Some of Auckland’s top footballers, past and present, came together at East Coast Bays to remember Paul Caunter in the best way they knew … a game of football played with fun, flair and in friendship.
Paul Caunter, a man with connections to many football clubs in Auckland and the North Shore, died in January 2022.
On Saturday, teams captained by his sons Louie and Jack met at Bay City Park for the second staging of the Paul Caunter Memorial Game, a fixture aimed at bringing the football community and friends together, and to raise money to support men’s mental health.
The invitational teams led by Louie and Jack included former All Whites, National League and Northern League players.
Many went the extra mile to pay tribute to Paul — former All White and television pundit Jacob Spoonley somehow played the early stages of the game and still got to Auckland’s Eden Park to report on the Ferns’ game against the United States.
For the Caunters, and East Coast Bays, it was a special day …
Main photo: The teams line up together, and remember their friend Paul Caunter.
Game played on Saturday January 21, 2023
Team Louie 2 (Rossi Nkoy, Sam Burfoot)
Team Jack 1 (Matt Wood)
Photo credits: Elliot Macdonald, Stefanie Rodarov and East Coast Bays AFC.
The match report
By Louie Caunter
My starting line-up and overall squad had a little more depth and experience than Jacks’s.
The likes of Alec Solomons, Sam Burfoot, Rossi Nkoy and Dan Morgan are all key players who currently play at a high level. I was also missing Joseph Dawkins and Ryan de Vries, two players that would have added even more quality to the side who were both overseas.
We set out in a 5-2-3 formation, giving the wingbacks a massive amount of time and space, and some freedom to get forward.
We controlled the ball in the opening minutes of the game, but we were unable to create anything or test Jacob Spoonley who was defending the goal for Team Jack.
About 10 minutes in, Brock Messenger burst past Dan Campbell and cut a ball back to Nathan Cranney, in acres of space, who seemed to have too much time and fluffed his chance.
Unfortunately, Jack Caunter collided with Harry Peters and took a nasty knock on the knee, meaning he was destined to coach his boys from the sideline for the rest of the game.
Midway through the first half, Dan Morgan picked the ball up just inside the opposition half and rolled it to Rossi Nkoy, who was lurking on the left wing.
‘Hearty tackles … and some quite comedic fouls’
Rossi drove inwards towards Oskar Farwell, before opening his body and curling the ball past Jacob Spoonley from just under 30 metres.
A couple of minutes later, Sam Brotherton rifled a shot which ‘keeper Louie Caunter helped over the bar at full stretch.
The hearty tackles continued, with players on both sides giving away some quite comedic fouls.
Five minutes before half time, Team Jack — wearing the Luton Town FC orange home kit — surged down the right through Liam Anderson, who then cut back to his brother, Jack Anderson, who was darting towards the six-yard box.
The pair were quickly smothered by white shirts, leaving them dwelling on what could have been a great link-up goal.
With the last play of the half, Liam Anderson cut a corner ball back to Brock Messenger who struck a firm low ball into Jack Anderson who redirected it well, but too close to Louie Caunter who made a good reflex save to keep his team in the lead.
Half-time: Team Louie 1, Team Jack 0
In the second half, the game opened right up. James Dunn, now in goal for Team Jack, fired an accurate side volley out to Liam Anderson who drove towards the penalty box and rifled a shot the wrong side of the post.
Not long after, Brodie Pool found himself in space in the opposing box but couldn’t squeeze the ball past the outstretched leg of James Dunn.
Jack Anderson had another attempt thwarted by an onrushing Louie Caunter when the striker broke away down the left wing. Maybe it was not to be for the young Anderson brother …
The energy really tailed off going into the last 20 minutes, with this being the first time some players had donned the boots in months.
‘A great game with some quality football’
Mickey Peters created a great opportunity which was cut across the box and subsequently saved well by James Dunn.
Oskar Farwell upended Alex Howard in an attempt to prevent the big centreback from entering his half, but it was not enough as he slipped the ball into James Anderson who cut back to Sam Burfoot, who made it 2-0.
Team Jack had the majority of the ball for the remaining minutes and were finally able to make their pressure count, as Matt Wood picked up on a loose ball inside the box and slammed it home in the last play of the game to make it a more respectable 2-1.
It was a great game with some quality football on display.
Team Louie successfully defended the Paul Caunter Memorial Cup, leaving Team Jack wishing they could have kept their captain on the field a little longer.
What the day was all about
Great football …
Paul Caunter Memorial Cup
2022: Team Louie 4, Team Jack 1
2023: Team Louie 2, Team Jack 1
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