Time for your weekly edition of the ASB Premiership Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Today, the unrecognisable Anthony Hudson, WaiBOP United and the worst team names in New Zealand Football.
ASB Premiership Funbag:
ASB Premiership Funbag:
Last night's televised match between WaiBOP United and Waitakere United was one of the most entertaining games, played on one of the worst pitches, I have seen at national league level. But for one disgruntled punter it was a night of terrible frustration.
The North Harbour Stadium security team were last night issued with strict instructions to be more diligent with their accreditation checks. Too many elusive spinsters had apparently weasled their way into last week's match, so a clear mandate was issued: no accreditation, no entry.
That didn't go down so well with All Whites coach Anthony Hudson who was turned away at the gate because he had no tags and was unrecognisable to the security team.
One onlooker described Hudson as "filthy" as he stormed off, but it's unclear if he was just popping to the car for the $15 entry fee or rushing home to catch the game on TV.
It's hard to imagine Steve "Shag" Hansen getting turned away from an ITM Cup match, or Stephen Kearney getting stonewalled by the Point Chevalier Pirates, but the whole setup at North Harbour feels a little like a dystopian nightmare, so it kind of makes sense.
But hopefully Hudson did manage to catch the action, because WaiBOP may have unearthed a couple of tidy Kiwis he hadn't seen before.
Anyway, let's get to the questions.
Ben, from Huntly
Hey guys, missed the game last night but was shocked to see the scoreline. Was 5-1 to WaiBOP a fair reflection? What the heck happened?
Holloway: What a bad game to miss Ben, it really was grassroots football at its best, and worst. Let's break it down.
The pre-match odds: The bookies had Waitakere as $1.75 favourites and WaiBOP as $3.60 outsiders. Based on Waitakere's performance against Auckland and WaiBOP's against Wellington, this line should have been a lot closer. But no one predicted the ferocity of the thrashing.
The score: 5-1 actually was a fair reflection but it could just as easily have been 8-4. WaiBOP looked like they would score every time they got within 30m of the Waitakere goal while Waitakere missed three clear cut chances they should have converted.
The main talking point: Unfortunately for Waitakere goalkeeper Simon Williams, two of his career lowlights were captured on national television. Williams had been exceptionally good in Waitakere's season-opener against Auckland City, but last night was equally bad. For WaiBOP's second goal he stood on the ball while failing to execute a pass out from the back - and Wade Molony scored, and for WaiBOP's fourth the ball went straight through his hands from a free kick.
WaiBOP: Take no credit away from WaiBOP, they announced themselves as title contenders last night. They were calm on the ball and produced signs of a really impressive passing game on a terrible pitch. But their biggest strength is in attack. With Molony, Mark Jones and Federico Marquez, WaiBOP have a perfect blend of pace, guile and composure in the attacking third.
Waitakere: Waitakere have recruited a lot of attacking talent in the off-season but it looks like they have left the defensive cupboard a little bare. The back four of Ross Haviland, Brian Shelley, Aaron Scott and Craig Wylie all had nights to forget but the team also played with a lack of structure and their passing was far too direct and often wayward. A lot of work to be done on the training pitch.
Pitch: Speaking of pitches, what the heck is going on with North Harbour Stadium? In the season opener they painted the field green (I'm not joking) to deceive television viewers, but I guess last night they couldn't be bothered. Stripped bare, the playing surface was exposed for all it's blemishes and it was frankly embarassing. But it did produce six goals and a thoroughly enjoyable match so maybe they're on to something.
Crowd: No official count but I think 400 would be very generous. Thursday night games at North Harbour were always going to be a tough sell, but it doesn't look great. We can't really be affording to turn people away at the gate either ...
Stat of the week:
Home advantage in the @ASBPremiership so far this season means diddly squat. Only one point recorded by home teams in six matches to date— Jeremy Ruane (@Scousek1w1) November 19, 2015
Glen, from Gloriavale
Is WaiBOP the most desperate name ever for a national league team - or at the very least, equally as bad as Stop Out (1970-80)? And is there a WaiBOP City lurking out there somewhere that requires the additional identifier of the United bit?
WaiBOP has become one of those names which I've written or spoken so frequently that I've lost all context for how bad a name it is, and now I have no idea whether it's cringeworthy or whether it's attractively different from some of the other bland team names.
Anyway, like it or loath it, at least it is quirky. I never understood Youngheart Manawatu, and I love that a team called "Olé Madrids" tried to enter the competition when it began - because clearly, 2004 Western Suburbs football had a touch of Real Madrid about them.
Additional mention to Christchurch club FC Twenty 11, whose name is so confusing that whenever I see the results in the paper I think that FC Twenty has scored 11 goals.
TANGENT: How has there not been a "WaiBOP" remix of Hansen's smash hit "Mmmbop"? It would be the worst thing on the internet and as an expert at creating bad internet things I think I might have to create this remix by this time next week.
