ASB Premiership Funbag: Could Southern United do a Leicester City?

By Niall Anderson, Steven Holloway

Ross Howard and Ben Harris contest for the high ball during ASB premiership Team Wellington vs. Southern United. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
Ross Howard and Ben Harris contest for the high ball during ASB premiership Team Wellington vs. Southern United. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

Time for your weekly edition of the ASB Premiership Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Today, the greatest goal in ASB Prem history, the biggest club slut and could Southern United do a Leicester City?

Your Letters:

Jimbo Gribble, Hamilton

Hi Guys,
Massive Fun Bag fan - keep up the good work.
Me and my mates were playing a game of "ASB Prem trivia" last Saturday night. The question came up - "which player has played for the most ASB/NZFC clubs?" Now, we're all avid ASB Prem watchers but this really had us stumped. We seem to remember a Snowy haired front man/left back that played for a few clubs around 2007-2012 - but couldn't remember his name. Can you help us?

Anderson: That player you were thinking of is none other than Ross McKenzie, who upon discovery halted my search rather quickly.

McKenzie had a remarkable run, playing for four teams in the span of three seasons, and throwing in a fifth club three years later. In between all that, he had a stint in Singapore, truly being a well-travelled footballer.

For the record, McKenzie managed to play for both Auckland City and Waikato FC in the 2006/2007 season, leaving Auckland after missing out on a Fifa Club World Cup spot to join Waikato - a trip coach Roger Wilkinson had made during the same season - before then leaving Waikato just over a month later to go to Singapore. What a season it was.

McKenzie then played for Otago United in 2007/2008, Team Wellington in 2008/2009 and Waitakere United in 2011/2012.

Although I said my search was halted, I ended up falling down an NZFC rabbit hole.

The only other player I found who could match McKenzie was Cole Peverley, who represented five clubs over a much longer time frame.

With the amount of players representing both Auckland and Waitakere, as well as making the trip down to WaiBOP or Wellington, plenty of players have represented three clubs, with a small few plying their trade for four teams.

When taking in O-League stints into account, Jason Hicks, Sean Lovemore, Bill Robertson, David Mulligan, Milos Nikolic and Ian Hogg have all been on the books of four sides.

Ross McKenzie celebrates signing for another club. Photo / Getty Images.
Ross McKenzie celebrates signing for another club. Photo / Getty Images.

Holloway: In direct contrast to all these club sluts, what a tremendous achievement it was for Jake Butler to play in his 200th match for Waitakere United last night. I was lucky enough to play a number of seasons with Jake and he has always been the epitome of consistency and professionalism despite his often amateur surroundings. A true Waitakere and ASB Premiership legend.

Statto, Hamilton

Was Brock Messenger's incredible outside of the foot winner in last week's Canterbury v WaiBOP game the greatest goal the ASB Prem/NZFC has ever seen?

Fast forward to 4.04

Holloway: This is a ridiculously difficult question to answer because so much of the competition was not broadcast on television, so I can really only rate it against the NZFC/ASB Premiership goals I have seen, but Messenger's strike would be right up there.

To even have the gumption to attempt an outside of the foot shot from 30-yards is one thing, to have the technique to delicately place the ball in the top corner, to win the game, in the last minute made it one of the all-time greats.

This mazy run and finish from Ryan DeVries (go to 1.54) would be up there, as would Jamie Duncan's goal from halfway for Canterbury in 2004 v Waikato FC. Keryn Jordan scored a beauty in the 2005-06 season against Hawkes Bay, picking the ball up inside his own half and dribbling at speed before calmly slotting it past the keeper and Sam Wilkinson scored a stupendous left footed 30-yard volley consolation goal in Waikato's 2-1 loss to Canterbury in 2004.

But I think I would rate Messengers above them all. What a goal!

From Ross, Dubai.

With Leicester city looking more and more likely to win the English Premier League this season, do you ever think that we will see someone like Southern United doing a similar type of thing in the ASB Premiership and what would Southern need to do to make that happen?

Anderson: I guess the closest we have come to having New Zealand's version of Leicester City is the few seasons early on when Youngheart Manawatu were a title contender - and if Manawatu can find a way to do it, you'd think it'd be in the realm of possibility for Southern to do it as well.

Of course, they would need some financial backing to overcome their most frequent problem, which is that the top, largely Auckland-based group of players would rather take less money to be somewhere closer to home, such as WaiBOP United or Hawke's Bay United.

However, if an influx of cash did come into the Southern region, or all the Highlanders fans decided they were bored with rugby and streamed into Southern's fanbase, it would be very possible for Southern to be a constant presence within the top four.

