HB Knockout Cup final, Soccer
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a gold coin in the soccer boot.
If it sounds suspiciously like sweet somethings uttered before a marriage made in heaven it's because that is in many ways what it'll be before today's men's Hawke's Bay Knockout Cup soccer final.
When the something old (Geon Taradale) run on to Petane Domain, Eskview, to face something new (Promotem Napier City Rovers) for the 2pm kick-off, something Blue (Rovers coach Terry O'Neill) will be the only common denominator regardless of who will prevail a shade before 4pm if the game doesn't go into extra time and penalty kicks.
O'Neill, and please don't ask him how old he is, has coached some of the Taradale seasoned campaigners such as player/co-coaches Warren Gilbertson and Robbie Parker, Dean Johnston, Wayne Atkins, Adam Turner, Perry Cotton, Chris McIvor and Richard Gearey.
The 2006 Watties Volunteer Coach of the Year was at the helm of the Taradale AFC Central League side when most of the players were still pupils at Taradale High School.
"From there, some of them went on to Napier City Rovers to play in the National League," O'Neill said last night.
Stressful is how O'Neill sees his role today when he watches his former proteges take on his current crop of talent in a clash of the Pacific Premiership teams looking for their maiden gold "in the boot".
Developing as a coach, O'Neill feels adopting a philosophy is vital.
So what's his philosophy?
"I'm a purist so I believe you have to be technically adept before you can be tactically adept," he says, emphasising players need to learn the art of basic drills such as passing, trapping the ball, heading and chesting.
"Tactically, it becomes a skill when you can use it on demand in any given situation.
"Having a bit of heart, of course, is also important for success as it is in any other sport."
O'Neill believes good people make good players and considers himself privileged to be part of moulding players to become better humans.
For someone who has coached pedigree goalkeepers such All Whites Mark Paston and Football Ferns Rebecca Rolls, O'Neill says he hasn't had one-to-one sessions with today's Rovers keeper, Jonty Underhill.
The Nick Matheson-captained Rovers and the McIvor-skippered Dale will also play in the Federation Cup (knockout) final next weekend.
Gilbertson, a Napier graphic designer, laughs when asked if both sides have a chance to clinch a gold medal even if they miss out today.
"We've never won it but we got to the final last year and everything that could go wrong went wrong," he said.
Midfielder Jimmy Cudd was sent off as they finished 90 minutes of play without scoring against Cru Bar Maycenvale United.
Dale lost 1-0 in extra time but it's "all a bit of blur to me now".
A former 250-match Rovers veteran, the 43-year-old moved back to his parent club five years ago to hang out with his mates.
Dale didn't enter the Fed Cup last year to avoid having a season that dragged on as it has done this winter.
Gilbertson fancies their chances in the cup games considering they only lost two matches in the premiership (league) - once to champions Jennian Homes Team Gisborne and at home to the Rovers.
Only three Dale players are under 30 - Kelvin Mills, Corey Jensen and keeper Chris Penny - while Kerry Bartlett is the oldest at 54.
"We won't be changing the way we play and both teams like to play football so that's why it'll be close and exciting," he said, expecting McIvor and Johnston to step up.
Having players who have competed at National League level, Gilbertson said they were adept at stepping up on the big occasion which was something the younger Napier boys would struggle with.
Matheson, who won't be playing at rightback today because of an ankle injury, said it was the first time in cup final for the young guns but they won't be shy.
"What we lack in experience we'll make up with enthusiasm and speed to get around the old fellows," the 28-year-old said.
Staying strong on the ball is vital for the Rovers and they would do that better today than they did last Saturday in their 1-0 win over an equally young Taradale AFC.
Last week, the Rovers had several players in the secondary schools' tournament at Park Island from St John's College, Taradale High School and Napier Boys' High School.
Matheson doesn't want the Geon Dale blokes to take it the wrong way but he likes to think the youthful Rovers are more skilful and fitter.
"Some of us play futsal so we're very good on our feet."
Brazilian striker Paulo Silva, who scored the 67th-minute header for the Rovers, should prove a handful for Dale provided the midfield keep putting those crosses through.
Matheson lauded O'Neill: "He's brilliant because it's not easy bringing the team together."
His Rovers team is a feeder team to the Napier club's champion Central League squad.