As for City v United, well we have five United's to one City, so maybe they should have snapped up City. Or perhaps Auckland rule that name with an iron fist. To be confirmed.
Lofty, from Hamilton
Great to see the New Zealand Football Weekly programme emerge on Sky TV as the second most interesting development this season, behind Funbag. But in their highlights package of their feature match (WaiBOP v Wellington) the Talking Haircut front-kid forgot to show the really contentious bits about the big penalty shouts that everyone was discussing afterwards. Questions: How timid is that? Are we mature enough as football consumers to handle the controversial stuff? Will there ever be highlights in national league matches apart from goals?
Holloway: I'm going to let them off with a pass on this one. The editors had their work cut out slicing up five goals (and five replays) into a crisp little three minute package and only really made one mistake. They showed a highlight of a Saul Halpin shot (which wasn't a goal) instead of what appeared to be a stone wall WaiBOP shout for a penalty in the second half.
Waikato skipper Mark Jones did his best to bite his tongue in the post match interview, but referenced the ref's decisions and 'The Talking Haircut' also commented on WaiBOP's frustrations back in studio. So they should really have shown us the contentious penalty call that everyone was talking about.
But I actually thought the foul on the WaiBOP defender in the leadup to Wellington's second equaliser was the ref's biggest mistake, and they showed that three times (twice in slow motion).
The clips from the other matches were full of 'non-goal highlights' and I think they captured all the action perfectly.
It's early days for the New Zealand Football Weekly programme but I actually think it has gotten off to a really good start. They could improve the game highlights by ditching the live commentary track and replacing it with a narrated voice over ... and showing us all the key talking points.
But I guess I'm just so impressed that we have any coverage on TV that I find it hard to critique a show's editorial decisions. But we are mature enough for controversy and we do want it, so feed us next time please NZFW.
If the ASBP had a Homegrown (eligible to play for All Whites) vs Internationals match, how would the squads shape up? Could the Internationals win despite having to play an outfielder in goal?
Holloway: I started trying to put opposing XIs together to see if the Internationals would be so much better that they could get away without a specialist goalkeeper.
But as I was pondering Aaron Clapham's Homegrown central midfield partner (about 12 options), or whether anyone would make a fuss about the superb Mark Jones being in the team, I realised I had a trump card - Lewis Italiano is technically available for the Phoenix Reserves.
So yeah, the Internationals (or let's be honest, about eight Auckland City players and a couple of others thrown in) would probably win quite comfortably. Although it'd be unrealistic due to monetary issues, but it'd be quite a fun clash to see play out.
The NZF review highlighted that the ASB Prem draws crowds in the 100s not 1000s. So why are games being played at the spacious atmosphere drain of North Harbour?
Holloway: It doesn't look good does it? A match played in a 30,000-seat stadium with 29,700 of the seats empty. But it's all about compromises for TV. Sky and New Zealand Football wanted to broadcast live on Thursday nights, under lights and QBE Stadium was the cheapest, best option New Zealand Football had. But I don't think it matters where the game was played, a regular season, Thursday night ASB Premiership match was never going to attract 1000s, so better to take the hit of a few hundred by hosting at North Harbour and sending the signal out to a nationwide audience.
What day do the bins go out in Mt Albert?
Holloway: Hi Glenda, thanks for reaching out to the Funbag. Perhaps we didn't make ourselves clear but we are really only here to answer questions about the ASB Premiership, or football in New Zealand. While a case could be made that some of our answers are rubbish, it's not really our forte. Ahh stuff it, the Mt Albert rubbish day is Thursday, with recycling every second week.
The ITM Cup and domestic cricket competitions allows players to train and play as full-time professionals even though they attract tiny crowds and small TV numbers. They are able to do this because international TV money subsides the losses the competition makes. Although this is never likely for football, IF it was able to happen and there could be a six-month, eight-team national competition where players could play and train full-time, how much do you think the standard would increase?
Holloway: I think "significantly" is the answer - although it would take a while for New Zealand football to benefit from it.
I'd hazard a guess that the increased pay would lead to higher quality (and potentially more) foreigners joining the league, immediately raising the standard.
I'm a big believer that training trumps pretty much everything when it comes to player development, and the increased training time available would be a huge boon to younger players improving.
As a result, it'd take a few years before a significant change was noticeable, but the product on show would likely take the ASB Prem to a level where a large number of players could easily make the jump to international play or the A-League.
Got a question you want answered next week? Email Steven.firstname.lastname@example.org or Niall.email@example.com.
This weekend's fixtures:
Sunday: Hawkes Bay United v Southern United
Sunday: Wellington Phoenix Reserves v Auckland City FC
Sunday: Canterbury United v Team Wellington