The blue-and-white champions banner was already made, the medals strung and stacked and the trophy had pride of place on the table at the tunnel well before the season-ending final whistle in Napier today - such was the belief in the host.
The Thirsty Whale-sponsored Napier City Rovers didn't disappoint their legion of singing-and-chanting fans when they beat Wairarapa United 2-1 in the final round 18 Ultra Football Central League match at the Bluewater Stadium in Park Island.
It was a match befitting a league-crowning moment as the jubilant players warmed the cockles of the hearts of Rovers faithful who had erupted into celebrations that carried on well into the changing rooms and, no doubt, late into the night into the clubrooms.
For the full match report click here to go to Hawke's Bay Today.
It's helter skelter as Rovers midfielder Sho Goto (No 7) tries to drill a shot past Wanderers player Jorge Akers (No 19) in Napier. Photo / Paul Taylor
"Havelock North have certainly earned our respect today and if the season hadn't gone this way they would have been more comfortable," said the centreback of the Ethan Dent-captained side who he felt had made incremental improvements throughout the season.
"They have become a much more difficult side to beat so they've earned respect from myself and, I'm sure, some of our other players as well," he said.
The league crown contenders play Lower Hutt City away at Petone Park on Saturday next week before finishing their campaign a fortnight later in hosting Wairarapa United on Saturday, August 18, in the league's bid to ensure all games finish on the same day.
The Blues maintain their three-point lead after defending champions Advanced Electrical Western Suburbs, sitting in second place, came from 1-0 down to beat Stop Out Sports Club 2-1 with the winner coming a minute into added time.
To read the full report from Hawke's Bay Today by Anendra Singh click here.
Napier City Rovers striker Martin Bueno (left) and winger Wesley Cain emulated their feat from Park Island when they scored against Wellington United at Newtown Park. Photo Hawke's Bay Today
Striker Martin Bueno takes every opportunity he gets but Napier City Rovers player/coach Bill Robertson doesn't want anyone to lose sight of what goes into creating that.
Click here to read more at Hawke's Bay Today
Martin Bueno (on knees) celebrates his second and Rovers third goal yesterday. Photo/Paul Taylor
Way to bounce back from a horror weekend Napier City Rovers!
"I asked for a reaction after the disappointment of last weekend and got the one I wanted ... we're back on top now. You must remember that Rangers team was a lot better than the one we beat 4-1 in April because a lot of their Team Wellington players are back now," elated Thirsty Whale Napier City Rovers player-coach Bill Robertson said after yesterday's Ultra Football Central League round 11 3-1 win against Miramar Rangers at Bluewater Stadium.
Click here to go to Hawk'es Bay Today to read the full report.
Waterside Karori humble Central League leaders Napier City Rovers in Wellington (Hawke's Bay Today).
Martin Bueno, the Central League golden boot leader, was the one to get on Napier City Rovers scorecard from a penalty kick.
From where coach Bill Robertson is standing today's shock loss at Karori Park, Wellington, was again another exhibit before the court to declare that anyone can beat anyone on their day in the region's premier winter league.
Thirsty Whale Napier City Rovers succumbed to a shock 3-1 loss to Integrated Works Waterside Karori in round 10 of the Ultra Football Central League.
Click here to read full report at Hawke's Bay Today.
Was it a case of super boots or suspect defending after Napier City Rovers out gunned Wairarapa United in a high-scoring affair in Masterton tonight?
The Thirsty Whale-sponsored Rovers pipped the hosts 7-5 at the Masterton Memorial Turf under floodlights in round nine of the Ultra Football Central League.
"I think it was a combination of both things," said Blues player/coach Bill Robertson on the way back home after the James Hoyle-captained side came from 4-3 down at halftime to claim three points for the league leaders enjoying a five-point buffer.
To read the whole report click HERE
Napier City Rovers midfielder Sho Goto's English is, let us say, elementary at best but it hardly mattered because in 62 minutes on the park he didn't require words to dismantle Havelock North Wanderers today.
The Thirsty Whale-sponsored Blues, sporting a black-and-white away strip for the first time this season, predictably hammered Building King Wanderers 6-1 on a sunny but breezy day when a decent crowd had gathered at Guthrie Park.
To read more click here.
Contributors Jerome Brown, Richard Gearey and Stu Wilson
Duke of Gloucester Napier City Rovers and Thirsty Whale Premier Reserves sit top of their tables after going undefeated in the opening rounds of their respective league campaigns.
