• Chatham Cup rivalry shows no respect whatsoever for history or even the clout powerhouses possess in the current climate.
• Napier City Rovers will be blissfully aware of that when they host Albany United in the knockout quarterfinals at Park Island tomorrow.
You see, that's the thing with knockout matches in the beautiful game — opponents seldom notice that ugly uppercut coming from the corner of their eyes until it's too late.
Let's take Albany United, for argument's sake, who Thirsty Whale Napier City Rovers will host at Park Island in a 2pm kick off tomorrow.
The Aucklanders are in the second division of the Northern Regional Football League (which includes the Auckland, Far North, WaiBop catchment area) — that is, two tiers below the premier men's grade.
Put another way, what can one deduce from a side who decked powerhouses Eastern Suburbs 1-0 on the road to the Chatham Cup quarterfinals.
To lend credence to such assertions, here are a few threads fans have exchanged on the New Zealand Football Twitter account where, under the headline of "Cup Crazy", the question is who are you picking for the final four?
The Kiwi Canary: "All the home teams with the exception of Bay Olympic."
Ian Quintal: "I reckon Albany to do the bizzo over Rovers."
The Kiwi Canary: "They have been on a run since I saw them demolish Claudelands Rovers 11-1. Could be the upset of the round ... "
In the other 2pm quarterfinal kick-offs, all of them today, Caversham host Bay Olympic at Hancock Park, Onehunga Sports welcome Wellington Olympic at Waikaraka Park while Melville United will gauge what Christchurch United have to offer at Gower Park.
So could it be the upset of the round?
The Blues, after a virus swept through their squad last week, are coming off a 2-1 defeat to Miramar Rangers in the Central League here last Sunday.
But the defending league champions had hammered current league leaders Western Suburbs 4-1 at Bluewater Stadium on July 7.
Having conceded ground to retain their league crown in the hopes of securing a double — league and Chatham Cup glory — the Bill Robertson and Stu James-coached Rovers belong to the gospel according to the global order that knockout footy is sexier.
Needless to say, if the Fergus Neil-captained Napier side lift the Chatham Cup on September 8 then every indiscretion this winter will be forgiven and forgotten.
It's not that the Blues haven't done enough. Any team will settle for a top-three finish in an elite winter league and the last eight placing in the national knockout competition as a hallmark of accomplishment, if not excellence.
"I think if you would have asked the majority of players before the season we would have said we'd want to win the cup more than the league and now all our focus has shifted away so we're going to focus on the Chatham Cup," says Rovers player James Hoyle.
"One thing the lads keep saying is to make it a memorable season rather than just an enjoyable one," says Hoyle, mindful they have shown consistency in the past three seasons in the Central League to claim the bragging rights twice in the past five winters.
"We want to show everyone in New Zealand what the old Napier was like — you know, quite dominant in New Zealand football that we're still a big club and winning that Chatham Cup's the biggest one you can win so we want to do that now," says the 23-year-old who is in his fifth season.
The cup also breaks the monotony for the Central Football campaigners playing the same foes in the Capital Football catchment area.
However, with the element of excitement comes the intrigue and equal doses of consternation on what the oppositions are all about.
"I'm not sure," says Hoyle when asked what he knows about Albany United. "I've seen articles on their striker who is the top goal scorer in their division and is dangerous but I'm not even sure what his name is."
Former Team Taranaki player Damien Mosquera sticks out. The younger brother of former Bay United striker Thomas Mosquera has a penchant for scoring goals.
The Blues faithful will recall Damien scoring the winning goal for Eastern Suburbs in extra time of the cup final against the Rovers to claim a 2-1 victory in 2015, the sixth for the Auckland club.
But the sniper is centre back-cum-striker Jack Beguely who is their Northern league golden boot frontrunner with 25 goals and helped East Coast Bays lift the cup in 2006.
His brother, Tom, is Albany centre back tomorrow.
Albany club president Kieron Henare laughs at the suggestion his side is regarded as "sharks", to steal a golfing terminology, but confirms captain/goalkeeper Dave Masters' flagship team hope to claim the double this winter.
