2014 Elite Season Review
So our new management team of Dave & Adam have asked the team stalwart to do a season review of 2014 and give my take on things, as everyone is entitled to my opinion J
(And yes I will be referring to myself in the 3rd person from time to time, as Ganesy has done for the majority of the season)
I’ll be looking back at some of the season highlights, lowlights, the Good, The Bad & The Ugly and also player ratings as I attempt to review a successful 2014 season.
Going into the 2014 season we had the early challenge of replacing a few good lads from our 2013 squad who asked not to be considered for the new season.
A 4th place finish the previous season was a respectable finish in what was a very competitive grade. With the Elite having lofty ambitions for 2014 the recruitment drive was on.
Thru blind luck, shrewd manipulation and a few lads who knew a guy who knows a guy, we welcomed Declan, Todd, Damo, Nik & Andrew to the Elite roster.
With the squad coming together pre-season arrived and there was plenty of bodies turning up at Macalister Park on those lovely summer Wednesday nights with CJ putting the lads thru their paces to knock the off season cobwebs out.
The last man standing drill was particularly enjoyable for the lads I recall, notably Adam who always seemed to win. Unfortunately Crespo was not a big fan of this particular drill, I wonder why.
The successful 2013 formation of 3-4-3 was introduced to our new faces and over the pre-season games the team really started to gel. The system however was to be ditched early in the season to be replaced with a more balanced 3-4-1-2 system.
A big win over the Ladies 1st team was followed by a good win against Fowler’s mates the Karori Aces. The Tuataras looked to give us a game but came up short as did the Salmon. All 3 teams beaten convincing by the mighty Elite.
Our last pre-season game was a hastily arranged one by Crespo against the Tawa Devils from Cap 4. This was a good test of how we were looking for the upcoming season and like those before them they were dispatched and sent on their way.
There was a low point unfortunately, that of Crespo going off with what was to turn out to be a season ending ankle injury.
Overall the 2014 Elite season will be judged to be one of our better seasons in recent years. A 3rd place finish being great reward for a challenging and competitive season.
The Elite were to be challenged in the first half of the season with 7 of our first 9 games being drawn away from home.
A record of 5 wins, no draws and 4 losses saw us reach the halfway stage of the season in the top half of the table having scored 19 goals, conceding 14 with 2 clean sheets in Dave’s pocket. Considering the lack of home games a very strong return for the Elite.
The second half of the season was to be an entirely different challenge with some of the top boys in the grade having to turn up in Elite’s backyard.
Capital Football came to the party after a kind word from our Club Chairman which saw us play 5 home games in a row on the hallowed turf of Newtown Park.
A record of 4 wins, 3 draws with 2 losses for the 2nd round of matches saw the Elite finish 3rd having scored 20 goals, conceding 17 and Dave picking up another clean sheet.
The most pleasing aspect of the season was definitely our home record, which read:
P 9 W 5 D 3 L 1 GF 21 GA 13 GD +8 PTS 18
A couple of those draws could easily have been wins but still, any team would be proud of this home record.
Season Highs, Lows & The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
The 6-3 win against Naenae will be remembered for the mud, the Red Bull promo girls, CJ’s hat-trick and Niall’s goal (with the graceless knee slide but hey it was a good goal!).
However the best win of the season and most pleasing in my opinion was the 3-2 win over Olympic TFTs on Newtown Park back on the 14th June 2014.
After a goal-less first half, the Elite were to go 1-nil down to a penalty only for CJ to score a free-kick from distance to make it 1-all. Unfortunately CJ was to do a Stevie G soon after with a slip as last man which allowed the Olympic striker to run on thru and beat Dave to go 2-1 up.
The next 20 minutes was where the lads really dug in and were rewarded when a clearing kick from an Olympic corner was chased down by Andrew who ran on to beat both defender and keeper to get the Elite back on level terms at 2-all.
