First team and Old Boys in action

Melville’s northern league squad play their first serious pre-season outing with a home game against Western Springs at 11am Saturday (Feb 14) while Melville Old Boys are contesting the Masters Games (Over 45s) in Wanganui from Friday-Sunday.

It’s shaping as a challenging season for Melville at northern league level, with the loss of several senior figures. While a number of new faces have shipped in, there is still much work to be done in terms of basics such as passing, crossing and movement before any of them are worthy of being name-dropped here.

And little was gleaned from last Saturday’s intra-squad match with few meaningful contributions – apart perhaps from a nice finish from Aaron Scott and one that was not too bad from Jerson Giraldo.

The Western Springs game will be a far better gauge of where Melville are at. For Springs the match will also be an opportunity to play on a decent pitch and get away from their much unloved artificial surface at Seddon Fields. A previously planned Reserves fixture has been binned after Springs could not muster a travelling team.

Meanwhile Melville Old Boys will be hoping to improve upon their Masters Games effort of 2019 at Whanganui when they won bronze medals, though on paper look weaker this year, with even Neil Evans having been drafted into the squad. However they will at least be a happy squad with Neil “Keto” Mouncher not travelling.

Feature of the squad is three sets of identical twins in Stu and Bruce Timings, Phil and Steve Wheatley, and Merv and Wytse Bouma. The team are staying at the Kingsgate, which is right next door to the boutique Mothership Brewery. Team sources said they were likely to sample Mothership’s Meteorite APA which features Centennial, Amarillo and Simcoe hops and has strong stone fruit and watermelon taste notes.

Melville club captain Phil Wheatley also recommends “The Dullahan, a 5 per cent Irish red ale, named after the headless horseman from Irish folklore who still roams the plains and countryside calling out the names of the doomed.

“The notion of The Dullahan could yet become metaphoric for our efforts at the Masters this time,” said Wheatley, who knows a bit about calling out headless team mates after doubling as Melville’s head barman.

Melville Gryphons squad: Stu Timings, Bruce Timings, Shane Combers, Phil Wheatley, Gary Monaghan, Wytse Bouma, Todd Nasmith, Merv Williams, Darby MacDonald, Lance Bauerfeind, Stu Miller, Mike Stewart, Tony Govorko, Shawn Rogers, Neil Evans.

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