Melville’s 2017 youth connection
Above, from left, Lachie McIsaac, Stafford Dowling, Liam Fellowes, Liam Hayes, and Flynn O’Brien.
While Melville have signed a number of experienced campaigners for the 2017 season, they are also investing heavily in youth in their northern league squad.
Teenagers Liam Fellowes, Stafford Dowling, Flynn O’Brien have been called up from within the Melville system, while Liam Hayes has returned from a couple of seasons at Wanderers Sports Club.
Logan Wisnewski, a 16-year-old schoolboy who was in the wider training squad for the New Zealand U-17s has been added, as has Birkenhead U-19 rep Lachie McIsaac.
“We’ve got most of the best young talent in the region at Gower Park,” said co-coach Sam Wilkinson. “They will add much to the balance of the squad, and have the opportunity to play and learn alongside some good experienced players.”
Fellowes, who turns 19 this month, is back in Hamilton working as a barman after having had a couple of outings with the Dundee United youth team. The 6ft 3in centre back, son of Waikato legend Darren (Dash) Fellowes) was one of the stand-out performers for the Melville U-19 team at Napier last year.
O’Brien, another defender set to turn 19 this month, made one northern league appearance for Melville last year after being a key member of the champion Melville reserve team. O’Brien is studying law at Waikato University.
Dowling, 17, made his national league debut for Wanderers Sports Club over summer on the back of a handful of Melville first team appearances last year.
Midfielder Wisnewski already had a brother, Kyle, and sister, Grace, at Melville, but played for the Cambridge first team last winter.
Last year he was the only WaiBop player in the New Zealand training squad working in Auckland to qualify for this year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup in India, but did not make the final cut for the travelling squad this month.
Hayes made one northern league appearance as sub for Melville in 2014, but in 2015 went to Wanderers in search of first team football. He is the son of former Hamilton AFC player and coach, Dave Hayes.
McIsaac was a New Zealand schoolboy rep alongside Dowling last winter.