Fireworks, smiles and plenty of goals as Sunday footballers celebrate Finals Day

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Auckland’s Sunday league footballers have ended their 2022 in style — with a six-match finals day followed by a prizegiving function.

Main photo: Rapa Nui Manukau celebrate victory with their fans after winning the League Cup final.

Here’s how a memorable day rolled out …

By Richard Wright

The Auckland Sunday Football Association’s 48th season was concluded at Parrs Park, home of Oratia United AFC, on Sunday October 9, with 12 teams -— including the champions of all four ASFA leagues — competing in six finals, followed by the end-of-season prizegiving and feast.

Fire Kirin become back-to-back double winners

Fire Kirin 4
Greenhithe City 0

The 2022 Masters Cup final was first up, kicking off at 12.30pm on Parrs Park #1.

Fire Kirin FC, last year’s double winners and this year’s league champions, took on Greenhithe City FC, who finished the league season in 3rd place.

The first half was a tight affair with neither team managing to break the deadlock.

Fire Kirin took the lead early in the second half, and added a further three goals in the latter stages of the fixture, following a missed penalty by the Greenhithe’s Kevin Blakeman.

Fire Kirin, the back-to-back double winners, also walked away with the 2022 ASFA Fair Play Award, whilst their player-coach Dustin Xiao won the 2022 ASFA Manager of the Year Award. Final Score; Fire Kirin 4-0 Greenhithe City.

The spirit of Sunday football …

Fear of extra time sparks late winner for Old Fullas

Waiheke Old Fullas 4
Zamantix Rovers Masters 3

The 2022 Masters Plate final was contested on Parrs Park #5 by Waiheke Utd Old Fullas, the 2022 League runners-up, and Zamantix Rovers Masters, who returned to the ASFA in 2022 after a season away.

Unlike the Masters Cup final, this end-to-end game had plenty of first-half goals, with the sides going into the half-time break level at 2-2.

Waiheke, who only had 11 players available from the start, made it 3-2 midway through the second half, but Zamantix found an equaliser with not that long left on the clock.

The fear of extra time shone bright in the eyes of the Old Fullas as they took the ball back to the centre circle and within minutes of the restart, they drove forward and scored the game’s deciding goal.

League rivals face each other in League Plate final

Gurkha FC 1
University of Auckland 6

The 2022 League Plate final was played on Parrs Park #4 and featured Gurkha FC for the second time in succession.

In April, they lost out to Champagne Super Rovers, a team affiliated to West Coast Rangers.

This time they found themselves facing the 2021 Premier Plate finalists and Central United-affiliated, University of Auckland FC.

These two sides finished their 2022 Championship League seasons on the same number of points, having scored the same number of goals.

In the final, the UoA took an early lead, and never really looked like they going to lose it.

Gurkha did score the fixture’s second goal, but the game wasn’t level for long and the students were able to score another couple of goals before the end of the half.

In the second half, they were able to find the back of the net a further three times, including two goals in two minutes.

Rapa Nui support …

Flares, sirens and fireworks — Rapa Nui win memorable League Cup final

Rapa Nui Manukau FC 3
Sperm Whales 1

The 2022 League Cup final, played on the adjacent field to the Plate Final (Parrs Park #3), was a much closer affair, and played at a pace/tempo and with a passion that suggests the two sides, Rapu Nui Manukau and Sperm Whales FC, will both be competitive in the Premiership next season.

This was the second successive League Cup final for the Spermies, who defeated West Auckland United on the same field in the April fixture.

It was Rapa Nui’s first ASFA Finals Day and the South Americans appeared to bring half of South Auckland along with them for the occasion.

There were red flares, sirens and fireworks (both on and off the pitch). Rapa Nui even had their own Drone Cam, recording the action from high above.

It’s fair to say, of all the games being played across Parrs Park, this was arguably the toughest to call in terms of who was going to come out on top.

It was also the game most likely to require extra time, and possibly a penalty shootout.

The Sperm Whales, who made the headlines for their Chatham Cup giant-killing earlier in the season and finished runners-up to Rapa Nui in the Championship, silenced the crowded touchline midway through the first half by taking the lead.

It was 1-1 by the time the teams reached half time and Rapa Nui scored a stunning goal to give them the lead and send the crowd wild.

The Rapa Nui players and fans were also able to celebrate a third goal in the latter stages of the game as the Sperm Whales went looking for an equaliser.

Rapa Nui make it 3-1.

Indy make up for past disappointment on finals day

Independiente FC 4
Albany Green Machine 1

Golden Boot winner Matthew Shant celebrates the fourth goal.

The 2022 Premier Plate, played on the Artificial Turf (Parrs Park #6), featured another team returning to Finals Day for a second time in 2022.

In April, Independiente (Indy) were narrowly denied the league and cup double by local rivals Internationale (Inter).

On this occasion, having lost (again) to Inter in the Quarter Finals of the Premier Cup, Indy found themselves in the Plate final, playing against the 2022 League One Champions, Albany Green Machine 2.

