on the NZ Football calendar.
“I hope the whole football community is going to turn out, to witness this great spectacle. It’s a fantastic opportunity to showcase the game and the talent which we saw over the weekend. It was end to end football with lots of goals and we’re going to see the same in the final. I hope we can get a great crowd for this occasion.”
The NZ Women’s Knockout Cup final will be held at 12pm at QBE Stadium and will be followed by the Chatham Cup Final at 3:30pm.
National Cup Finals – Staged at QBE Stadium in Albany
Chatham Cup Final
Birkenhead United v Waitakere City 3:30pm
NZ Women’s Knockout Cup Final
Glenfield Rovers v Forrest Hill Milford United 12pm