As numbing as Auckland or Waitakere winning the title every year can be, the fact that the playoffs are one-game affairs certainly gives hope that we'll see a new winner in the near future, and maybe Southern can one day be in that playoff mix.

Punter, London

There's been a lot of chat about 'pitch siding' in this season's competition but what's the difference between 'pitch siding' and people just relaying information to their betting websites?

Holloway: Here's what I think is happening. Betting agencies like Bet365 get most of their action from their 'live in-play betting' system. The bookies employ a contractor to go to the game and track the live action by either plugging the play-by-play match action into their ipad/laptop or communicating it back to head quarters through the phone. All legit, all above board.

When news broke that $50 million had been wagered on the ASB Premiership across a season, these contractors suddenly appeared a lot more suspicious and got labeled 'pitch siders'.

But, of course, I reserve the right to be very wrong about this.

From Lyle, Buller

I was watching the Super Bowl halftime show and I got thinking - who would participate in a halftime show during the ASB Premiership final?

Anderson: Ahhh, the ASB Premiership halftime show would be grand. There would almost certainly be some sort of school choir or dance group involved, and Bucket Man could provide the fireworks (Figuratively and literally).

As for music artists - I don't think New Zealand Football would branch out into reggae or hip-hop artists which rules out a bunch of options - a real shame because King Kapisi, Savage, Che Fu or all of them at once would make for a hell of a halftime gig.

They probably wouldn't have the cash for a Dave Dobbyn, Stan Walker or Gin Wigmore type either, so it'd probably be artists like Jamie McDell, the Feelers, Jordan Luck or That Guy From Auckland City Who Sings ACDC and Jimmy Barnes Songs At Halftime.

At worst, you would hope they could do better than the Wellington Phoenix and avoid the Topp Twins at all costs.

Phil, Wellington

Steve, your 10 best ASB Prem players of all time list was a shocker. Did you put any thought into it?

Holloway: Hi Phil, thanks for your feedback. Rest assured, this Funbag column isn't just thrown together last minute. Days, weeks and sometimes months are spent crafting answers to all your questions and my '10 Best Players' list was forged over a decade of evaluating talent.

But perhaps my writing wasn't very clear. My Top 10 NZFC/ASB Players of all time list was meant to reflect who (at the peak of their powers) was the best, and also who had the best career. It was a competitive list to break into and my mailbag was full of healthy debate with messages like 'You're a w*nker Holloway and you've got no idea. Why wasn't (insert name here) on your list.'

So, here are the names that got thrown at me, some of whom clearly never played in the NZFC or ASB Premiership, but made for interesting reading all the same.

Ivan Ruiz Diaz
Andreu
Adriano Pimenta
Lutz Pfannenstiel
Dean Gordon
Shannon Cole
Patrick Mbanda
Ricky Gillies

And I even got an email detailing the real stars of the New Zealand domestic scene from the good old days:

Sir Trevor Brooking (University of Auckland in our national league in the 1980's)

Former England international Mick Channon (Southampton and Manchester City) played for Miramar in 1985.

John Fashanu (Wimbledon (FA Cup winner 1988) and Aston Villa fame played for Miramar in 1982 and in the Chatham Cup Final.

Justin Fashanu: Former Norwich City and Nottingham Forest star played his last ever games in the NZ National League for Miramar in 1997.

Norwich City star Peter Mendham (211 Norwich appearances, League Cup winner) played for Miramar in the late 70's and again in 1981 on loan from Norwich.

Current Wellington resident and Kapiti Coast United coach Ian Porteous played 46 times for Aberdeen under Sir Alex Ferguson (European Cup Winners Cup winner 1983, Scottish title and cup winner) and 64 games for Kilmarnock and then other clubs, before immigrating to Wellington with his Kiwi wife in 1997 and playing in the NZ National League for Lower Hutt City.

John McGinlay: Played for North Shore in NZ National League in 1983-84 (24 games, 10 goals) before going on to play 192 times for Bolton Wanderers (118 goals - tenth highest of all time for Bolton) and thirteen times for Scotland (4 goals). Won the second tier in 1996-97 and was top goal-scorer.

Brian McAllister: won NZ National League with Napier in 1989 and then on to the English top flight with Wimbledon for a decade and three Scotland caps.

Patricio Almendra: Also played for Hutt City in the NZ National League with Porteous in 1998 after playing for Chile at u-20 level. Returned to Chile to play over 200 games in their top flight and appear in World Cup qualifiers for the national team in 2001. Played for the Football Kingz in 2002-3 before a few years in the Middle East and back to Chile's top flight and the last few years coaching.

(Hat tip - Peter Comander)

Got a question you want answered next week? Email Steven.holloway@nzherald.co.nz or Niall.anderson@nzherald.co.nz.

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