NCR Prems kicked-off their Computer Care Pacific Premiership crusade at Bluewater Stadium with a 4-0 win over Gisborne Thistle. Goals from Leighton Ross (2), Chris McIvor and Dan Ball secured the three points for the Blues. In Round two The Prems defeated Taradale away, with a double from Dan Ball and a goal by Chris McIvor sealing the game and ensuring the top of the table spot.
Coach Stu Wilson says he is impressed with his team's start to the season, and with a mixture of youth and experience in the squad he's happy with how things are shaping up so far.
“Two games, two wins, two clean sheets. We’re playing good football and developing youth with a splatter of experience,” says Wilson.
Last year’s League Champions Thirsty Whale Premier Reserves got off to a flyer this season. In Round 1 they played Hastings Hibernian at Park Island and it didn't take long for the goals to flood in.
Man of the match Phil Dol scored a hat-trick from left back, while Dan Ball netted three, Stu Wilson, Finn Smith and Sam Slater two-a-piece, and one each from Willie Stanger, Jasper Vowden and Richard Gearey rounded off a 15-1 demolition of the Hastings side.
Last week was a tougher battle away against Taradale, but the patience of the boys was rewarded and they sailed to a 0-3 win. Both Player/coaches Mike Daly and Richard Gearey got themselves on the score sheet, as well as man-of-the-match Sam Slater who put in a hard shift up front for the Blues.
Paddy’s Irish Bar NCR Division 2 started the season with a derby match against Napier Marist.
The Blues took an early lead through a stunning finish by Jay McConie, however, Marist soon took control and went 1-2 up. Jerome Brown managed to equalize from a monster of a throw-in by Jimmy Tollison, but Marist went ahead again, this time holding on to the lead for a 2-3 win.
A disappointing start but one coach Jerome Brown said they could take positives from.
Round two saw Div 2 travel to Taradale. After dominating the early exchanges they went 0-1 down through a wonder strike by Taradale. The Blues quickly bounced back with a great finish from roving One News reporter, Sean Hogan making it 1-1. Just before the break a collision while going on goal saw Matt Sproull sustain a fractured hand. The injury sees last season’s top goal scorer out for a while, a huge blow for the Blues.
With barely a quarter of the game remaining Englishman Damien popped up with a commanding header to give Rovers a 2 -1 lead. But with just 10 minutes left on the clock, Taradale equalized and then quickly went ahead as the Blues looked like crumbling.
But Damien popped up to score his second via a free-kick that evaded all and snuck in the far post to finish the game 3-3.
Ultimately disappointed with not getting the three points, Coach Jerome Brown says they will settle for the draw.
“Mistakes and unlucky goals has been the story so far of our season. In both games we have conceded goals that perhaps, we feel, we should not have,: says Brown,
"But with a few new faces in key positions, hopefully with more game time together, our results will improve and we will start ascending the table.”
Thirsty Whale NCR Masters have yet to pick up a point after a disappointing start to the season.They went down 3-1 to Havelock North mercenaries at home, followed by a 3-0 defeat by Havelock at Guthrie Park a week later.
The Ladies lost 3-0 against Eskview Blues in their first game of the season. Coach Rob Bower said the team played well and he is hopeful that with more time to gel, performances will improve as the season progresses.
Good luck to all the teams as they enter Round 3 this weekend.
There's a smorgasbord of home games to chose from. Don't miss the action.
See you on the sidelines.
C'mon You Blues!
By: Anendra Singh, Hawke's Bay Today
Canadian striker Patryk Misik celebrates his second goal to put Rovers up 2-1 against Waterside Karori in the Central League soccer match today.
Napier City Rovers signaled their start to the winter soccer league with an emphatic victory at home in a game that yielded 10 goals.
The Thirsty Whale-sponsored Blues thumped Lotto Central League newbies Integration Works Waterside Karori 7-3 in the opening round at Bluewater Stadium, Park Island, on a pristine day that resembled anything but winter although there was enough ISPS Handa Premiership presence on the park for a summery feeling.
By Anendra Singh, Hawke's Bay Today sports editor
Just as it was for the British and Irish Lions rugby team, it was Napier City Rovers game to squander today.
Mercifully the Conroy Removals-sponsored Blues didn't as they thumped a predominantly 10-man Stop Out 4-1 at Bluewater Stadium, Park Island, in their Lotto Central League soccer match.
All the pre-match hype was about the physicality the third-placed Wellington visitors were renowned for and today's game lent credence to that approach after they found themselves a player down midway through the first half.
Conversely, player/coach Bill Robertson's hosts bided their time to break down the plucky resolve of their opposition.