Sea­son a suc­cess on and off the field


Five things we learned from Tas­man United’s first sea­son in the Premier­ship.

1 Nel­son’s re­turn to the na­tional stage has been a suc­cess ... In hind­sight it seems crazy to think that New Zealand Foot­ball ig­nored Nel­son for so long. Tas­man ticked all the boxes off the field, draw­ing large crowds by Premier­ship stan­dards, cre­at­ing strong com­mu­nity en­gage­ment and, cru­cially, be­ing fi­nan­cially vi­able too. The on field per­for­mances should be given a pass mark after their late sea­son resur­gence lifted Tas­man to eighth place on 17 points with a record of four wins, five draws and nine losses. Vic­to­ries over Eastern Suburbs and South­ern United will go down as their best re­sults but draw­ing with heavy­weights Auck­land City and Waitakere United were just as mem­o­rable.

2 Da­vor Tavich should have been coach all along ... Richard An­der­son built the foun­da­tions and de­serves credit for that. It’s of­ten for­got­ten that he was tasked with coach­ing a com­pletely new team that fea­tured nu­mer­ous play­ers who had never played at Premier­ship level be­fore. But Tavich was far more suc­cess­ful when he took over late in the sea­son and his record of three wins, one draw and one loss proves he should have had the top job all along. It would be shock­ing to over­look him again next sea­son.

3 Paul Ifill has still got it ... Eight goals from 17 games isn’t the re­turn the 37-year-old for­mer Phoenix star was hop­ing for in his first sea­son with Tas­man but it was still enough to earn him the team’s Golden Boot award. His ex­pe­ri­ence and lead­er­ship was in­valu­able, par­tic­u­larly when Tavich was the only coach left at the fran­chise. Ifill helped Tas­man at­tract play­ers, in­clud­ing the club’s player of the year Cameron Lind­say, and will con­tinue to do so. He also pro­vided the high­light of the sea­son when he scored four goals against South­ern.

4 The fu­ture is bright but keep think­ing lo­cal ... There were many times dur­ing the early stages of the sea­son when the lack of lo­cals in the match-day squad came un­der scru­tiny. But that changed un­der Tavich to the point where there was a pe­riod dur­ing Satur­day’s game when Nel­son teenagers Matt Tod-Smith, Labu Pan, David Maisey, Cal­lan El­liot and Ch­ester Gaskin were all on the field to­gether. Tavich com­mented af­ter­wards that none of them looked out of place and, form per­mit­ting, they are not only a good chance of mak­ing the squad next year but should have larger re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. The whole point of Tas­man is to com­plete the path­way for the re­gion’s young tal­ent so let’s hope next year’s squad fea­tures less out-of-town fill ins who don’t even last the 18 rounds and more of the play­ers who will be there for years to come.

5 Re­tain­ing the bulk of the squad is key but ad­di­tions still needed ... Of the squad that saw out the sea­son, you could make a case that each of them should be signed next year and there are not too many ad­di­tions that will be needed in or­der to lift the team into play­off con­tention should the cur­rent crop re­turn. Se­cur­ing Ifill, Lind­say and Rob­bie Pear­son is the high­est pri­or­ity of the out-oftown­ers with the fu­ture of Ti­nashe Marowa and Er­mal Ha­j­dari un­clear as the tal­ented wingers hope to kick on to a higher level. Back up for Coey Turipa, more cover in de­fence and a top qual­ity striker will be high on the shop­ping list, with for­mer Rich­mond Ath­letic play­ers Sam Ma­son-Smith (11 goals) and Ben Harris (10 goals) both re­al­is­tic tar­gets due to their ties to the re­gion. As long as they re­main in­jury-free, ex­pe­ri­enced Nel­son Suburbs strik­ers Ben Wright and Camp­bell Banks could pro­vide at­tack­ing depth on the bench that wasn’t there this sea­son.


Spec­ta­tors clap Tas­man United play­ers off Trafal­gar Park fol­low­ing their record 5-2 win over South­ern United.

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