Martin re­tires as coach but stays ‘here for life’

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

To call Richie Martin a stal­wart of Tawa AFC is an un­der­state­ment.

The coach of the Cen­tral League side be­gan his days with the club as a five-year-old and played a record 275 games as a se­nior for the first team. He has a nat­u­ral dis­like for West­ern Sub­urbs – noth­ing per­sonal, he in­sists; it’s just what you do if you sup­port Tawa.

But Martin is pre­par­ing for life af­ter foot­ball, de­cid­ing ear­lier this sea­son that this cam­paign would be his last. He has en­joyed the two sea­sons of Cen­tral League play, and life in Cap­i­tal Premier be­fore that, but it is time to hand over the reins.

‘‘We needed a coach in 2005 and I put my hand up,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve loved be­ing a part of this setup but I feel it was the right time to step away. It wasn’t an easy de­ci­sion to make – it was a lit­tle bit emo­tional to be hon­est, as I’ve got such an at­tach­ment to the club. But af­ter more than six years you need fresh ideas and dif­fer­ent voices.’’

Tawa’s 2011 sea­son is in limbo, with a match against Chatham Cup semi­fi­nal­ist Napier City Rovers still to come. Most other clubs have fin­ished and can look for­ward to endof-sea­son cel­e­bra­tions.

Tawa are com­fort­ably mid-ta­ble, cap­ping their year by de­stroy­ing the rel­e­gated Palmer­ston North Marist 8-0 on Satur­day, Au­gust 6.

Martin says their two sea­sons at the top level have been sat­is­fac­tory.

Al­though they had mixed re­sults at times, they man­aged to do the dou­ble over Olympic, drew with Mi­ra­mar away, beat Wairarapa once and took the rein­vig­o­rated Mit­subishi Mo­tors Chal­lenge Tro­phy off Wests, scor­ing twice in the last 10 min­utes at En­deav­our Park for a 2-1 vic­tory.

‘‘It was a hard sea­son at times, but we’ve ad­justed to this level and no one has torn us apart on the field.

‘‘I’ve had a few sleep­less nights, and lost my hair, but it’s been a real team ef­fort, from the coach­ing staff and train­ers to the play­ers.

‘‘It’s a close team and ev­ery­one has the right attitude.

‘‘There’s three sets of brothers and a lot of these guys grew up to­gether and came out of Tawa Col­lege. Just a very fam­ily-ori­ented club.’’

A key high­light was scal­ing the peak that was pro­mo­tion af­ter be­ing run­ners-up in Cap­i­tal Premier three times in a row. In 2009, they beat Red Sox Manawatu in a home-an­d­away play­off, be­fore a sim­i­lar, but far more epic, tie with Welling­ton United to se­cure the Cen­tral League spot.

Af­ter win­ning leg one 3-1 at home, they were down 3-1 at Far­ring­ton Park be­fore scor­ing twice in two min­utes and over­com­ing United 5-3.

He says some of the credit for re­cent suc­cesses must go to his as­sis­tants, Iain West, Don Fen­ton and, re­cently, Keith Rickard. Club pres­i­dent Mike Wood also re­ceives plenty of praise.

Re­cruit­ing is tough for Tawa, since they do not have the money other clubs do to en­tice play­ers, so they rely on a foun­da­tion of lo­cal tal­ent.

Martin says who­ever suc­ceeds him will be well aware of that, en­sur­ing ju­niors com­ing through the ranks are se­cured for se­nior play.

So will he go grace­fully into re­tire­ment? Un­likely. Martin might be spar­ing his fam­ily the Tues­day and Thurs­day evening ab­sences, but he still says Mas­ters foot­ball may be in his fu­ture.

‘‘I might be stand­ing down as [first team] coach but I’m here for life. I’ll do what­ever I can to help the club.’’

Al­ways Tawa: Richie Martin’s ten­ure as Tawa AFC’s first team coach will come to an end when this sea­son con­cludes, but you can guar­an­tee he will be in­volved with the club for some time yet.

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