Mak­ing a good fist of things

Nelson Mail - - Sport - Phillip Rollo

Welling­ton Phoenix coach Mark Ru­dan threw his fist in the air as he marched past the Yel­low Fever on his way off the West­pac Sta­dium pitch on Satur­day night.

‘‘I was look­ing up at them and thought ‘let’s get the guys go­ing a lit­tle bit’. I don’t nor­mally do that, I’m not nor­mally an emo­tional or sen­ti­men­tal type but they de­served it,’’ Ru­dan said.

‘‘It was good to see a smile on their faces. It is a proud city and it’s a proud coun­try and foot­ball in this coun­try de­serves a lot more. It’s been kicked from pil­lar to post and we’re just a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of this whole coun­try.’’

The Phoenix pro­duced a stun­ning sec­ond-half come­back to beat the win­less Cen­tral Coast Mariners 3-2 and ex­tend their un­beaten A-League record to eight games, with the send­ing off of Mariners de­fender Kye Rowles a mas­sive turn­ing point on a night where An­drew Du­rante cel­e­brated a mile­stone 300th A-League ap­pear­ance.

Roy Kr­ishna fur­ther high­lighted his im­por­tance to the Phoenix by scor­ing twice from the penalty spot, while his storm­ing run also sparked the match­win­ning goal scored by strike part­ner David Wil­liams as the Phoenix stormed back from a 2-0 half­time deficit to score three unan­swered goals.

But as pleased as Ru­dan was to set a new bench­mark by go­ing eight games with­out a de­feat, the pas­sion­ate coach said he was more proud of the fact he has brought the be­lief back to the club.

‘‘When I bought into this I bought into it whole­heart­edly and the fans were no dif­fer­ent,’’ he said. ‘‘From afar you’ve seen just how much pain and hurt not just the play­ers have gone through, but there’s some re­ally good peo­ple in the back of­fice there who work hard and the coach­ing staff as well – but these fans, they’ve waited a bit of time.

‘‘They were pa­tient at the start of the sea­son as well but I think now they can sense and be­lieve just as those play­ers in the dress­ing room be­lieve as well. Ob­vi­ously there’s a lot of games and a lot of foot­ball to be played as well but you can only take the mo­ments that come your way and they are the mo­ments you need to en­joy.

‘‘What we’re try­ing to do is for all the foot­ball [fol­low­ers] in this coun­try, and that’s one thing I wrote down, can you make an

‘‘It was good to see a smile on their faces. Foot­ball in this coun­try de­serves a lot more. It’s been kicked from pil­lar to post.’’

Mark Ru­dan Phoenix coach

im­pact for ev­ery­body, not just this club? I know there were frac­tured re­la­tion­ships when I came here, I was in­un­dated with in­for­ma­tion and I’m a pretty cu­ri­ous per­son but I think the most im­por­tant thing for this club is the game and we’ve got an op­por­tu­nity to change things at this club and more im­por­tantly change the game here.

‘‘For a long time liv­ing in the other coun­try we used to look over to New Zealand and sort of look down. But one thing I said to my play­ers is as Ki­wis be proud of who you are, get rid of that in­fe­rior com­plex that has been around, that stigma that’s been there for a long time. There’s been great mo­ments for this coun­try against Aus­tralia but can we get more of them?’’

With 22 points to their name, the Phoenix have al­ready sur­passed their to­tal from last sea­son in only 13 games. They are fifth on the lad­der.

‘‘We’ve still got a long way to go but if we can get peo­ple be­liev­ing in this foot­ball club and a good wave, the rip­ple ef­fect goes into the rest of them.

‘‘One thing we need to do is be together. It’s a small coun­try and Welling­ton is a small city as well. If we can get good peo­ple, good foot­ball peo­ple in­volved in the game then hope­fully not just our foot­ball club but the game in [gen­eral] can start to lift.’’

The Phoenix’s next match is away to Mel­bourne Vic­tory, the first of four con­sec­u­tive games against the top-four teams.

GETTY IMAGES

Pas­sion­ate Welling­ton Phoenix coach Mark Ru­dan ac­knowl­edges the back­ing of the club’s Yel­low Fever sup­port­ers af­ter their come­back win over the Cen­tral Coast Mariners. In­set, Phoenix fans are hav­ing plenty of rea­sons to get their shirts off this sea­son.

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