“I was scared when I saw it hit the post. We’d already had a couple of near misses. I struck it where I wanted, but I honestly thought it had missed,” Zander Edwards recalls of his first goal in the Trevor Rigby Cup final for Wellington College against Scots College.
Down 1-2 at halftime, Wellington leveled after an hour when Edwards swiftly latched onto a swirling ball and shot between two defenders from 20 yards.
“When it went in I was like this could be our day. It didn’t feel like that earlier.”
Wellington tumbled behind again when Rory Best turned George and netted a third for Scots but Wellington had unflinching faith in their attacking methodology.
“We planned to hit them on attack. We’ve scored a lot of goals this season and you are not going to beat the champions by sitting back. Sometimes we were up too high which left us exposed at the back but generally we’ve got that balance right this season.”
Wellington's third goal was scored when they out-committed Scots in the penalty area.
“I’m not sure what happened but the ball was bouncing around and I thought I’d put it into the back of the net. Scots protested the goal. I heard a high pitch screech, but I don’t think there was anything in it.”
There is plenty of courage in the DNA of Cooper Duggan. The experienced striker hobbled off just prior to halftime, but returned with half an hour remaining, eventually setting up the winner for Edwards with a sizzling burst down the left wing.
“Cooper is a wonderful player, it’s a real privilege to play with him. He is dangerous anytime he gets the ball. He can create as well as score. It was brave of him to come back on, but I wasn’t surprised because we needed him.”
Wellington was able to play more cautiously with the lead, but it wasn’t comfortable.
“It kind of fell apart because Scots got back in our half and had a few shots on goal. We were basically playing for the whistle and didn’t realise there were five minutes of extra time.”
The blustery wind was another tax.
“A wind like Saturday changes the whole complexion of the game. In one half you can hit the long ball but against the breeze you have to play on the deck and weigh your passes.
“Our ground is quite exposed so we often train in the wind. Cones and goals blow over. I honestly think the strong wind was an advantage for us.”
Edwards has given Wellington College an advantage since arriving from Rathkeale College in 2019. In just his second game for Wellington he scored four goals in a staggering 10-0 win against St Patrick’s College, Wellington. In 2021 he scored 21 goals in 18 games and finished the Trevor Rigby Cup as the golden boot winner.
He was born in Northampton, England and supports Arsenal. He is involved with the Miramar Rangers club.
Hamish Wareham is a guru of Wellington Secondary Schools Football and observed:
“Zander is the first player in Trevor Rigby Cup final history to score a hat-trick. I’ve never seen a final like Saturday’s, unbelievable. Wellington struggled to contain Alden Suri in the first-half, Scots' lethal talisman scoring twice. Once Alden was starved of the ball, Wellington was able to dominate and Zander was deadly in front of goal. What a game. I’m still buzzing.”
Story for College Sport Media by Adam Julian, September 2021.
Four years ago, the Onslow College First XI girls football team were languishing in Premier 2. On Wednesday night they won their first Wellington Premier title since 1993 with a victory on penalties against four-time reigning champions, Wellington Girls’ College.
It was the first time since 2003 when Onslow lost to Samuel Marsden they had been involved in a decider.
Onslow was seventh in the Premiership in 2019, jumping to third last year and then champions by holding their nerve in an 11-shot shootout.
The Ross twins, Hannah and Nicola, have been at the forefront of the ascent. Together they have combined for an estimated 160 games. However central defender Hannah concedes she was petrified when her turn to take a penalty arrived at 5-5.
“I went up to take our sixth shot but had a bit of a panic attack, so Scarlett (O’Donnell) was really brave and went instead. I wasn’t standing there to go next, I was standing there cause I’m a really good friend,” Hannah laughed.
Year 10 Scarlett scored while her sister Eliza O'Donnell watched on in the losing team.
“We're not a very sporty school so it means a lot to us and the school to win this trophy,” Hannah said.
“At halftime we had to settle down, pass more, and get more possession in their half. They scored the first goal, and we did well to keep them out. In the second-half our energy levels were up. It was still very stressful, but getting a goal was a great booster,” she continued.
Golden boot winning striker Olivia Ingham was the source of the goal. Attacking midfielder Nicola was at the fore.
“The great thing about our defence is they can transition quickly onto attack. WGC had a good first-half, but we regrouped at halftime and switched on. We created a lot of opportunities. We’ve got a good balance,” Nicola said.
Wellington Girls’ won the last encounter which went to penalties against Onslow but Hannah insists Onslow had a positive mindset.
“Choose a spot, don’t change your mind, and stay calm was our approach. All the girls were amazing.”
The Ross twins have been in the First XI since Year 9. Their leadership has helped nurture a side that only has another Year 13.
“Our coach Rachel Finlay has been amazing. She is a sports scientist and went to the 2018 Under-17 World Cup with New Zealand. We have got dinner at our place next week to celebrate. It is going to be weird not playing for Onslow next year, but I’m proud of what we’ve done,” Nicola concluded.
Wellington College win blockbuster Trevor Rigby final
Wellington College have won their first Trevor Rigby Cup final since 2013, rallying from behind three times to dethrone reigning champions Scots College 4-3.
The winner in the 2021 Wellington Boys Premier 1 football final was scored with about five minutes remaining when the courageous Cooper Duggan burst down the left wing and crossed to Zander Edwards who calmly slotted it past the keeper to complete an epic second-half hat-trick.
