‘Priv­i­lege to work in foot­ball’

Auckland City Harbour News - - SPORT - By BEN ROGERS

The last few weeks have been a kick in the guts for sacked foot­ball coach Kevin Fal­lon.

Fal­lon was told on July 24 that he was no longer needed at Mt Al­bert Gram­mar School af­ter an 18-year ten­ure.

De­spite the de­ci­sion, the for­mer All White coach looks back on his time at the school with noth­ing but fond­ness.

‘‘Ev­ery­day at MAGS brought a bit of sun­shine in my life, work­ing with young play­ers, the amount of win­ning was great but the amount of devel­op­ment was fan­tas­tic.

‘‘You see these kids com­ing in at year 9 then watch them go out the other door with an Amer­i­can schol­ar­ship or as an All White.

‘‘There have been very few down moments, I don’t re­mem­ber many at all.’’

The MAGS foot­ball pro­gramme flour­ished un­der Fal­lon. The school won count­less tro­phies and pro­duced a num­ber of in­ter­na­tional and pro­fes­sional play­ers.

The All White squad that trav­elled to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa fea­tured four play­ers who had come through Fal­lon’s pro­grammes.

He was made a Mem­ber of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2008 and has lived and breathed foot­ball for 50 years.

‘‘I’ve been so lucky to have my whole life in foot­ball, it’s been fan­tas­tic.

‘‘Train­ing, tac­tics, ups and downs, get­ting play­ers go­ing, it’s real-life theatre.

‘‘It is an ab­so­lute priv­i­lege to work in foot­ball.’’

Since the dis­missal Fal­lon has been in­un­dated with mes­sages of sup­port from play­ers, ex-play­ers, par­ents and many peo­ple he has met dur­ing his long ca­reer.

One sup­porter has even of­fered to help pay any le­gal fees should Fal­lon de­cide to take the mat­ter to court.

‘‘When you get mes­sages like these in your job, it sends a tin­gle down your spine.

‘‘I’m a hard man and I work with hard play­ers, but these mes­sages knock you off your feet.’’

The MAGS First XI were told that they no longer had Fal­lon as their coach just be­fore Satur­day’s game against Sa­cred Heart.

It was a home game but the team went down 7-0.

‘‘It’s quite trau­matic for them to get caught up in this,’’ Fal­lon says.

‘They have to con­cen­trate on what they are do­ing and get on with school and other things.’’

Ex-MAGS play­ers Cameron Hogg and Fox Slotemaker look up to Fal­lon and cher­ished their time with him as their coach.

‘‘The pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ment, that’s what you get from him. You are not go­ing to get that any­where else,’’ Hogg says.

‘‘If you’re look­ing for a player that needs a sort of at­ti­tude to carry them on, Kev is the only place you can get it.’’

Both Hogg and Slotemaker are head­ing to the United States to take up univer­sity schol­ar­ships.

‘‘Kevin is more than just a coach, he has been a friend to a lot of the boys and a men­tor re­ally, out­side of foot­ball too, in life ad­vice and ev­ery­thing,’’ Slotemaker says.

MAGS prin­ci­pal Dale Bur­den says the school is grate­ful for Fal­lon’s 18 years of ser­vice.

‘‘There is no doubt that he also con­trib­uted to the gen­eral lift in the qual­ity of se­condary school foot­ball in Auck­land.

‘‘How­ever, it is not right, fair or ap­pro­pri­ate for me to dis­cuss some­one’s em­ploy­ment sit­u­a­tion in the me­dia.’’

Fal­lon is op­ti­mistic about his fu­ture and is by no means ready to stop coach­ing.

‘‘I’m gonna carry on and hope some­thing comes up be­cause I’ve got a lot of fire left in me.’’

Fal­lon is un­de­cided on whether he will be on the side­lines this week­end when MAGS take on St Kentigern at home.

School view: There’s no es­cap­ing Mt Al­bert Gram­mar for Kevin Fal­lon. His bal­cony over­looks the school grounds.

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