KIWI KEN tells us about being a Poolie in New Zealand

Been awhile since being a MB contributor, not a problem when I was in the Great Smoke but being on the other part of the world here in NZ it sort of makes life a bit difficult to put down a few comments or even string a story together regarding the lads.

So I will just waffle and give a brief rundown, not a missive about life outside of the real H’pool team.

When I landed here 2003 I noticed all these amazing car number plates… thinks... so how to go about it? I eventually found the web site that allows you to do the necessaries ( for any out there that fancy a bit of fun). I looked for MERVYN but some bugger had it (I recently checked and note it is up for grabs now at NZ $2,500, about £1,250) so my next obvious choice was HANGUS. Yeahh!! and I have carried it from car to car since, with a bit of subtle advertising. It now sits on the mid-life crisis motor, a Nissan Skyline Coupe 350GT (V35), 280 bhp, and thirsty as hell.

It is a beast, but great for overtaking, especially on these NZ roads where we ain't even got dual carriageways outside of cities, (100k people to be classed as a city), just the odd overtaking lane and loads of creepy crawly drivers. NZ drivers have to be some of the worst drivers in the world, but then that’s another story."...imagine a country consisting of two islands about the size of UK with 4.2 million people and only one football team!"

So what do I waffle on about, well it’s gotta be football, but not football as you might know it. Close your eyes and… open them and imagine a country consisting of two islands about the size of UK with 4.2 million people and only one football team!!! You read right, only one football team. Loads of Sunday kick-abouts but only one league team.They are known as the Wellington Phoenix and are based in - would you believe - Wellington, and their ground is called the Caketin (Westpac Stadium).

The team was resurrected by a guy named Terry Serepisos in 2007 after the NZ Knights collapsed in 2006/7, hence the name. Stories within stories, everyone knows of Alan Sugar with the Apprentice, well Tel boy did a NZ equivalent a few years ago. However far from being the successful entrepreneur Al was, Tel ended up owing the tax man millions and he was eventually bought out last year thus ensuring The Phoenix survived yet another period. See, Pools are not the only ones with tales of woe.

They are my team of choice, if you can call it choice, and they play in the A-League which is Oz land based. 10 teams are in the A-League and the Phoenix end-of-season average position ends up about 4/5. No famous players as such, although we had Chris Greenacre, (ex-Tranmere) last season and currently Paul Ifill of Millwall, Sheffield U. and Palace fame - Mr Twisty Face, the lazy bugger, but he can score on the odd occasion, very popular over here. Then a couple of years back we nearly got Joel Porter when he left Pools.

The fans are called the Yellow Fever and can make a bit of a noise (Kiwis here really do not know how to support en masse not even rugger!!!) but the Fever don’t do a bad job. They are famous for taking their tops off if they are in the lead at 80 mins, women in their bras can’t be bad, well most of them!!! You thought Torquay was a bad away match to get to, imagine having to fly to Australia, bit of a bugger eh!

The season officially starts Oct 6th and we start off at home to Sydney. Friendlies, as a pre-season build up... well we played the Newcastle Jets recently and got beat 3-1 away after being one up. Their player kicked the crap out of our player and got sent off, so the ref decided to send two of ours off to balance things up half way through the first half. Then in the second half he decided to send off the captain, neat. Eight against ten, bit of a struggle. This was a friendly. Now the weird part, we are now off to India to play another four friendlies. Bloody India, and you thought Holland was bad… Ricky Herbert is the manager (he was the one to get us into the last World Cup), and all the matches/teams are shown live on TV once a week, home and away,  which is nothing to grumble about.

My Poolie fix has to be all the evening kick off matches (nine as it stands now, plus one after the Orient thing) when I can listen live in the morning here on Pools World (11hours difference). I am a diehard but getting up in the middle of the night is pushing it a bit. I ain't got the nonce to work out how to record the matches in the middle of the night so as I can get up and listen to them first thing Sunday morning before reading the results. Does anyone out there has any helpful advice?

I reckon if the lads ain't lost their way too much by the end of October (some tough matches) we could be in with a steady season, however with a 0-0 and a 2-0 start to the season, I would say the Orient match was a good result. The lads just don’t seem to have the same big heart as Cooperman, and all the early season hype ain't happened. Is there some stuff going on behind closed doors that us ex-pats don’t get to know about?

Change of tack, I saw Stevie Howard at Luton when he left Pools (remember those days) and he was a changed man, not a carthorse anymore, he didn’t need the full length of the pitch to get into top speed and he was like a leaping salmon, head and shoulders above our lot. Just hope he can bring that back, it was awesome to watch. Where is Stevie's link-up gonna come from, or is it the thump the ball up the field and hope format? Come on lads, give the supporters summat to get excited about. I paid my dues to Pools World but am buggered if I am going watch other teams beat us, I want me money’s worth.