It'll be men against boys, but at least the boys will be near home.
Lower Hutt City, with an average age of "18 and a little bit", meet a Central United team who are basically four-time Oceania Champions League winners Auckland City in different clobber, in the upcoming Chatham Cup final.
Lower Hutt will need every advantage they can get in the August 26 decider and got one yesterday when Newtown Park was announced as the venue.
New Zealand Football had scheduled North Harbour Stadium to host the final, but a double booking meant an alternative had to be sought.
"There's no doubt that we're going to be underdogs, so having some support there might just help the lads and give them the extra confidence to get in there and have a go," Lower Hutt coach Brendan McIntyre said.
"I don't know what kind of result it will be, but we don't go in with any fears. We've got nothing to lose."
When McIntyre refers to his players as lads, it's not just a throwaway word. Having beaten Caversham 4-0 in Sunday's semifinal in Dunedin, the team travelled by bus to Christchurch the next day before flying back to Wellington.
But before they could get the team van back to its Bell Park base, there were detours to St Pat's Silverstream, St Bernard's College and Hutt Valley High to drop four of the players off for school.
"They had their books packed and off they went," McIntyre said.
The contrast with Central, which boast several overseas imports and a spine of 30-somethings such as Ivan Vicelich, Riki van Steeden and Paul Urlovic, could hardly be more striking, he said. Playing at Newtown Park will also help Lower Hutt financially, after they spent more than $20,000 getting to Auckland for their quarterfinal against Birkenhead United and then down to Dunedin.
One team that won't be at Newtown Park for a while are the Wellington Phoenix. They are about to say goodbye to their familiar training base and embark on a five-game pre-season tour, which starts with a match against the Newcastle Jets in Australia.
From there it's off to India to take part in a four-team tournament with local I-League clubs.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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