Hitman returns for pre-season Sunday match

Melville begin their 2019 pre-season at Gower Park, 3pm Sunday, with a match against reigning northern premier league champions Onehunga Sports, buoyed by the return of one of their best-ever strikers.

As they prepare for their first outing in the premier league since 2016, they have secured the services of 2017 Melville player of the year and players’ player Marc “Hitman” Evans.

After first joining Melville from Wales in 2015, and scoring prodigiously, Evans spent the 2018 season away from Gower Park as he sought to “find himself”. During his 12-month sabbatical he linked up with Waiheke United, and as a keen anthropologist deeply imbued himself in new cultural traditions with other ethnicities in the Hauraki Gulf.

But Evans, not yet 37, yearned for a return to Gower Park and has been happily welcomed back by Melville after he met the club pre-requisite of acting as sponge boy for the Melville Griffins at the Masters Tournament last weekend.

In 2017 Evans won Melville’s Golden Boot award, notching 39 goals, including eight hat tricks.

Altogether Evans has scored 66 first team goals in 62 appearances for Melville, and this season should overtake the only two players ahead of him, Mark Cossey (84) and Steven Holloway (82).

Welsh is Evans’ native tongue and he excitedly told the Melville website: “Rwyf wrth fy modd â’r clwb hwn”. (“I love this club.”)

Evans expects to resume his partnership with his close friend, Jama Boss, who took over his league Golden Boot mantle last year.

“Jama and I share a similar philosophic outlook about goalscoring. It’s primarily about the team, not us as individuals – though having said that, I want to take the penalties.

“But bottom line it’s about ‘we’, not ‘me’,” and I’ve even asked the gaffers to put that on the changing room wall.”

Evans has returned fitter than ever after spending much of the summer in a rehabilitation camp where he finally conquered his craving for vodka. He is now urging fans NOT to buy him drinks at the bar post-match, even if he has scored a hat trick.

“Rwy’n ddyn newydd,” he said. (“I am a new man”.)

Evans has immersed himself in club life, attending not just pre-season training but businesshouse 6-a-side as well.

“It’s good to be back. This is going to be a big season for The Unicorns and I am desperate to be part of it.”

# There will also be earlier youth and reserve teams games at Gower on Sunday from 11am onwards.

# On March 9 Melville are due to host Chatham Cup holders Birkenhead United.

# Melville United will mark their return to northern premier league action with a home game against cross-town rivals Wanderers Sports Club on March 30.

Wanderers finished sixth in the premier league last season.

The clubs have not met since 2016, when Wanderers won 5-1 (Gower) and 3-0 (Porritt). That season Max Tommy, Wade Molony, Liam Hayes, Federico Marquez and Jama Boss were all with Wanderers.

Melville’s first away game of the season is Glenfield Rovers on April 6, followed by a home game against Manukau City on April 13.

On Good Friday Melville are away to North Shore United. (NB travelling fans should be aware North Shore traditionally don’t properly understand the liquor licensing laws so tend to close their bar on Good Friday.)

This year the northern premier champions will receive $1500 worth of product from league sponsors Lotto.

Full season draw HERE

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