This was what the Elite needed and with Crespo making one of his rare appearances during the season, he was to win a penalty in the final minutes of the game to give the Elite a chance to win the game. After quite a bit of gamesmanship by the Olympic keeper, CJ took his own time to then bury the spot kick to make it 3-2 to the Elite.
As always a win against Olympic is one to savour but to come back from being down twice and keep the unbeaten record on Newtown Park going made this win my favourite of the season.
While we don’t like to dwell on the low points of the season, we must acknowledge the good with the bad and man were we bad away to Tawa Bears on the 10th May 2014 on what was a surprisingly good Onepoto surface.
A lack of cohesion, movement, control and Tawa contesting and winning the 50/50’s the Elite spent most of this game chasing shadows.
It was a very hard 90 minutes to watch from the side-lines for the injured lads of Stu, CJ & Damo with all three agreeing that this was the worse game we’d played all season.
The only bright spots in hindsight was our performance in the return leg at home that Tawa even acknowledged they were lucky to get a draw from and Tawa going on to win Capital 7 undefeated.
The One that got Away
Early in the season I think we’d all agree that we missed an opportunity to get at least a point away to Upper Hutt Saints out at Petone Memorial on a clear Monday night.
We also had the before mentioned 1-all draw against the Tawa Bears on Newtown Park in which we played some great football in complete contrast to the away leg and were unlucky not to come away with the 3 points in that one.
However the one that really stuck in the throat was the 2-2 result against Island Bay Dreamers on Newtown Park!
For 80 minutes of that game we dominated the Dreamers and we finally looked like we were getting one over them, only for us to fade in the last 10 with the finish line in sight. They only needed a sniff of a chance and unfortunately they took it.
This truly was one of those draws that felt like a loss.
Best Team Performance(s)
There were two standout “team” performances for me from the season.
The first was the game against Tawa Bears at Newtown Park. Considering how badly we performed in the away leg the lads really turned it around in this game and it really set the tone for the next 4 home games on Newtown Park.
The pre-match talk and challenge to the team from a couple of the senior Elite players was really laid down and that the “this is our pitch, our home ground and we don’t let teams dominate us here or lose any 50/50’s” speech was to be repeated time and time again to make Newtown Park our fortress.
The other was the last game of the season against Vic Uni Beavers. I think most of us would agree we didn’t really perform that well against these lads in the away game but I thought everyone turned up for this one and put in a real strong team performance. Again one we could have won if not for a couple of outstanding saves from the Beavers keeper.
The Good, the Bad & The Ugly
· The quality of football at times, both home and away.
· Our home record on the hallowed turf of Newtown Park and the drinking sessions that followed!
· The shear quality of the goals this season was outstanding! The goal of the season will be hotly contested this year.
· Our defence was a real strength this year and a big improvement on last season.
· Team winning the Club and Mid-season do Quizzes while enjoying ourselves greatly.
· The support from the WAGS, especially Sally & Libby who turned up for most matches regardless of the weather and adding plenty of banter to the post match sessions.
· The Onepoto graveyard! Two of our worst performances were on that bog of a pitch.
· Injuries to key players across the season. Some of which really impacted on our options across the park.
· Having our last home game of the season on Newtown Park being postponed and being rescheduled to a Monday night. Shame on you Cap Football!
· Dave’s disappointing write up L We expect better things from you Dave!
· The win against Naenae on Newtown. Nil-all at half time and a first half the Elite would prefer to forget! While we did eventually win 4-nil, that first half was ugly man!
· Pete and Damo’s biffo moments. Not really something they’ll be proud of and were rightly fined heavily.
· The number of sitters that were missed this season. A number of lads were to be slapped with the $5 sitter fine and were not their most crowning moments. Some were uglier than others but it happens to the best of them – I should know.
I felt my review couldn’t be complete without a rating and brief on the team’s individual performances over the season.
To ensure there was some impartiality to this, I invited my esteemed fellow Wednesday Club member Niall Jessiman to join me in completing this as we mulled over the season with plenty of Tuatara Pilsner to help the old grey matter.