AGM2 started the season playing in the league Cup, defeating Championship UoA in the Quarter Finals. But, following the withdrawal of their sister side AGM1, AGM2 were invited to take the vacant spot in the Premier Plate.

AGM2, who subsequently took out the League 1 title, losing only once (scoring 49 goals, conceding 6), grabbed this opportunity with both hands and comfortably beat Zamantix Rovers Return in the two-legged semi-final.

This time, Indy, who successfully defended their 2021 Premiership crown, losing only 2 league games in the process, looked in no mood to fall victim to a second consecutive Finals Day defeat.

Playing without two-time ASFA Manager of the Year Clinton Laing, the 2022 premiership Champions scored early doors to settle any nerves and dent the giant-killing dreams of an AGM2 side contained a number of players from the now defunct AGM1 side.

AGM2 were able to level the scores at 1-1, but Indy maintained their composure and were able to score three more times to kill the contest, including a penalty.

Extra time needed to separate evenly-matched Bohs and Inter

AFC Bohemian Celtic 1
Internationale 2
*after extra time

Finally, the 2022 Premier Cup final, which kicked off on Parrs Park #1 after the conclusion of the Masters Cup final, featured Internationale FC, the 2021 Premier Cup winners, and AFC Bohemian Celtics 1, the 2021 Premier Plate Winners.

Inter, who also secured the 2022 Charity Shield earlier in the year, had a Premiership season that they would probably rather forget, finishing fifth out of seven.

Although Boh’s 1 only finished one place higher in fourth, they were nine points clear of their opponents and only a couple of points behind runners-up FC Eagles.

On paper, Boh’s 1 arguably went into the game as slight favourites, but — as Independiente FC discovered in April — Inter are a team that are incredibly tough to beat on ASFA Finals Day, and especially on Parrs Park #1.

With none of the other fixtures needing extra-time, however, the odds of this one being settled within 90 minutes appeared to be higher than usual.

As expected, it was a tight contest, in which Boh’s 1 probably had the majority of the possession and probably carved up a few more chances.

That said, clear-cut chances were few and far between and both teams could easily have gone into the second half, and subsequently into extra time, thinking that they were the stronger/better team.

It was 1-1 at half-time. It was 1-1 at full-time. The winner came in the first period of extra time, when Inter’s Mohammed Nazim Sharif broke free down the right flank and curled in a peach of a cross between the faultless centre back and helpless ‘keeper that landed perfectly on the head of Jack Tapsell, who in full flight proved himself fully capable to redirecting it downwards and into the back of the net.

Prizegiving awards

The post-matches prizegiving was once again MC’d by longstanding competitions manager Trevor Brook, whose resignation/retirement request after 25 years of service was cruelly denied by the other members of the ASFA Executive Committee, who would be lost without him.

READ MORE: Popular administrator steps down after 25 years >>>>

Independiente (Premiership), Rapa Nui Manukau (Championship), Albany Green Machine2 (League 1) and Fire Kirin (Masters) were all crowned 2022 League Champions, along with that afternoon’s six Cup and Plate Final winners.

The Premiership Golden Boot and Supreme Golden Boot awards were handed out to Independiente’s Matthew Chant, whose 16 league goals proved to be one higher than that achieved by League 1 Golden Boot winner, Ellerslie Tropic’s Luke De Ruiter.

The Championship’s Golden Boot was shared by three players; Sperm Whales’ Art Twigg, Viet Star’s Andrew Naicker and Rapa Nui’s Gonzalo Ceron, all of whom scored ten times.

Ten league goals were also enough to secure Waiheke’s Steven McClory the Masters League’s Golden Boot for the season.

Spermies Golden Boot winner Art Twigg taken on by two Rapa Nui players.

The 2022 Golden Glove Award went to Albany Green Machine 2, who conceded the least number of goals across all four divisions (six).

The 2022 Fair Play Award went to Fire Kirin, while Dustin Xiao, their manager won the 2022 Manager of the Year Award.

Finally, the 2022 Referee of the Year award was shared by David Gates and Jamie Mews; two men who came together earlier in the year to help ensure that the vast majority of ASFA Fixtures were officiated at a time when referee numbers are low and demand has never been higher (especially on a Sunday).

More information

Photos from the day will be posted to the ASFA Facebook Page, and website, during October 2022.

Those interested in registering a team for the 2023 Season, scheduled to kick off in April, should check out the ASFA website, www.asfa.co.nz or email ASFA Secretary, Richard Wright via [email protected].

More stories

READ MORE: Inter win Charity Shield >>>>

READ MORE: The last ASFA finals day >>>>

The Inter defence holds strong.

Results

Games played on Sunday October 9, 2022

Premier Cup

AFC Bohemian Celtic 1
Internationale 2
*after extra time

Premier Plate

Independiente FC 4
Albany Green Machine 1

League Cup

Rapa Nui Manukau FC 3
Sperm Whales 1

League Plate

Gurkha FC 1
University of Auckland 6

Masters Cup

Fire Kirin 4
Greenhithe City 0

Masters Plate

Waiheke Old Fullas 4
Zamantix Rovers Masters 3

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