By Matt Hunt
By October, you may be forgiven for thinking the winter football season for 2023 is over … but not quite.
Oratia’s Parrs Park was once more the place to be as the Auckland Sunday Football Association (ASFA) held its Finals Day with six matches contested on Sunday October 1, 2023.
Main photo: Goalmouth action between Bohemian Celtic and Sperm Whales (pink) in the ASFA Premiership Final.
The first game of the day was a special match to commemorate Greenhithe City FC, one of the founding members of the ASFA.
The Half-Centenary Bowl duly saw the Masters team from Greenhithe thrash Nishin Evergreen 9-0 in a rather one-sided game.
Masters Cup Final
The Masters Cup Final was a much more closely fought affair.
New Masters league champions Waiheke Old Fellas completed their double with a narrow 2-1 victory over league runners-up Zamantix Rovers.
The men in Blue may have only grabbed a consolation goal, but the islanders were pushed all the way to hold on.
Championship/League 1 Knockout Plate
The Championship/ League 1 Knockout Plate final paired up two League 1 teams in league winners, AUT FC and 3rd place Rapa Nui Forza.
Though many expected it to be a hard game to call, it was the students who nudged ahead early and kept the eager South Americans out.
A second goal late sealed the win as AUT FC won 2-0 to complete a double.
Championship/League 1 Cup Final
The Championship/ League 1 cup final was played between the top two sides in the Championship in first-placed Albany Green Machine and second-placed AFC Bohemian Celtic 2.
In what was arguably the game of the day, this was true see-saw match with AGM 1-0 up in moments.
The Irish came back and were leading 2-1 before the half-hour mark.
Then AGM hit back 2-2. They missed a sitter and had a penalty saved before conceding a free kick that superbly dispatched over the wall for a half-time 3-2 score in the Boh’s favour.
AGM came back strongly and the pendulum swung back, 3-3 and then the winner to take home the Cup 4-3 and grab the double!
Premiership Plate Final
Another candidate for match of the day was the Premiership Plate final between Zamantix Rovers and bottom-placed Independiente FC.
Independiente came back from 2-0 down on 70 minutes with two goals in the last eight minutes to stun the Blues and win the game 3-2, with a brace from Matthew Chant.
ASFA Premiership Cup Final
The final game of the day was the ASFA Premiership Cup final, which saw league winners AFC Bohemian Celtic take on a team with a recent history of cup upsets in the form of Sperm Whales FC.
A great game from both teams saw Bohs lead early but be pegged back by half-time.
The Irish stepped up the pressure and walked away with the Premiership league and cup double courtesy of a 4-2 win and a brace from Man of the Match Rory O’Sullivan.
It got the ASFA historians thinking: has there ever been a year where all the cup winners were in fact double winners?
One to ponder as the ASFA wraps up its 49th season and prepares for their own half-centenary next season.
2023 award winners
Referee of the Year – David Powell
Fair Play award – Waiheke Old Fellas
Manager of the Year – David Rosenberg
ASFA Premiership top scorer – Michael Hawthorn (Zamantix)
ASFA Championship top scorer – Mathew Widdows (AGM)
ASFA League 1 top scorer – Alexander Weedon (Colo Boys)
ASFA Masters top scorer – Nick Annear (Zamantix Masters)
Overall ASFA top Scorer – Nick Annear (Zamantix Masters)
ASFA golden glove – Albany Green Machine (AGM)
Past ASFA Finals Days
Matt Hunt is the chairman of the Auckland Sunday Football Association.
Acknowledgement: All photographs supplied by ASFA.