"As long as we hold our own, you never really know because it's cup football," says Henare, revealing friends and family here have kept them posted on the Blues.
Rookie flagship team coach Mike Anderson, a former club first team player who has replaced Tel Sheehy, mentors Albany who are third in the league but have seven games in hand due to the cup campaign.
Jack Beguely was among older heads who have returned to help rebuild Albany, savouring their best run in the cup.
Doing their homework led to ousting Eastern Suburbs, something Albany have done on the Blues after watching countless videotapes.
"We go to Napier every Labour Day weekend with our youth team to play in and near that stadium is just fantastic so to play in such a great venue — we just can't wait, really," says Henare.
Hoyle reckons the Napier coaching stable have done their due diligence in a bid to draft a blueprint to get the job done.
The Napier supermarket employee, who also mentors in school programmes, realises playing at cup intensity also doubles up as a scrimmage of sorts for Hawke's Bay United — or any other Premiership franchise team — co-coaches Robertson and Chris Greatholder scouting talent for the 2019-20 national summer league kicking off in October.
"Definitely. Of course we all know Bill quite well and CG from when he was at Napier as well so I'd love to work under them again for Hawke's Bay this [summer]," says the bloke who predominantly came off the bench under Brett Angell's regime but played for Hamilton Wanderers in the previous premiership season.
Having an affinity with the rest of the lads is a bonus but Hoyle knows familiarity isn't enough because Robertson and Greatholder will stash away such emotions in the winter duffel bags of the changing rooms at Park Island in the quest for finding a winning national summer league formula that has proved to be elusive so far for the Bay franchise.
"I know they are winners through and through so they won't be taking you through on a friendship basis."
Nevertheless, Hoyle is quick to point out the focus is the Chatham Cup now.
Rightly so because the annual anthem of creating chances will be out of tune especially if the Rovers fail to plant the ball into the net. The cup dreams will be shattered.
No doubt they are missing the prowess of Uruguayan striker Martin Bueno who had left in late June, with the club's blessings, for South Africa in the hopes of signing a playing contract in a lucrative league there.
The 2018 Central League golden boot winner had found the net 18 times and was among the frontrunners, if not the leader, of the race this winter.
However, the likes of Jonny McNamara (11 goals), Sho Goto (9) and Gavin Hoy (7) have shared the responsibility of scoring although their conversion rate must improve dramatically from tomorrow.
No excuses. If anything foragers will have to find a balance between pangs of selfishness and selflessness in deciding to pull the trigger or push the ball in the stock exchange to the next best teammate to boost the tally.
On the flip side, it's encouraging that Neil, Karan Mandair, Liam Schofield, Jamie Wilkinson, Andrew Abba and even bench boy Ethan Clarke have added a dozen goals between them although wing back Wilkinson is out tomorrow after picking up a red card (two yellows) for mindless fouls last Sunday.
Perhaps more important is Abba, who has made only seven appearances in 19 outings to date due to international duties for Solomon Islands, becomes a thorn in the Albany defence with his darting runs and oblique crosses although he needs to back himself with a few worm burners every time the window of time and space opens.
"The boys have been feeling good and raring to go for the Chatham Cup so everyone's happy," says Hoyle, revealing some of the players still trying to get rid off of the bugs in their system skipped Tuesday night training to ensure they didn't put others at risk.
He is delighted to see young Bay talent coming through at the club.
For the Englishman, securing his permanent residency will be on the top of the agenda after the summer league but he wishes to remain in the Bay.
• If you spotted Jamie Dunning having a quiet natter with Miramar Rangers coach Scott Hales in the dugout after the Central League match in Napier last Sunday then here's why.
Team Wellington mentor Hales has named Napier Marist coach Dunning as his co-assistant with Western Suburbs counterpart Ben Sippola, according to a posting on the national summer league side's Twitter account on Thursday.
Dunning was the assistant coach of Thirsty Whale Hawke's Bay United for the past couple of seasons but left this year after former coach Angell didn't reapply for the position.
"Scott and I share the same football philosophy so for the players it offers that continuity we're looking to maintain," said the Englishman on the Team Wellington website.