Time for your weekly edition of the ASB Premiership Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Today, Chris Wood's wacky voting at the Ballon d'Or, the worst kits in the league and, er, the most fun walks in Auckland.

Your Letters:
From Gary, Napier:
What the heck was former NZFC striker Chris Wood up to with his Ballon d'Or votes? Was he taking the piss?
Holloway: Who in their right mind would think that Kevin De Bruyne was a better footballer in 2015 than both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo? All Whites captain Chris Wood of course.

Wood used his three votes as New Zealand captain at the prestigious Ballon D'or ballot box like this. 1. Robert Lewandowski 2. Paul Pogba 3. De Bruyne.



There are four possible reasons why Wood omitted two of the greatest players the world has ever seen, who are currently in their prime, from his vote.

1) He's voting wacky to make some sort of political statement because he disagrees fundamentally with the premise of the award, like Arsene Wenger.
2) He's best friends with Lewandowski, Pogba and De Bruyne.
3) He's morphed into some kind of ultra-cool, hipster, knows better than the world, football judge. "Yea man, the sponsors and the money making corporates want you to believe Messi and Ronaldo are good, but De Bruyne is the truth."
4) He's taken one too many elbows to the head.

There's also no excuse for All Whites coach Anthony Hudson to leave Messi out of his top three. Hudson voted for 1. Ronaldo 2. Alexis Sanchez and 3. Paul Pogba.

Thankfully, New Zealand's media representative Gordon Glen Watson had his head screwed on straight voting for 1. Messi 2. Ronaldo and 3. Neymar.

I understand that voting is a purely subjective business and there are no right or wrong answers but Wood and Hudson were clearly wrong here.

From T. Cooper, Wellington
Can you give us your thoughts on the kits this year. Surely WaiBop can't claim a worst name, worst badge, and worst kit treble?

Personally I subscribed to the 'look good, play good' theory, but HBU's away kit is a travesty. And who decided on the placement of the front of shirt sponsor for their home kit?
Anderson: There will be no famous treble for WaiBOP - their colour clash might be a bit dodgy but at least they have regional significance and the kit itself is fine.

As expected though in a semi-professional league, the kits aren't all that flash, with several very bland offerings.


Let's start with the good - Auckland City and the Phoenix Reserves both have classic colours and a crisp strip. Waitakere and Team Wellington have nice home strips but their largely plain-white away kit is rather bland.

Speaking of bland, Southern United's away outfit of plain white from head to toe is as lacking as their results, with Southern's all-blue home strip giving them the ability to be decked out head-to-toe in the same colour at all times.

While it doesn't look terrible (merely boring), some unfortunately timed photos can make it look like they're wearing some form of jumpsuit or pajamas.

Now, we get to the two weird kit choices. While I admire Canterbury from going away from the norm, their striking, traditional red-and-black combination is contrasted by a strange collar, which I can't decide whether is refreshingly unique or taken straight out of the 70s. Have a look for yourselves.

Canterbury's collars - yay or nay? Photo / photosport.co.nz
Canterbury's collars - yay or nay? Photo / photosport.co.nz

Whether you like it or not, it is definitely streets ahead of Hawke's Bay, whose all light-blue change strip has no sponsor, yet it still less interesting than their home kit.

Hawke's Bay's home colours are iconic, but it looks like they've gotten to the ground and realised "Shit, we forgot our sponsor!" and went and hastily glued one on, ruining the vertical stripes.

"That glue is working like a charm! (S/o to Westshore Beach Inn for their free publicity) Photo / photosport.co.nz

The stomach region is definitely an odd place for your main sponsor.

From Philip, Northland
Now that we're halfway through the season can you rank the five top standout performers so far in the competition?
Holloway: It's nice that we are actually able to do this kind of thing now. Two games live a week and a highlights package means our Player Power Rankings aren't 80% based off reading media releases. So, here goes.

