The wrap: Goalkeeper drought
Where have all the goalkeepers gone? That was a question on many Melville lips as numerous club teams suffered from a shortage of specialist custodians, and it proved a testing weekend for replacement ring-ins.
With Yvette Stevenson overseas, Laurie McMaster was again promoted from the third team to the Women’s Prem, who lost 1-2 away to Rotorua, while Melville Development custodian Emma Clarke took the field injured for the tough gig against table toppers Tauranga before being replaced by right back Selena Timings in the second half. The Genuine Old Boys recalled the nearly-dead Kris Allen for their big away loss to Otorohanga, while desperate Melville Bs needed to place Alex “Torres” Pandey between the sticks with their two regular keepers unavailable. Meanwhile Jamie Searle, brother of Luke, played in goal for Melville Feds in their uphill task against table-toppers Cambridge. And Melville D were missing the injured Matt Wheatley so had to play Greg Holt in goal.
Gobs smacked 4-0: Allen not the key as Otorohanga cramp his style
An understrength Melville Gobs (Genuine Old Boys) trudged to a 0-4 away loss against B Division leaders Otorohanga, but the day was not completely without its heroes.
It was the best of times and the worst of times as former club chairman Kris “Pom” Allen (photo above) resolved to come out of retirement and play in goal for the desperate Gobs.
Old goalkeepers are hardly a new phenomenon, but there was a touch of pathos as 52-year-old Allen pulled off one worldy, inspired his understrength team, and was named player of the day.
However ultimately Kris also had his crosses to bear as he failed to make a difference to a depressing scoreline.
In goalkeeping terms Allen is the poor man’s less angry Neil Mouncher, and in civilian life is often mistaken for Po from the Teletubbies.
It did not help that he scoffed KFC pre-match, or that for the past two years his exercise has consisted solely of walking from the fridge to the couch.
But Allen at least showed Sheffield steel to front for a trip few from any club north of Te Awamutu enjoy making.
Though Otorohanga soon cramped his style.
Indeed, Allen despaired that he may have become the first goalkeeper in the history of the game to require treatment for cramp – and before half time. Kris was cross.
It only served to underline how making a comeback can be one of the most difficult things to do with dignity, though Allen saw his unexpected recall in more classical terms when interviewed by the Melville wesbite wrap.
“Everyone loves a comeback story, and everyone loves an underdog,” Allen said. “I might have been rustier than the Titanic, but is there anything more exciting than seeing someone with a dream get a second chance at glory in the twilight of their career?
“I feel like I was the underdog’s underdog at Otorohanga, alone with cramping calves behind a very dodgy back four. Hopefully my appearance inspires younger Melville club members to not give up on themselves, and not give up on their dreams.
“This goalkeeping cameo was not about winning or losing – it was simply about enjoying the challenge, and helping out some old friends in their time of need.
“But unfortunately after the first half my legs turned to jelly and I needed four puffs on my inhaler just to get to the other end at half time. Bottom line is it was a very tough Saturday – and I’m more of a Wednesday man.”
However Gobs team mates were proud of Allen’s efforts.
“Yeah, sure, Pommy needs a bit more practice at picking the ball out of the back of the net, but generally he did well under very difficult circumstances,” said player-coach Stu Timings.
“I’m not saying the Otorohanga pitch was bad, but at one point I made a run down the sideline and found some Chinese guys growing rice.”
Elsewhere Darby McDonald severely tested the ref’s patience, waving more arms than a Hindu goddess, while van driver Todd Nasmith was the stand-out Melville player in difficult conditions, with the surface wetter than a pufferfish in a power shower.
Meanwhile Allen offered an outsider’s frank assessment of the Gobs in 2017. “Too old and too slow,” he said.
But Melville club captain (and barman) Phil Wheatley disagreed in his weekly thought shower.
“Despite the odd 4-0 loss, this is a team that can survive on craftsmanship,” Wheatley argued. “And remember, craftmanship isn’t something where you’re pulling pints from a keg until it’s empty – it’s a rare quality where the more that is drawn out, somehow the more that remains.”
The Knights (Div B) had no luck in their road trip to Waihi, losing 3-1.
With both keepers unavailable, Alex Pandey offered to put on the gloves. He had a career clean sheet – though that was mostly due to the fact this was his first game as goalie.
Melville suffered an injustice when the ref awarded a goal to Waihi where the scorer was clearly off side. The flag was up, the Waihi supporters agreed he was off, as did the Waihi coach in his aftermatch speech.
But the ref saw it differently, assuming he saw it. The match was evened up 15 minutes later when Blake Webb rifled one home from the penalty spot to make it 1-1 at half time.
Melville created plenty of second half chances but did not have the composure to finish, while Waihi managed to score two legitimate goal to move clear.
Though he no longer has a clean sheet, “Torres” Pandey had a superb game and was named man of the match.
Women’s Development make a Gunn start but then fade
Melville Women’s Development made a brilliant start against Federation women’s league leaders Tauranga at Gower Park, with Summer Gunn netting in the 8th minute.
But they were increasingly worn down in the second spell, and up against the wall when keeper Emma Clarke could no longer continue, though young replacement Selena Timings was named players’ player for her efforts as a stand-in replacement.
“To score early was nice,” said stand-in coach Stu Timings, who had stacked five in defence for the occasion. “We didn’t expect our development team to be playing in the federation league, but we are trying to make the most of the opportunity.”
Melville Epics grabbed their first point of the Waikato Women’s A Bowl with a 1-1 home draw against fifth place Northern. Melville opened the scoring in the first half through Jackie McInally but conceded in the second spell in a battle between two under-strength teams.
Left back Sue “Supermac” McAllister won player of the day at left back while players’ player was the gazelle-like left winger, Laura Schnuriger, who was recalled from netball duty.
High five for the Ds
Melville Ds made harD work of a 5-0 win over Northern Gaffers to stay six points clear at the top of their Division.
There were goals to Taylor Clement (2), Ryan Watson and Nick Alquist – his first ever goal for Melville.
But the real talking point was a goal from veteran player-gaffer, Alan Holt.
It was the Hairy Javelin’s first goal for Melville that haD not come from the penalty spot, and all but prompteD a Te Reo singalong.
However moDesty prevented Holt from talking about his moment of glory.
So Depending on who you talk to, Holt either embarkeD on a slicing solo run where he beat 10 players – or he weirDly chippeD the keeper from insiDe the 6-yarD box.
Either way, the Ds should have Done it more easily against 10-man Northern, rather than neeDing three goals in the final 10 minutes. Player of the Day was Jono JorDan.
Elsewhere Melville Nobs (New Old Boys) survived the debilitating absence of Raj Naidu (overseas) to beat West Hamilton 7-1, with goals from Kieran Frewan (2), Josh Billman, Jason Chewins, Hamish Utteridge (2), and Grant Kettle, and remain top of the A Division.
And Alex Walters scored a second half consolation goal as Melville Feds were beaten 8-1 by league leaders Cambridge.