Mighty Mighty Melville Reserves
Commitment, discipline, confidence and camaraderie were the key factors fueling Melville’s first northern premier reserve league title.
Melville cruised to a 4-1 win against second-placed Western Springs, thanks to a hat trick from Josh Nooijens and one from Mike Cosgrave, and players and staff later reflected on a major achievement.
The win was foremost a tribute to coach Merv Williams, in his first season at this level, but he was quick to defer to others.
“I’m delighted for the boys – and the three of us coaching staff (including assistant Wytse Bouma and cultural advisor Arran Clement),” Williams said.
“The goal at the start of the season was simply to make the top three. But the level of commitment, week after week, felt almost unusual and we were very disciplined in our approach.
“We are very proud that none of the top three in the league have knocked us over – and we haven’t lost a game at Gower Park.”
Bouma added that the ability of their players to receive coaching information and take on board coaching strategies was a significant factor in the title honour.
“A lot of our success comes down to the boys understanding what we were trying to do as coaches – and then working so hard for each other.”
Undisputable is the fact Melville Reserves always appeared ton have plenty of goalscoring options, as noted by their haul of 69 goals in 23 matches.
“Scoring goals has become our way of getting out of trouble,” Williams said. “Our front three can create from the most desperate of circumstances.”
Nooijens and Cosgrave have 16 goals each for the season, but they were surprisingly far less prolific in expressing what the title meant to them, deferring instead to the brains of the outfit, the more eloquent Subesh Naidu.
“When you walk out with this team you know you are going to win,” Naidu said. “We just have that aura. We are 14 brothers out there.”
Williams said credit was also due to the wider club.
“The support has been fantastic, right down to the little things like sausages after training, putting drinks on for the lads. It has been an environment where everyone has been made to feel welcome.”
In reply Melville club captain Phil Wheatley said claiming the title was a major honour for the club, perhaps only overshadowed by the club’s northern premier league titles of 1995 and 2009, and praised coaches and players.
“In some respects winning a reserve league is even more challenging because conceptually team management are seldom masters of their own destiny,” Wheatley said. “Invariably the first consideration in team selection, availability and logistics comes down to deferring to the requirements of the club’s first team, so there is a weekly balancing act that would try the patience of Job.
“The real achievement of the Reserves Class of 2016 far transcends silverware. They have shown themselves to be a critical part of the very fabric of the club with their camaraderie and general deportment at Gower Park and on the road.”
Melville Reserves celebrated their title in the smallest changing room this side of Lilliput, mixing champers with shampoo. The belted out a raucous rendition of Mighty Mighty Melville before Larry Grayson Sutcliffe merrily sprayed the room with bubbly.
“We were highly impressed that Grayson knew his way around a bottle of Bolly so well,” Cosgrave said. “I grew up in a house where we would celebrate with champagne breakfasts every time Dad sold a two-bedroomed bungalow, so you take it for granted after a while – but this really was bubbly bathing at its best.”