1. Micah Lea'alafa - the best and most exciting player to watch in the league. Full of pace and trickery but with the final product to match. Should be at the Phoenix.
2. Aaron Clapham - Mr consistent. Canterbury haven't lost a game where Clapham has been fully fit. The best midfielder in the league.
3. Takuya Iwata - Every time I watch the Japanese left back play I think he's A-League level. Great feet with good distribution and decision making, he is the left sided outlet that helps control Auckland's possession game.
4. Mark Jones - The best of WaiBOP's dangerous attacking quartet. He has pace, an eye for goal, a hot temper and an impressive work ethic.
5. Ben Harris - Coming straight out of Nelson, this 25-year old English import is the golden boot leader with six goals in five games and looks the real deal.

1. Micah Le'alafa - The most dangerous attacking threat in the league, with a real chance of cracking the A-League. People don't seem to realise that he's not a "promising youngster" - He's 25 and this is his time.
2. Mark Jones - If Anthony Hudson's strategy didn't involve picking 19 year olds to debut, Mark Jones would have been in an extended squad or NZ A team by now. The most committed player in the league, will give you his all defensively and has an array of skills going forward.
3. Andre De Jong - Clapham's partner in crime deserves credit too - four goals and playing some top football. A bit surprised he hasn't cracked the Alex Rufer/Matt Ridenton class at the Phoenix, but maybe he can fill in for Fred in the commentary booth instead.
4. Ben Harris - The star of the Isthmian League for Hampton & Richmond Borough is now scoring for fun in the ASB Prem.
5. James Musa - I like Musa's style, and he's not only one of the better centre backs in the league, he's chipped in with three goals as well.

Video of the week:

From Ryan, Toronto:
Dear Funbag,

The 5-5 Hawke's Bay v Phoenix Reserves match was entertaining in a car-crash kind of way. And WaiBOP's 4-3 win over the Wellington Phoenix Reserves was the same. But in terms of central defenders it was like watching Abbott and Costello versus Laurel and Hardy with all those laughable close-range tap-ins. Where are the decent central defenders in the ASB Premiership?
The good news is the ASB Premiership is an exciting league to watch. There have been 102 goals scored across 28 games in this season's competition, averaging out at 3.6 goals per game. The bad news is a lot of these goals are the result of poor defending.

But who are the good defenders? Auckland City trio Angel Berlanga, Mario Bilen and Takuya Iwata are the three best defenders in the league, Canterbury's Tom Schwarz is a dependable stopper and James Musa is having a good season at Wellington.

But arguably New Zealand's two best amateur defenders have taken the summer off. Former All Whites Tim Myers and Ian Hogg would stroll into any franchise, if they could be bothered, but it appears they both have different priorities this summer.

From Elsie, Auckland
Where are some fun walks in Auckland?

Hmm, it seems confusion has struck again. I really can't stress this enough, the Funbag is for football questions only. ASB Premiership predominantly, New Zealand Football at a stretch but rubbish days, walks or any other Agony Aunt type queries are not what we are about.

Having said that, I was recently impressed with the Dingle Dell trail in Saint Heliers but Kitekite Falls takes the cake. A beautiful waterful, mixed terrain, a challenging walk and a real spiritual retreat. Maybe take your boots...

Justin, from Auckland:
Dear Funbag

I see mid-table Waibop United were on the tele again last night, playing against Southern United, again. That means six of their seven matches have been live on television, and I am not sure that they are that interesting. Is there such a thing as over-exposure on TV for modest-performing teams?
Anderson: Coming into the season, I expected the big ASB Premiership games to rate reasonably, but feared that displaying games like Hawke's Bay v Phoenix Reserves or WaiBOP v Southern would lead to very poor ratings (And you know how much of TV is about ratings these days.)

Well, the opening televised game was as good as you'd get in terms of potential viewership - Auckland City taking on Waitakere United, and it rated terribly - being the third-lowest viewed product on SKY Sport 3 for that day, despite being a near two-hour long broadcast.

At that point, I realised any hope for ratings was going to be misguided - but in terms of WaiBOP, their games average nearly four goals a game, so while they might not be as interesting as the big-name teams and players, at least they're providing a bit of value.

And in the end, that's the ASB Premiership's calling card. Maybe a lot of modest teams get air time, but at least there will be goals.

(Hey NZ Football - consider that for a potential slogan next year. I've even made you a logo. Enjoy)

Holloway: WaiBOP are ok, but three live Southern United games in a row has hurt my eyes. I have now seen enough Southern United games to last a lifetime. Please don't put them on tele anymore.