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Sunday, November 29, 2009

How To Get Your Kicks In Wellington Pt. 1

A Tragic's Guide to Park Kickabouts

Kickabouts abound in Wellington. They always have, even before the advent of professional football in the Capital. Wellington is a cosmopolitan, immigrant city, and wherever citizens of the World's Game meet, green open spaces are given over to the noble kickabout.

Having admitted I am a Football Tragic I will also admit I am something of a conniseur of park kickabouts. At least in Wellington Central, South or East if there is a kickabout going down I will know about it. So here for your own personal reference is a guide to the best places to find a kickabout in Wellington.

Part One- Central City

There are a number of places to find a kickaround in the central city. Here are a few of the best.

Waitangi Park is an obvious place to start. Smack bang in the middle of town, in Summer it is a hive of action, and increasingly is a place to find a game of football or two.

It is close to the beach for a cooling swim afterwards, and is surrounded by a number of bars if you prefer a bit of internal cooling.

In the past it has been used by The Yellow Fever Fan Club to host five a side games against fans of visiting A-League clubs; both Melbourne and Sydney have been hosted here.

So proximity is in its favour, but the grass is thin and pebbley underneath which can result in nasty grazing, and you are just as likely to find a game of touch, frisbee or even an Arts Festival Event as a game of footie.

At least if there is no footie there's coffee, gelato, basketball, skateboarding or people watching to occupy your time.


Likelihood of games- 3/10
Location- 9/10
Other diversions 10/10
Likely participants: Backpackers, pissheads (AKA Yellow Fever)
Other sports to contend with: Touch Rugby, Joggers, BMX, Skateboarders, Petanque, Basketballers.

Tragic rating= 7.3

Prince of Wales Park

Nestled in the hilly suburb of Mount Cook, Prince of Wales Park is not quite as grand as its name suggest. Really a rugby and cricket ground it is quite a popular kickabout spot in the summer season. There are, however two parks, so if organising a game here make sure you specify top or bottom field lest you split the participants.
If there are no games on the bush walks are quite fun, and it is only a short hop to one of the most consistent kickaround locations: Nairn Street Park.


Likelihood of games- 5/10
Location-6/10 (pretty but hard to find)
Other diversions-6/10
Likely participants- social teams in pre-season training
Other sports to contend with: Rugby (Winter), Cricket (Summer) Mountain Bikers, Harriers,

Tragic Rating= 5.6

Nairn Street Park

This is one of the best places to pick up a game in Wellington. Situated on a ridge on the way to Brooklyn it has a sweeping view of the harbour. The steep walk up is tough but means that you'll be warm by the time you reach the field. With plenty of low-rent Council Housing nearby refugees and migrants, as well as clued-up backpackers flock to the park on Sunny Sundays to play footie. Sportzone Sports run their Summer footie out of here so on Summer week nights there are always games on, not neccesarily pick up, but if you take your boots and smooch around chances are you'll get a run at some point. Sportzone's industry, however, does mean that by the end of Summer parts of Nairn are dustier than the Sahara, but it also means that there are usually good field markings to negate 'ball out of play' arguments.
If there are no games on the views are great for picnics and Central Park is just across the road with an extensive network of walks and a great playground for the weans.


Likelihood of games- 9/10
Other diversions-6/10
Likely participants- teams in pre-season training, African migrants, strong culture of mixed (men and women) games.
Other sports to contend with: Frisbee, Picnicers, Stoners.

Tragic Rating= 8.0

Rugby League Park

Training ground for the Wellington Lions and Wellington Hurricanes Rugby teams, RL Park is an unlikely place to find a football kickabout. But most Sunday mornings there is a regular kickaround here run by a group of tragics known as Newtown Athletic FC. More recently the Yellow Fever have been holding regular kickarounds here as well. They even update the time and date on a special forum thread:


Rugby League Park is also going to be the location of the City's second purpose built Generation 3 artificial, so it will no doubt be a hub of informal football, if you manage to kick the Tongan International Rugby team off it first.


Likelihood of games- 10/10 (only because you can check the website first)
Other diversions-5/10
Likely participants- Yellow Feverites and other hungover tragics such as myself
Other sports to contend with: Profesional Rugby Players who won't brook no sissyness

Tragic Rating: 7.6

So thats the lowdown on the city- Nairn Park is the best place for casual kickabouts, but if you want a guaranteed turnout cast an eye over the Yellow Fever forum and find out what time the next game is on at Rugby League Park.

Coming next: The Tragic's Guide to Kickarounds in the Southern and Eastern Suburbs, and Park Football Etiquette.

(If I have forgotten a park in the central city, or if you know of a place to find regular kickabouts please enlighten me in the comments section below)

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