Jack Mac & Max secure Melville a derby point

JACK OF ALL TRADES: Melville goalkeeper-come-striker Jack "The Guv'nor" McGovern

The Goalkeepers Union earned Melville a valuable away point in a hard-fought derby against Wanderers Sports Club.

New signing Jack McGovern, better known as a goalkeeper but showing his alternate credentials as a striker since arriving from the UK, came on as a substitute midway through the second half and netted a treasured equaliser.

And then, in the gathering gloom just ahead of14 minutes of stoppage time, super Max Tommy brilliantly saved a penalty, diving full-length to his right.

Seconds earlier Erik Panzer - perhaps Melville's best player on the day along with Liam Hayes - had been sent off for deliberate hand ball to prevent Wanderers scoring the winner after a defensive mix-up, as the derby came alive in the second half.

As well as Panzer taking one for the team with his red, Melville copped four yellows while Wanderers had three yellows. For a long time there were more cards than good football in a typically tight contest.

The draw kept Melville one point above Wanderers, and seventh on the table.

It was something of a journey back in time, with the match contested on the Porritt Stadium centre pitch, where Melville enjoyed a very respectable track record from 1990-2012.

But Melville created little in the first half. Keagan Thompson and Quinton Kipara did combine to craft an opening for Sean McDonnell, but his shot was tame. Wanderers took the lead through Derek Tieku, his 16th goal of the league campaign.

However The Unicorns sprung to life when the tall McGovern was subbed on in the 56th minute. In an action-packed debut McGovern immediately went just wide with a rasping shot, scored the equaliser by hitting it down the middle in a goalmouth scramble. In the eyes of some watchers, he was also worth of a penalty in a one-on-one with Wanderers keeper Matt Oliver before then being subbed off injured in the 90th minute.

"Right place, right time," McGovern said of his goal. "All the good players score on debut."

However it looks like he will now be out for at least a fortnight with ligament damage to his left knee, following his collision with Oliver.

In chasing a through ball, McGovern got there first, tried to flick in past, had it bounce back to him and get propelled forward, after which he was clattered.

Did he think it was a penalty?

"Not at the time. As a keeper I wouldn't have thought so," he said." But on looking at the replay (the game was streamed on You Tube)  I'm having second thoughts."

Melville historian Ron Anorak said the last time a Melville import scored on debut in an away match against Wanderers was Steve Thompson in 2006. McGovern was the 27trh player to have made a first team appearance for Melville in 16 matches this season.

McGovern's back story on ending up at Gower Park is one of the more interesting ones.

For the past two seasons the 27-year-old has been goalkeeper with AFC Liverpool in the North West Counties League, playing 49 of 50 games in goal last year - as well as being fans' player of the year twice. And previously he had about 80 games in goal for Bootle (Liverpool) in the northern premier league.

He shipped in two weeks ago, following his girlfriend, who landed a job at Cheltenham Stables, just outside of Cambridge, in pre-training race horses.

With a degree in sports science and a masters in sports development, he quickly landed a role as development activator with Northern Districts Cricket Association. He has previously worked as a club support officer with the English FA, and may yet do consulting work with NZ Football in this regard.

"I didn't want to come somewhere mid-season and be sat on the bench for the rest of the season as a reserve goalkeeper," he said. "Max (Tommy) is one of the best keepers I've seen for a long while."

Since his youth McGovern - born in Devon, but a keen Everton fan - has also had something of a sideline as a striker, and in Sunday League football had netted 30 goals for the Custom House Club in Chester (where he had also gone to university), as they won a league and cup double.

"I'm basically an enigma," he said.

Melville are at home to Manurewa (pitch 6) on Saturday.

Article added: Sunday 25 June 2023


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