Melville Gryphons head south
Melville embark on the club’s southernmost tournament venture ever this weekend (Feb 1-3) when the Melville Gryphons compete in the Over 45s division of the New Zealand Masters Games in Dunedin.
The 17-strong Melville Squad is comprised of an eclectic mix of Melville Old Boys, committee members, life members and the Nearly Dead.
While most of the Gryphons squad would have been eligible to compete in the Over 50s division, they decided to enter the Over 45s “to make more of a game of it” according to club captain Phil Wheatley.
The Gryphons name is derivative of “The Griffins” handle under which Melville unsuccessfully competed last year, in a bid to promote a popular alternative to the more sensible and mainstream “Unicorns” nickname, which was formally rejected at the club’s AGM in 2018. “Gryphons” is the classical Greek spelling of Griffins, as favoured by Aristeas of Proconnessus, Wheatley said.
Wheatley insisted the team was as well prepared as possible, and highly motivated by an inspiring team culture and infectious camaraderie.
“We had the gruelling experience of competing at the Masters Games at Wanganui last year, where we learned how hot and knackering it can be,” he said.
“The beauty of playing in Dunedin is it should be slightly cooler, and we won’t have the endless debates we had in Wanganui about how the city’s name should be spelled or pronounced either.”
The squad has been training on a regular basis since September but player-coach Kris (Pom) Allen was darkly philosophic about his team’s medal chances.
“Masters football is a bit like stock car racing,” Allen observed. “At any competitive meet there is usually a clear dividing line between the winners and the rest.
“With stock cars, it doesn’t matter how good a driver you are, you can’t make a pig go faster, and it’s pretty much the same with masters football. No matter how often some of our lads train, they are not going to get any better.
“As with stock cars, the best you can hope for is to have a decent pit crew on the sidelines ready to make running repairs when the wheels fall off.”
The Gryphons have been strengthened by the unavailability of Neil Mouncher, who will be a mere three hours away in Twizel, having taken up rowing in his dotage. (Apparently he got involved in rowing after misunderstanding how the sport’s name was pronounced, erroneously thinking it had something to do with arguing, which he is very good at.)
2020 Melville Gryphons: Kris Allen (player-coach), Phil Wheatley, Steve Wheatley, Wytse Bouma, Merv Williams, Stu Timings, Bruce Timings, Darby Macdonald, Julian Ford, Todd Nasmith, Tony Govorko, Lance Bauerfiend, Shane Comber, Gary Monaghan, Darrien Jamieson, Joe Fish, Shawn Rogers.