After a disappointing regular season, the ACG Parnell 1st XI Football team headed out to Papakura to partake in the annual secondary schools’ tournament week. This consisted of five days packed with football games against some of the best teams from Auckland and farther afield. Unfortunately, we were drawn in the ‘Group of Death’ with three contenders in our group. Despite losing several key players before the tournament began to injury and other commitments, we were eager to participate.
The action for our boys kicked off on Monday 3 September against Fairfield College, from Hamilton. An early mistake at the back let their striker clean through and put us on the back foot. However, we quickly responded, tying the game. Although we had many strong chances to steal the game, we were unable to convert; sharing the points.
Later that afternoon came a game against Rotorua Boys, one of the strongest teams at the tournament. Going behind early we leveled the score with a great team goal. However, we conceded a few goals during a period of heavy hail, during which other games were called off, resulting in a heavy loss to a quality opposition.
The next day we played out a close 3-2 loss against Sancta Maria. We then came up against Albany Senior High School, taking the initiative through a great solo goal by Oscar Yee. Unfortunately, we were unable to hold them back, succumbing to another heavy loss. The next day group play was concluded with another heavy loss at the hands of Waitakere.
We then entered the playoff stage of the tournament against Kelston Boys, who play in A1, three leagues higher than ourselves. After conceding three early goals the outcome looked bleak, although we were playing very well. We came out hungry in the 2nd half, scoring three quick goals as we pushed forward. Sadly, they scored again, and we were unable to equalize as we pushed forward, leaving with a disappointing result but a great performance.
Our penultimate game came against Cambridge, a fierce and physical competition throughout as neither team was able to break through and only a few chances were earned. However, in the dying minutes, our super sub, Danny, broke onto a ball over their backline, calmly faced their goalkeeper and slotted the ball into the back of the net. Earning us our first win of the season.
On the Friday, the last day of the tournament, we came up against Whakatane. The game could not have started much worse for us as we conceded two early goals. However, we fought back, a through-ball to the nimble Rahul and a great finish put us on the comeback trail just before half-time. A questionable call from the referee earned us an indirect free kick in the area, which our vice-captain, Hugo Kazenbroot-Phillips, slotted into the top corner. More dead ball excellence came later as we were awarded a penalty and a chance to take the lead. We grasped it and never relinquished it as we won 3-2.
The tournament was a huge success for our team as we competed well with some of the best from both in and outside of Auckland. It was extremely enjoyable, and we hope to go back next year to improve on our result.