The Wrap: Leaver returns Six of the best
Melville appear to have unearthed another UK-sourced goalscoring wizard very much in the Marc Evans mould.
That was after masterly Matt Leaver potted all six goals as the Melville Gobs (Genuine Old Boys) came from 0-2 down to beat Waikato Unicol 6-3 at Hillcrest Park.
On a weekend when many of Melville’s lower grade matches were washed out, Blackburn-born Leaver unleashed a veritable flood of his own to rescue his team against Waikato B Division cellar-dweller opponents with a memorable “Matt finish”.
The goals all came in the second half as Leaver did the Superman business single-handedly to quickly earn the nickname “Leaver Alone”.
But Leaver was quick to play down his achievement, noting one of the goals was a penalty and even strike partner Honest Phil Wheatley could have scored one of the others.
“We always knew the chances would come,” Leaver said. “As it happened I just managed to finish them all.
“But I was just doing my job, I don’t want a fuss made. I don’t want to be seen as this week’s Kris (Pom) Allen with a massive photo on the website, profound interview and meaningful back story. I’m just a lad from Lancashire with a lust for life.”
When he speaks, Leaver sounds a bit like Grumio, the dimwitted slave from the British sitcom Plebs (set in Ancient Rome) but there is no mistaking his sharpness at B Division level, in his first season with the Gobs since arriving from Blackburn.
Comparison’s are naturally drawn with Evans, though Leaver, 35, looks a generation younger than The Hitman, something he attributes to supporting Blackburn Rovers and not drinking Vodka Cruisers.
But there’s also another key difference.
Leaver doesn’t keep a forensic record of his achievements, and wasn’t even sure how many goals he has scored this season.
“I suppose its about 20-odd goals,” he said before gaffer Stu “Statto” Timings revealed it was actually 22.
Perversely, Leaver’s success also created ripples of uncertainty within the usually tight-knit Gobs team, according to a reflective Wheatley.
Wheatley, ever a student of the human condition, while delighted for Leaver, said a six-goal haul created significant uneasiness in terms of on-pitch inter-personal communications within the team.
“When a team mate scores one goal you say ‘great’,” Wheatley explained. “If they get a hat trick you tell them ‘that’s fantastic’.
“But by the time they get to five or six there’s just nothing left to say, is there? So it leaves a kind of a vacuum and that can be really, really awkward.
“You don’t want to NOT acknowledge their achievement – but at the same time your compliments start sounding increasingly insincere.
“When you think of the concept of celebrating achievement, you tend to imagine it being triggered by something out of the ordinary. But when the extraordinary becomes common-place – ie, scoring loads of goals – it undermines the very founding motive for celebration.
“And then there’s the double jeopardy of the faux modesty of the other person’s compliment-deflection routine in their desperation not to appear conceited. You find yourself in a situation where you’re praising someone – but they’re also feeling awkward about confirming your forced assessment and looking for a means to politely contradict it.
“I mean, in that situation, even an unadorned ‘thank you’ sounds a bit uppity, doesn’t it?
“So all in all it’s a complete minefield. There’s a lot of very complicated social interaction to squeeze into a jog back to half way. In some respects it would be a lot simpler if nobody scored more than three goals in one of our matches, but you can’t say that, can you? Difficult.”
# Melville Knights eked out a valuable point against Cambridge B, grabbing a second half goal to draw 1-1, though once again there were some ugly scenes from the “Fight Club” visitors.
# Melville Ds beat their nearest league challengers, Northern Seniles, to go 15 points clear at the top of the D Division – which pretty much clinches the league
Goals came from Ryan Watson, Taylor Clement and Henry Goodall.
“All fantastic strikes,” said gaffer Alan “Hairy Javelin” Holt.
But it was goalkeeper Matt Wheatley who was named player of the day in a bruising encounter.
# It’s a big weekend coming up for Melville, with the first team away to Manukau in a match that could decide their promotion fate, while at home on the Sunday Gower Park hosts the Waikato women’s knockout cup final. And on Friday night Melville Premier women play Otumoetai (7pm) under lights in a catch-up match.