Martin retires as coach but stays ‘here for life’
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.