Growing up with the Nix
I barely even remember a world without the
Wellington Phoenix in it.
Growing up as a kid in Nelson in the
2000’s, a big part of my life was football. But back then it was simply about
playing the game. Kicking a ball around with mates, making mortal enemies out of
kids on the opposition I’d never even spoken to, and considering games against
class mates to be amongst the biggest derbies around.
I knew that football was massive around the
world. At trainings everyone would have different clubs shirts on, Man Utd,
Liverpool, you know what its like. I thought I knew what this meant. When I was
probably 7-8, I remember my parents buying me an Arsenal shirt - my first ever
football shirt. I hardly ever took that shirt off, but do I support Arsenal
now? No. Anyway that’s not hugely relevant. I guess what is relevant is the limited exposure to the world game I had at the time.
Fast forward to sometime in 2008, when my
parents subscribed to Sky Sports. Suddenly football as I knew it took on a whole new
Enter Wellington Phoenix.
I got hooked pretty quickly into watching
Phoenix games. Here was a team I could relate to, a team in a city only a half
hour flight away. The rest is as they say, history. The introduction of Paul
Ifill, the World Cup Qualifier in 09 (my first trip to Wellington and the ROF),
and of course the 09/10 finals run, had totally captured me. For the next 6 or
so seasons I hardly missed a game on TV, and got to see a handful of home games
when I managed convince Dad we should ‘go up for a game’. The Phoenix had
taught me passion, and given me heroes.
So many friends don’t understand why I have
been supporting them all these years (and still don’t). I think it was those
first couple of years that did it for me. Once a club is ‘your team’ in this
way, it doesn’t leave you, no matter what position on the table.
Earlier this year I moved to Wellington to
start University. This has been a move I’ve been looking forward to for years.
Being able to watch the boys and stand amongst the Fever more than once a
season, and experience that game day rush of adrenaline, game after game. To read that this club could soon cease to exist is so hard to take, because for
me, it has been a huge part of my childhood. Since I’ve been old enough to
somewhat understand the general football set up, both in NZ and around the
world, the Phoenix has always been a part of it. I’ve been waiting for years to
finally be a regular visitor to games. If I’m honest I feel robbed, but this
isn’t about me.
In no way do I even try to comprehend how
massive this is for those directly involved with the club, fans who have been
there since the start, and you Fever faithful who have put so much time and
effort into what makes the Yellow Fever brilliant.
It just kills me to think that in the
future, young footballers in this country might not have the chance to view
this level of football on their own doorstep as I have, and really experience
what its like to support a club and attend games, and so on. The pathways are so
clear for young players now, and it would be a disaster for a massive part of
that to disappear. In the same sense, I also feel really privileged that I have
grown up in an era where professional football has existed in NZ.
Anyway that’s enough from me, this is long
enough already. Whether I have even summed it all up for me in this, I don’t know.
Most likely not. All I know is I’ll be there supporting this club, whether it
be until the end of this season, 2019 or onwards.