Dave (7.5 / 10)
After the initial shocker of the infamous “Usher” incident in game 1, Dave had a solid season between the sticks. 3 clean sheets was a good improvement on last season as was his kicking out of hand. One of the newly anointed co-team managers, Dave’s penalty save against North Wellington was a highlight of the season. Unfortunately his anticipated write up wasn’t one of them.
Damo (9 / 10)
Our own little Godfather was to be a great addition to the team this year and really made left back his own, especially with Fowler leaving midway thru the season. While a goal was never in the reckoning, as he rarely ventured past halfway, he made up for this ten times over with some fine last ditch tackling on our own goal box. Just too many to choose one as his season highlight.
Pete (8 / 10)
Another whirlwind of a season from our own all action Jackson! Coming into the season a little late due to overseas work commitments, Pete was back to his own brand of football which mostly consists of all out running, heavy touches, heavy body contact and a new element this year, having the mickey taken out of him by Libby at the post match sessions. Love having Pete in the team, as the opposition hate playing him as he never goes away! This is where I should be coming up with a goal scoring highlight for you Pete but try as you might – its nudie run again fella.
Steveo (8.5 / 10)
Our resident hunter/gatherer was again at the heart of a very good defence this season. His partnership with Pete & Damo was one of the strongest combinations this season. A couple of goals this season capped off a very strong season for Steveo. No doubt his season highlight was his volley goal in front of his daughter at Newtown Park. He’s a seal...I know, I know!
Ganesy (7 / 10)
I’ve never meet a guy with so much gas J I lost count of the number of times someone’s speech was interrupted by one of Ganesy’s hearty burps! Always one for stories (and there were some real random ones) Ganesy had a bit of a breakthrough season for the Elite, having played some of his best football in our defensive midfield role with either Adam or Cory. His dummy run from halfway against Upper Hutt which threw fear into their defence and resulted in Stu’s corner kick going straight in was a season highlight.
Jas (7 / 10)
This was very much a season of injuries and fatherhood for Jas. While he’s the proudest father going around we didn’t get to see too much of Jas this season. However when there Jas was his usual dependable self, designated goal kicker and even had a couple of cracks at goal this season that may have gone in seasons past. Season highlight was clearly the birth of his baby boy!
Fowler (8 / 10)
Another solid season from Fowler before he headed off for his overseas trip. The recipient of most of the early season fines, Fowler continued to bring balance to the left hand side of the pitch but clearly missed his unique onfield connection with Crespo. His regular Facebook photo posts of his cheesy smile around the world ensured he wasn’t forgotten.
Johnny (Not Rated)
Due to injury, Johnny’s role was to be pretty limited this season but no doubt a couple of his goal keeper appearances will result in him winning another “Cat” Elite award for save of the season. The couple against the Dreamers on Wakefield were highlights to savour.
Todd (7.5 / 10)
The team gangsta T-Pain was a welcome full time addition to the Elite this season after enjoying a good number of cameo appearances for the Elite in 2013. Able to play anywhere and tackle all day, T-Pain had a strong season for the Elite. While he wasn’t able to get on the score sheet this season, T-Pain was always one of the first names on the team sheet. Highlight was his improving banter at the post match sessions, bring it T-Pain.
Adam (8.5 / 10)
The other newly anointed co-team manager was to be very influential this season in his defensive midfield role. While his prancing at times leads to post match banter, Adam makes up for it in his tenacity and ball winning skills. A couple of goals at crucial times in games led to the Elite turning games around in our favour and helping to secure vital 3 points. Season highlight for me was his growing leadership around the park capped by his crucial goals.
Cory (7.5 / 10)
Always one to set the bar high for himself, Cory had another strong season for the Elite in tandem with Adam in the midfield. After a 7 goal breakthrough season last year, it was always going to tough to match that but scored a couple of crackers this season. While we give him plenty about his glass ankles, Cory doesn’t leave much in the tank each and every week. Highlight was his goal in the last game of the season against the Beavers, what a great way to end the season. We go again!
