By David Cross
New names, new players and a new competition provide the backdrop as Team Wellington renew their rivalry with Auckland City with an emotional return to David Farrington Park this Saturday.
Team Wellington open their home ASB Premiership campaign with a visit from perennial contenders Auckland City this weekend with both sides under-going significant change for the new season.
With Centennial Park renamed David Farrington Park in honour of the late great Mirimar stalwart, Team Wellington will line up with Auckland City in familiar surroundings.
Memories of Farrington will not be far from the minds of the home team as skipper Karl Whalen explained to www.asbpremiership.co.nz:
"Our new home ground of Dave Farrington Park is a very special place to play football," Whalen said, "and we are itching to get out there and make it a fortress."
Patrick's words will resonate withfans who remember last season's abysmal home record that featured three defeats in a row, no goals for and seven against.
Coach Stu Jacobs, who has a fine coaching and playing record with Mirimar Rangers at David Farrington Park, said "As we all know David Farrington Park holds a very special place within the hearts of a lot of the local football public. I feel very honoured to be able to bring Team Wellington to Dave Farrington Park as our home venue."
Jacobs side has a very different field this season with a focus on players who have made a mark for Wellington sides in the winter season.
Four players from Central League champions Wellington Olympic and similar numbers from runners up Miramar Rangers provide the core with the experience of Wiremu Patrick, Karl Whalen, Phil Imray and the young but hugely experienced Michael Eagar leading the way.
Imray in particular will be looking for a strong season after a long term injury and he will be looking to get back to the form that earned him the Team Wellington NZFC Player of the Season two years ago.
Auckland City have also seen significant change in their squad. With club stalwarts like Keryn Jordan, Greg Uhlmann, Grant Young and Paul Urlovic all retiring and Ivan Vicelich playing in China it's been left to the club's youngsters to uphold Auckland City's winning reputation and they have started the season with wins in both the ASB Premiership and the O-League.
"We have some exciting new players and the style has continued from last year," Co-Coach Aaron McFarland said, "The likes of Phil Edginton are filling the boots of Ivan Vicelich and we have a number of others as well. I think it will take some time to really gel as a cohesive group but they are willing to work hard for each other which is the most important thing."
What may lure Team Wellington fans to David Farrington Park this weekend could be the return of some former Wellingtonians.
Costa Rican striker Luis Corrales is named in the squad and ex-Wellington Phoenix man David Mulligan is in excellent form in the seasons early hit-outs, scoring three goals in two games, all from free-kicks.
Team Wellington welcome Auckland City to David Farrington Park on Saturday 30 October, kick off at 2pm.
Pre-match entertainment can be seen at the Te Whaea artifical pitch with ASB Youth League action between Team Wellington and Otago United underway at 11:30am.
Karl Whalen will make his 90th career appearance in the ASB Premiership if selected. Mikey Halikias, Emiliano Tado, Hicham Kamri and Pomare Te Anau are in line to make their ASB Premiership debuts.
Auckland City captain James Pritchett will make his 91st career appearance in the ASB Premiership. Luis Corrales makes his first return to the club where he finished as ASB Premiership Golden Boot winner with Team Wellington in the 2008-09 season.
Team Wellington enjoyed a three match winning streak between 2008 and 2009. Wellington has lost both its encounters with Auckland last season.
Auckland City’s 1-0 away win over Team Wellington last season was their first such victory over the capital men since the 2006-07 season.
ASB Premiership - Week Two
Saturday 30 October, 2010
1- Phil Imray (GK)
1-Jacob Spoonley (GK)
2- Scott Robson
3- Jamie Duncan
4- Michael Eagar
5- Jamie O'Connor
6- Mikey Halikias
7- Wiremu Patrick
7-James Pritchett (C)
10- Michael Fifii
11- Andrew Abba
12- Emiliano Tado
13- Karl Whalen (c)
14- Hicham Kamri
12-Patrick George (GK)
15- Richard McLay
21- Pomare Te Anau
25- Scott Basalai (GK)