Warkworth’s Dave Loader.
After being knocked down six divisions last season, Warkworth Football Club’s fortunes have seen a complete turnaround. It now has a healthy squad and wins under its belt.
The club had been struggling to play at the highest division, the Conference League. Then, when Covid-19 hit, the club was unable to field the required number of players and was forced to exit the league.
This season, the club started with a loss, then achieved a draw, and followed it up with a stunning 10-0 victory against the Te Atatu Wild Stallions.
It has placed Warkworth right in the middle of the standings table of the Northern Region Football (NRF) men’s Harbour Waitakere division six.
Coach Jacob Paul says the club has benefited from new players who have moved to Warkworth and wanted to get involved with a football team. The squad has 16 players and nine of them are new.
He says it took a couple of matches to become accustomed to one another, but the team has found its momentum.
“Everyone is working hard for each other and backing each other up. There is a balance of accountability and support,” he said.
At the time of writing, Warkworth’s most recent game was a 5-2 victory against the Northern Rovers – a team two divisions above Warkworth. In that match, new player Mike Jackson scored a hat trick.
It was part of the NRF Men’s Knockout Cup, which includes all registered teams in the Auckland region.
Paul concedes that dropping divisions has proven beneficial for rebuilding the club.
“Since we are not focusing on just staying in the competition, we are able to focus on who we want to be as a team,” he says.
“Being smoked every week is not beneficial to anyone.”
However, Paul says the club is still eyeing a return to the top level of play.
He says the hope is to build a pipeline from Mahurangi College into the club’s first team. There is an under-17s team at the college, which is showing a lot of promise.