Someone at Park Island will have the task of wiping away the dust to accommodate a new trophy, after Bluewater Napier City Rovers added the Four Federations Cup to their Central League soccer title by beating Petone 2-1 yesterday.
Goals from Reiner Bauerfiend and Stephen Hoyle were enough for the win, which followed a 3-0 victory against the best team in the South Island, Ferrymead Bays, on Friday night and a dismal, goalless draw on Saturday against Hamilton Wanderers.
Having the best teams from the nation's winter leagues fighting among themselves at the one venue - Wakefield Park in Wellington - is a noble concept. However, the competition was weakened by several Wellington region teams declining the invitation to enter, citing tiredness and injuries, though Olympic made themselves unavailable because of a player's wedding.
The Rovers management entered with the highest intentions, it's just a shame they couldn't renew their rivalry with one of the league's top sides, or face Central United, the Chatham Cup winners and Northern Premier champions, Bay Olympic, as the Auckland region wasn't part of the concept.
Three games in three days is a tough regime, and it took its toll with Rovers' 15-man squad reduced halfway through after Jarrod Smith suffered a hamstring pull. Late in yesterday's game, Luke Chapman was involved in nasty clash, injuring his knee and being taken off to have a scan.
But the format wasn't something that Rovers coach Grant Hastings had any problem with, when asked if it was a tough challenge for his players at the end of the season.
"There is probably no other way of doing it, you couldn't do it over a week or a season as the travel demands would mount up.
"We play pre-season tournaments and that sometimes means three games in two days. The concept's perfect, but perhaps they could increase the size of the squads from 16 to 20, with five subs allowed," he said.
"We had two big wins, despite the schedule."
Furthermore, he dismissed any notion the tournament had been weakened by the decision of those teams who finished above Petone in the Central League to enter.
"We are the best team in this division, so even if the team who finished second competed, it's still the second best team in the league. Those teams were invited but it was their choice [not to enter]."
Hastings was delighted with the performance against Petone and the "big win" over Ferrymead Bays but, after the draw against Hamilton Wanderers, he turned to the bench and described it as "awful".
Rovers had the chance to win that match, with a Rudi Bauerfiend goal being disallowed, while Shaun Peta made a great save to prevent Wanderers' Jarrod Young scoring from the spot, after David Gearey was judged to have brought down a striker.
As Rovers were winning against Petone, Hamilton Wanderers defeated Ferrymead Bays to finish second. But the match was noticeable for an incident late in the game that resulted in Hamilton being awarded a penalty. Ciaran Aherne was so incensed at the decision he earned a second yellow by berating the referee, and continued to do so as he marched off in disgust, throwing his top away and banging the changing room door.
Capital Football says the Cup could become a pre-tournament competition to ensure the best teams are available.
Certainly, there are massive advantages by having the top teams in the various winter leagues competing against each other, and the Four Federations Cup has had a fine start, albeit not without its limitations. The main gripe is the format: three games in as many days at the end of the season is pushing the boundaries. The Auckland region, with its array of top-quality sides such as Central United, needs to join the party.
The sparse crowds were partly due to the lack of promotion.
Capital Football says this was due to the lateness in arranging for the Wellington side to enter, but even when that was completed there was no promotional or media buzz.
These are more than teething problems but the essence is there - the engine is in place, now let's give it a chassis.