Joseph Moore has been trapped inside The Wellington Phoenix for his entire adult life. Before this season began he presented a compelling five point argument in an attempt to get others to join him. (NB: one of the points is ‘Friendship’).
Pre-season is hell. It’s been a few months since the mighty Wellington Phoenix last kicked a ball in the Hyundai A-League and honestly, I can’t understand how the rest of you cope. I assume, like myself, you’ve been doing whatever it takes to get your ‘Nix Fix. Personally, I hitched a five hour ride to New Plymouth in a car full of strangers, ate some bad New Plymouth nachos, spent a night throwing up in a New Plymouth hotel, before cleaning myself up in time to sit in a rainy stadium with about 500 other people to watch the heroic Phoenix take on the villainous “New Zealand A” in a haphazardly slapped together friendly match.
They lost 2-1 in front of a huge crowd. At least I got to see them. Not to worry, though, the return of the A-League is fast approaching and looking as exciting/potentially disappointing as every season before.
Maybe, just maybe, you are one of the approximately 4.45 million New Zealanders yet to catch the Phoenix bug? Maybe you’ve got all the games recorded on MySky and haven’t got around to watching them yet? Or maybe you didn’t know about them, because you’ve never made it through the eight stories on the Sports News regarding what movie Dan Carter watched on the plane to South Africa that they show every day before mentioning the Phoenix? Or maybe your heart does not truly know how to love?
Either way, since there is literally nothing happening in the world of sports between now and the Phoenix’s first game on October 11, I thought I’d use this time to provide some scientifically sound reasons why you support this important and legendary team.
1. It’s Soccer – But at Normal Person Time
Whenever I tell fellow soccer fans that the Phoenix are my favourite soccer team (I say “soccer” sorry, I value being specific over being a dick), they are quick to respond: “But who is your real favourite team?” Presumably asking me which team of guys in Europe are my favourite guys. I don’t know, mates? Ask someone who lives in Europe. I might hitch rides to New Plymouth with strangers, but I don’t get up at three in the morning to watch sport like some sort of sociopath. With the New Zealand and Australia-based Phoenix, you don’t have to get any laws changed to watch ’em live at the pub. You will, however, have to get the channel changed – the pub definitely isn’t showing the game by default.
2. The Whole Team Are Kiwi Legends
While other clubs in the A-League go to lengths to recruit ruthless goal scoring Terminators such as Melbourne Victory’s cheating-mastermind Besart Berisha (a man so villanous I refuse to submit a photo of him without photoshopping on an eye patch), the Phoenix have since their inception maintained a well upheld “no dicks” policy. Despite over half of them coming from outside the country, it’s resulted in a team full of guys that epitomise the Kiwi Legend, i.e. likeable, good hearted, and adorably bad at social media.
Just check out devastating Dutch midfielder Roly Bonevacia posting an accidentally sideways baby announcement on Instagram, or Fijian striker Roy Krisha and Spanish technical-wizard Albert Riera interviewing each other for YouTube whilst avoiding eye contact with the camera at all costs. Or best of all, the stoic captain Andrew Durante somehow transcending this mortal world to end up in Shortland Street’s fictional town of Ferndale to visit Pixie Hannah in hospital. If only Pixie had kept up her love of the Phoenix, and not gone off cavorting with Harry Warner, things might have ended quite differently for her.
How good are IRL friends? Do you want more of them? Well nothing brings actual humans together like being the the three guys in the shitty Viaduct Sports Bar nervously waiting in the corner, hoping that that the bartender puts the Phoenix on at least one of their fifty screens. In eight seasons I have made up to five (5) real life friends from either online Phoenix forums, carpooling with them to obscure games, and loitering around the same sad pubs. I even went to one of their weddings, where I wore Wellington Phoenix cufflinks. (One of two pairs of Wellington Phoenix cufflinks I own – the other I am saving for my wedding, which will only happen after the “slippery slope” legalises polygamy and I am able to marry the entire Phoenix team at once).
4. They Are Fashion Icons
There is no doubt that the Phoenix don the sharpest uniform in NZ Sport. That crisp banana yellow. That piercing black. The boys take to the field each week like 10 very handsome bees. This year they’ve even opted for a slick, black away shirt that has Batman style searchlights on it. Unlike the notoriously uniform-fickle Vodafone Warriors, the Phoenix seldom wear cash-grabbing one-off kits. And when they, they are designed by PETER JACKSON HIMSELF.
5. They are the Only Thing on SKY Sports Anymore
It seems that over the last few years, Sky Sports’ business model has become “lose the rights to everything expect for the A-League”, which is entirely understandable, as you need nothing else to justify the cost of Sky in your home. So keep that remote locked on Sky Sports, or Sky Sports 4, or Sky Sports Pop-Up number 7, or wherever they’ve dumped them in favour of kayaking replays.
So now you are a fully fledged Phoenix fan. What can we expect from the upcoming season? Will this finally be the year they finish higher than fourth? Will the new singing player who posts lots of Hillsong quotes on Twitter be a success? Will the selectors for the Spanish national team stop sleeping on Albert Riera and finally pick him to be their new captain? We’ll just have to wait and see. I look forward to bringing you weekly Phoenix coverage for The Spinoff throughout the season, with approximately this amount of actual football analysis every time.
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