Melville are Waikato A champs

Melville have won the Waikato men’s A division for the first time in decades, earning player-coach Gavin Douglas his first senior honour as gaffer.

Melville Nobs (New Old Boys) finished their season with a comfortable 6-0 away win over Wanderers, to take the league title by three points from Ngaruawahia United’s first team.

In the process they took their goal tally to 104 for the season, scored at the rate of 5.8 per game. They lost just one league match, and conceded only 18 goals.

It was a most satisfying conclusion to the season for a Nobs squad built around a number of former first team players such as Douglas, Jason Chewins, Kieran Frewen, Justin Harden (real name), Grant Kettle, Josh Billman, and Wayne (Master) Bates, and former reserve team players Raj Naidu, Subesh Naidu and Rory Noorland.

All but one member of the squad scored during the course of the season – and that unsuccessful player is far too valuable a club member to be publicly shamed.

The Nobs started the season with a useful bunch – but it was only when they picked up leftovers who didn’t fit anywhere else within the club that they really took shape.

For instance, Douglas pointed to Hamish Utteridge, the pup of the team at 29, as one of the stars.

“Those whipper-snapper young legs were often a life-saver for us,” he said.

At the other end of the spectrum, Chewins, 52, was still going strong, while Bates, 50, and Billman, 40, also had their moments.

Goals in the Wanderers win came from Aaron Scott – who romped through a 20-minute cameo for the team – and Greg Hobson, who scored his first of the season.

Also on the scoresheet were Terry Blunt, Frewen, so often the goalscoring star got two, and the prolific Utteridge.

Douglas played in goal in the second half, but almost added a stunner with an adventurous burst upfield then a diving header as rush-goalkpeer.

“If I hadn’t been wearing a goalkeeper’s cap I would have scored,” he lamented.

Douglas, 42, said his coaching philosophy was simple.

“As a civil engineer by profession I am more an architect than an artisan,” he said. “I naturally look for solid foundations, with strong central pillars, and favour a progressive, systematic build, working to a detailed plan.

“As I explained to Sam Wilkinson the other week, you can’t expect to put on a roof on a house before you have built the framework and the floor.

“But once you have a strong foundation to stand on, like the floor of a house, you can infuse players’ passion and get them to achieve their goals by using a sound framework of methods, the right motivational tools, and insightful exercises to support success, just like the walls support the roof of a house.”

Douglas said he often shared notes with Wilkinson, given their common status as rising new coaches seeking to make a big impact, and desperately hoped Sam would follow in his footsteps with a northern league title win next year.

“I like to think Sam and I have been strong influences upon each other. But while there is great mutual respect, there are also subtle differences.

“While my team finished top, Sam allegedly voted for TOP, perhaps not fully understanding that it was a wasted vote under MMP.”

Despite his maiden success, Douglas will not be seeking a northern league coaching post – at this stage.

“But we may have a recruitment drive for the Nobs next year. I’m thinking of doing one of those flash academy posters and arranging trials.”

Gav Douglas has put his hand up as Nobs player-coach.

Gavin Douglas salutes his title-winning Nobs team

Douglas said the previous week’s win over Ngaruawahia was the most satisfying moment of the season.

“While we had managed a lot of good results, it all would have counted for nothing if we had lost that one,” he said.

“And in all my years I have never seen a team as bitter as Ngaruawahia, as Matt and Jared Williams blamed everyone but themselves for their loss.

“It served as such a contrast with our own Melville culture, and it was that which really sheeted home to me that us Nobs had properly done our design-and-build contract, and got our foundations right.”

# Melville champion D team had a satisfying 2-1 away win over Tokoroa.

Tokoroa have been the only team to beat the Ds in the league.

“So, nice revenge,” said coach Alan Holt.

Melville goalscorers were Venk Krishnan and Darren Caeiro, while player of the day was Adam Grant.

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