Cup football always finds a way of making heroes out of teams that are unknown or unfancied — and this year’s Chatham Cup will surely produce a new set of sides who’ll be remembered as giant-killers.
This year, 129 teams will attempt to win football’s oldest domestic cup competition.
But you’ll be forgiven if you’ve never heard of teams such as Zamantix Rovers Deuce, Sperm Whales or Ellerslie Tropics.
They are all Sunday social league sides aiming to cause an upset in the preliminary round to be staged over ANZAC weekend.
We’ve scrolled through the preliminary draw, looking for potential banana skins and we’ve identified three.
Banana skin 1: Zamantix Rogers
This is a Sunday league outfit that has fielded men’s teams since 1995 and, more recently, a women’s team.
Zamantix Rovers Deuce face Te Atatu in the preliminary round and will aim to at least match the club’s giant-killing exploits of 2019.
In that competition, Zamantix Rovers beat West Hamilton United 5-2 at their Michaels Ave ground, fighting back from 0-2 to cause one of the round’s biggest upsets.
That earned them a first round tie at Hibiscus Coast’s Stanmore Bay Reserve.
The Sunday leaguers turfed out Lotto NRFL side Coast 2-0 thanks to goals from Michael Benner and Jack McCartney.
The Zamantix dream came unstuck in the second round when Franklin United beat them 2-0.
Te Atatu play in the NRF Championship, one division below the Lotto NRFL second division in northern football’s pyramid.
Banana skin 2: Sperm Whales FC
Northlanders must have wondered what they had landed when they saw who FC Whangarei had drawn in the preliminary round.
Who the heck are Sperm Whales FC?
They’re an Auckland Sunday League social team who play at Seymour Park.
The official website of the Auckland Sunday Football Association lists their home strip as ‘tbc’, and their away strip ‘tbc’.
But they’ll have their day of potential cup glory when they north to face Whangarei FC who play in the Northland Community Division 1.
Sperm Whales are already on a cup run, carried over from last year; on April 24, they play in the semi-finals of the 2021 ASFA League Cup, against FC Khukuri, at Parr’s Park.
Whangarei enjoyed a cup run last year when they beat Puhoi in a penalty shoot-out, when drawing 3-3 after extra time at the Puhoi Domain. The Northlanders had led 3-1 with 10 minutes of normal time left and coughed up two late goals to almost exit the competition at the first stage.
That win led to a round 1 tie against Navy at Auckland’s Naval Sports Complex. Whangarei won 4-2.
Whangarei then drew Lotto NRFL division 1 side Waiheke Island in the second round, and crashed 12-1 before catching the ferry back to Auckland.
Banana skin 3: Ellerslie Tropics
The Tropic are another Sunday League side with a successful record in knockout football.
They were the ASFA Plate Champions in 2020 and they’ll play in the semi-finals of the delayed 2021 plate on April 24, against Champagne Super Rovers.
In the prelim round, they head to Hamilton’s Northern United, a multi-sports club whose first team play in the Waikato Division 1.
United have a track record in cup football, winning the Waikato Cup in 2016 when coached by former All White Mike Groom.
Can the Tropics return to Auckland with a ticket into the first round proper?
Anything can happen in a game of football …
Full preliminary draw
Fixtures to be played on ANZAC Day
Te Awamutu AFC v Lakes Football Club
West Hamilton United v Whakatane Town
Otorohanga AFC v Waiuku AFC
Central United v Matamata Swifts
Northern United v Ellerslie Tropics
Papakura City v Ranui Swanson FC
FC Whangarei v Sperm Whales FC
University of Auckland FC v Otumoetai FC
Papamoa FC v Papatoetoe AFC
Drury United v Kerikeri FC
Onerahi v Lynn-Avon United
Uni-Mount Bohemian AFC v Ngongotaha AFC
Waikato Unicol AFC v South Auckland Rangers
Zamantix Rovers Deuce v Te Atatu AFC
Puhoi Sports Club v Mangere United
AFC Bohemian Celtic v Taupo AFC
Woodleigh FC v Whanganui Athletic
FC Western v PN Marist FC
Naenae SC v Paekakariki SC
Wellington Marist AFC v Greytown FC
FC Nelson v Golden Bay AFC
Richmond Athletic v Mapua Rangers
Western AFC v Universities AFC
High School Old Boys v Waimakariri United
The following teams have a bye to round 1:
Albany United, Auckland City FC, Auckland United, Bay Olympic, Beachlands Maraetai AFC, Birkenhead United, Bucklands Beach, Cambridge FC, Claudelands Rovers, East Coast Bays, Eastern Suburbs, Ellerslie AFC, Fencibles United, Franklin United, Hamilton Wanderers, Hibiscus Coast, Manukau United, Manurewa AFC, Melville United AFC, Metro FC, Mt Albert Ponsonby AFC, Ngaruawahia United, North Shore United, Northern Rovers, Northland FC, Onehunga Mangere United, Oratia United, Takapuna AFC, Tauranga City, Tauranga Old Blues FC, Waiheke United, Waitemata FC, West Auckland AFC, West Coast Rangers, Western Springs, Brooklyn Northern United, Havelock North Wanderers, Island Bay United, Kapiti Coast United, Lower Hutt City, Isles Construction Massey University, Miramar Rangers, Napier City Rovers, North Wellington, Petone FC, Seatoun AFC, Stokes Valley, Stop Out, Tawa AFC, Upper Hutt City Football, Victoria University, Waikanae AFC, Wainuiomata AFC, Waterside Karori, Wellington Olympic, Wellington United, Western Suburbs, Burwood AFC, Cashmere Technical, Christchurch United, Coastal Spirit, Dunedin City Royals, FC Twenty 11, Ferrymead Bays, Gore Wanderers, Grants Braes AFC, Green Island, Halswell United, Mosgiel AFC, Nelson Suburbs, Nomads United, Northern AFC, Old Boys AFC, Otago University, Parklands United, Queens Park, Queenstown AFC, Roslyn Wakari, Selwyn United, Tahuna FC, Wanaka AFC.