By Richard Wright
Twelve teams, six finals, four pitches and all completed in about four hours — that was finals day at Parrs Park for the Auckland Sunday Football Association.
The all-action day finally settled the 2021 ASFA cup competitions held over because of COVID disruption last year.
The games were followed by a two-hour prizegiving and buffet dinner in which the Sunday version of the Beautiful Game was duly celebrated.
Finals day results
Games played Sunday May 1, 2022
The day’s final fixture saw Internationale (Inter) win their fourth Premier Cup, following a hard-fought victory over the 2021 Premiership Champions Independiente (Indy).
In doing so, Inter denied their local rivals from claiming their first-ever League-Cup double, something they themselves had achieved back in 2017.
Indy entered the game without Kurt Rains, the 2021 Premiership Golden Boot winner, and his replacements were guilty of missing a couple of clear cut chances in the first 45 minutes.
To add insult to injury, a stunning Inter strike from the edge of the box saw their opponents go into the break with a 1-0 lead.
In the second-half, some nice interplay down the left wing resulted in Inter doubling their lead via an own goal/deflection at the near post (one of those hard and low crosses that coaches love but all defenders hate).
Indy, to their credit, never dropped their heads and showed why they will once again be a tough team to beat this season.
The champions continued to throw everything they had at their tiring opponents and, with around 15 minutes to play, the Inter keeper was finally beaten by a looping header that narrowly evaded his upstretched hand and dipped just under the crossbar.
Try as they might, however, the impressive Inter defensive unit stood firm and Indy were unable to find an equaliser.
AFC Bohemian Celtic 4
University of Auckland 2
The 2021 Premiership runners up AFC Bohemians Celtic 1 proved too strong for the University of Auckland in the Premier Plate final.
Sperm Whales 3
West Auckland United 2
The League Cup Final was a tightly fought contest between Chatham Cup giant-killers the Sperm Whales and the 2020 Masters League Champions West Auckland United.
The ‘Spunkies’ showed no signs of fatigue from their two fixtures the previous weekend, however, and were able to come back from 2-1 down against the Fijians to claim the Michael Trevor Jones Trophy with a 3-2 win.
Champagne Super Rovers 7
Gurkha FC 1
After a relatively even first half, a young Champagne Super Rovers side featuring a number of West Coast Rangers players proved too strong for Gurkha FC, winning the ‘Michael John Anderson Shield by six goals.
Fire Kirin 4
Waiheke United Old Fullas 2
The Masters Cup Final featured two teams hoping to secure the Stuart McMonagle Cup for the first time.
The Old Fullas started the strongest, deservedly opening the scoring in the 19th minute.
Going behind appeared to wake the 2021 Masters League Champions, however, and it looked only a matter of time before Fire Kirin would level the scores.
The equaliser arrived just after the half-hour and, despite both teams having no issues getting the ball into their opponents’ penalty areas, the teams went into the break with the scores tied.
The second half started in a similar manner to the first, with Waiheke looking re-energised and ready to take the game to their opponents.
The first goal of the second half had a hint of offside about it, but the flag stayed down and, with no VAR available, Fire Kirin found themselves behind on the scoreboard for the second time that afternoon.
Waiheke’s lead didn’t last long, however, and from being 2-1 up with around 30 minutes to play the Old Fullas soon found themselves 3-2 down and chasing an equaliser of their own.
Two goals in the space of five minutes was enough to turn this game in the favour of the league champions and, as Waiheke valiantly threw everything they had at their opponents, they left themselves vulnerable to the counterattack.
Fire Kirin’s fourth and final goal will surely last long in the memory of the man who picked up the ball on the edge of the box and, using both feet, beat three defenders before calmly passing it passed the Waiheke goalkeeper.
Serious FC 2
After extra time
in the only fixture to require extra time, Serious FC secured their first piece of ASFA silverware, beating U-Striker 2-1 to claim the 2021 Masters plate.
Individual and team awards
As is tradition, the ASFA’s annual festival of football concluded inside the Oratia United AFC clubhouse with a two-hour prizegiving and free buffet cooked up by former ASFA Exec member Ian Qunital (a man of many talents) that lasted several hours.
Having been on top of the league when the COVID Delta outbreak brought proceedings to a sudden halt in August, Independiente FC were awarded the 2021 Premiership trophy for the first time.
Their manager Clinton Laing also picked up the Manager of the Year Award for the second time, having taken a team that narrowly avoided relegation to the Championship in 2020 to the title (and almost the double) a year later.
Zamantix Rovers Return were awarded the Championship Trophy, having claimed the title over China Eagles FC by the narrowest margins in ASFA history (goals scored).
Viet Star were awarded the League One trophy and the Albany Green Machine finally got their hands on the League Two Trophy.
The Fire Kirin manager was the most frequent visitor to the front of the room, having already stepped forward to pick up the Masters Cup, the golden gloves and the golden boot award (on behalf of his players). His final visit was to pick up the Master League Trophy.
The league’s top scorers were also awarded their golden boots, whilst the players of the day from the twelve finalists all went home with one of day’s brand new Adidas matchballs.
The ASFA Fair Play award went to Waiheke United Old Fullas, a team that not only has to catch a ferry to all of its away games but also regularly helps transport their opponents to/from their home ground at the Onetangi Sports Park.
Finally, the Referee of the Year award went to NRF official Gary McIsaac.
2021 Premiership: Independiente FC
2021 Championship: Zamantix Rovers Return
2021 League One Trophy: Viet Star
2021 League Two Trophy: Albany Green Machine
Manager of the Year: Clinton Laing (Independiente)
ASFA Fair Play Award: Waiheke United Old Fullas
Referee of the Year: Gary McIsaac