Nik (8.5 / 10)
The team popstar Macklemore was another great addition to the Elite. After the early loss of Crespo, Nik was to own the left wing role and ran and ran and ran all day. He also didn’t mind throwing a few jump tackles across the bow of the opposition to add a little spice to proceedings. While a recipient of plenty of banter, Nik really embedded himself into the Elite this year. Highlight was his consistency all season. I don’t really recall too many bad games this season from Nik.
Niall (7 / 10)
A bit of a season where injury limited Niall’s minutes but when called upon played well on the wing or in the middle of the park. His willingness to give the foul away to halt the opposition’s flow was always appreciated as was his fashion sense. Demonstrated by the headband and wristbands in the final game. While the chop against Upper Hutt Saints wasn’t his greatest contribution, his 20 minutes cameo upfront against Naenae was certainly his crowning highlight. As he describes it, we were watching greatest that day my friends. While his goal was certainly great, the knee slide was far from it!
Decs (8 / 10)
Be it Dec, Decs or Declan, another fine full time addition to the Elite. On reflection probably played the most minutes on the park this season. His outstanding ability to link the midfield and strikers was to be a skill greatly needed with Stu limping out for majority of the season. We got plenty of talk from Decs this season and while most got to learn to understand Decs, Ganesy still struggles. Highlight was his ability to just keep playing to the end of games. Decs really helped keep the shape in the middle of the park this season and ensured we competed in most games. His post match warm downs made the team look like amateurs!
Marcel (7 / 10)
The Elite’s most capped player was to be another whose season was impacted by injury. Marcel’s energy and willingness to run anything down was missed at times during the season but when available he tore into the opposition with his usual tenacity. Season highlights was his improving distribution and man has he got that “two shin trap” down packed. You could learn a thing or two there Pete.
Crespo (Not Rated)
Due to his pre-season injury, this was a season that really didn’t get going for Crespo. While he managed to ensure he wasn’t going to be on the nudie run this season with an early goal, his loss was felt across the season when certain games called for a player with his ability to beat a man on the outside and deliver quality ball into the box. Highlight moment was winning the penalty against Olympic to give the Elite a chance to snatch the win, even if he didn’t go down.
Stu (Not Rated)
Another player that was missed this year when a calf injury put pay to his season. While Stu made a number of attempts to get back on the park, his own ill-advised assessment that he’d be back in 4 weeks and not 6 weeks as his physio advised was quite clearly wide of the mark. My finding of an article that referred to his injury as one suffered by weekend warriors still brings a smile to my face. Season highlight has to be his goal against Upper Hutt Saints straight from the corner kick. While Ganesy can take some credit, not too many players get to score in this manner.
Andrew (8 / 10)
After we were advised early on by Sally that Andy wasn’t going to be an acceptable abbreviation of his name on the pitch, Andrew was a welcome addition to the Elite for this season. After Crespo’s pre-season injury, we were looking very light on the striker front. After a golden boot season with Marist last year, Andrew agreed to don the Oranje for the Elite and was ever present all season. His strength and willingness to chase anything down even with defenders all over him was the difference at times in games. His highlights for me were his two cracking finishes against Scarfies at Wellington College and Tawa Saints on Newtown Park. Both goals were smashed pass the keeper who had no chance!
CJ (8 / 10)
Lastly we get to yours truly. Having asked Niall to rate my season, we both agreed that after a false start to the season due to a futsal injury and a pulled quad upon my attempted return, the second half of the season was where I was able to play my part in the Elite machine and contribute across the park. In a season that saw me hand the Elite torch over to Adam and Dave, I really enjoyed letting the reins go and just enjoying myself on the pitch. As such, this was one of the more enjoyable and successful seasons I’ve had with the Elite. Personal highlight has to be the hat trick against Naenae, which was all the more rewarding considering how hungover I was!
Anyway, that’s it, CJ’s take on the 2014 Elite season! Enjoy the Elite Awards lads & Club Prize Giving and we’ll see you again for another rollercoaster ride of Elite football in 2015.