Pigs and Rovers back for more

By David Ogilvie

Old Wanganui Masters Games football rivals ICPP and Napier City Rovers are lining up for another battle at the 2013 Games from February 1-10.

Napier wants to go one better than its second to ICPP in 2011 and former All Whites goalkeeper and current New Zealand Football chairman Frank Van Hattum says the quaintly named ICPP "is back to defend its [45-plus] title. Can't wait."

A word about that name - Van Hattum says, and who are we to disbelieve him, that ICPP stands for "the International Consortium of Potbellied Pigs".

They were all good players in their day but are now a little slower and clearly a little larger.

Napier City Rovers organiser Terry O'Neill says his team are ready and willing.

They can't toss in the odd international or two but half the team played senior rep football for Hawke's Bay in their time.

Napier have missed just two Games and enjoyed great success, winning three gold, two silver and two bronze medals at the 10 of the 12 Games the club have attended in Wanganui.

Mind you, they've been going up in the age groups, the same as ICPP.

"We started in the 35-plus, then the 45-plus and we're getting pretty close to the 50-plus," O'Neill said. "We've got three guys 46 and 47. Next time, we'll be in the 50 plus.

"We are predominantly club players, although we usually have two or three outside players. This time they're all from home."

O'Neill, aged 69 and the oldest in the team, is a midfielder now - "well, I go out there anyway!"

He and Graham Hill are the two original members from the days when the Napier Rovers and Napier City clubs first amalgamated.

Hill, a striker for many years, has won Golden Boot awards in every team he's played for, says O'Neill.

Six or seven of the squad have played senior rep football for Hawke's Bay and whether the Games also see former New Zealand under-17 player Karl Bauerfinde attend is up in the air at present - he's trying to get time off.

Van Hattum and Peter Verwey (the Golden Boot winner at the last Games) are the best-known names in the mostly Auckland-based ICPP.

Van Hattum has been here before, of course.

"I've been to three or four Games now and unfortunately the fact I cannot remember how many is probably because of the fantastic party times, great weather and comradeship.

"That, of course, keeps bringing us all back.

"It's a great opportunity to catch up with many past comrades and adversaries and the format for the football tournament is fun but competitive.

"Our team has no stars, just a bunch of former players, all now slightly rotund and jovial but still passionately committed to storytelling and embellished stories of past glories.

"The International Consortium of Potbellied Pigs is back to defend its title."

And will Van Hattum be standing between the goalposts as he once did so magnificently?

"No, up front, lurking."

Some 353 entrants have registered so far for football, with many more to come.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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