Duggan had hobbled off before halftime and was ginger most of the second-spell, summoning the heart and skill to supply the prolific Edwards.
Despite the horribly blustery conditions the spectacle was top shelf. Wellington controlled early possession and created the better chances, but Scots flyer Alden Suri was first to strike with his right foot from a Tom England turnover.
Oscar Crowe always runs a mile for Wellington College and when he latched onto a Jack Julian pass and evaded two defenders scores were tied.
Scots captain Charlie Bachelor set up Suri on the left and the cartwheels he performed were a joyful showcase of superior talent. The halftime score was 2-1.
Long balls were always a lottery and a combination of a lucky bounce and pace saw Edwards split two Scots tacklers and fire a shot into the right post which rebounded into the back of the net, 2-2.
Wellington kept on pressing but Rory Best emulated Suri’s solo brilliance with a searing bust and short on the right wing to make it 3-2 to Scots.
Wellington’s third was protested by Scots. Multiple shots in the penalty area were blocked by Scots. Defender Thijn Overkamp collapsed in distress as the ball was scrambled towards the right corner. Jack Julian whipped a cross back inside and Edwards, quick as a flash forced it in.
Wellington coach Stu Widdowson celebrated his 100th game in charge with a title at a second school; he'd previously been successful at St Pats Town. Wellington’s record for the season was 22 wins, two defeats and a draw in 25 games. They scored 117 goals.
Interviews and stories by Adam Julian, for College Sport Media and College Sport Wellington, September 2021.
In 1981 New Zealand was split over the Springboks tour as the All Whites commenced a giant killing spree which would see them qualify for the Football World Cup for the first time in 1982. Trevor Francis was the world’s richest player.
In Christchurch, St Bede’s College were the Canterbury First XI champions, winning 17 of 20 matches and out-scoring opponents 71-25.
It would take more than 2,000 weeks for St Bede’s to jump back inside a time machine, but last Wednesday the First XI emulated the feat of their 1981 side by defeating Christ’s College 2-1 in the final of the Connetics Mainland League.
Christ’s topped the round-robin, winning all 11 matches and conceding a stingy three goals. They had beaten St Bede’s 3-0 previously but came unstuck against the gritty Catholics. Goalkeeper Finn Mounty is First XI captain.
“We're a physical team. We don’t shy away from tough tackles. Sure, we give away a few fouls but we pride ourselves on playing old school footy. If you're going to do fancy stuff, you better be good at it,” he said.
Christ’s is a polished team renowned for their pace and superior touch. In accordance with the form book they seized an early lead.
“We started off alright with a chance in the first 30 seconds which was really encouraging. Five minutes later we conceded a corner which we didn’t set up properly for. The ball bobbled around, and they went on to tap it in.
“In the past we might have fallen apart but three minutes later our striker Adam Poumaka scored a really good solo goal. The rest of the half was back and forward.”
Mounty joined the First XI in Year 10. St Bede’s won the Plate final (fifth place) three times from 2018 to 2020. This year the top four was a realistic target.
“We had a core group back, two Year 13 strikers, a centre back and new coaches. We had a bit of a shocker against Papanui High School which was a turning point of our season. We had to be more switched on and when we beat St Thomas who've been very strong, we knew we had the makings of a good side.
“We kept on building and became really tight. We had 25 turning up to Sunday training. Our game is about overloading the midfield and cutting off supply for key attackers in the opposition. Cashmere High scored the most goals in the league. We kept them to nil twice to make the final. Christ’s are a quick, possession-based team and we noticed they started rushing things and getting frustrated.”
Without New Zealand Under 19 selection Daniel Metherell, Christ’s was truly strangled. The winning moment for St Bede’s happened in the 83rd minute.
“I sent the ball forwards and one of our players who identified a gap in Christ's defence, passing it through to Josh Coe. Josh changed direction from left to right and shot past the keeper. It was unbelievable. After that we had to dig in our heels.”
St Bede’s thwarted desperate Christ's raids and prevailed 2-1. Managing the team was Chris Hubble; managing the 1981 team was his father Simon, then a staff member. This victory was a big deal among old boys.
“We got a lot of messages thanking us, supporting us, it was unreal. I think a lot of people were really surprised. It’s been such a long time,” Mounty said.
Ironically Ollie Hawkins who coached St Bede’s last season was in charge of Christ’s. St Bede’s was coached by Atticus Jones (23) and Luke Ziswiler-Hayton, a member of the First XI in 2020.
“Luke applied for the job and the school had the confidence in his leadership to pick him. He’s doing a couple of coaching courses and our leadership group talked about treating him with respect. Obviously, he’s my mate, but there had to be a little distance and we all agreed about that.
“Like most boys we enjoy talking a bit of rubbish and because Atticus and Luke are still playing, they could take part in a lot of the drills with us and that made training more fun and challenging.”
Mounty plays his club football for Ferrymead Bays and worked “pretty much fulltime” for Countdown during lockdown. He is the head of the First XV supporters club - notorious for a parochial chanting and chainsaw racket.
“We play on a Wednesday night, the First XV on a Saturday afternoon. I keep the chainsaw at home, but I’m only allowed to use it at home games under certain conditions. I had to sign a contract with the Rector. I can’t go into specifics that would be sacrilege, but it’s fair to say I’m pretty proud to go to St Bede’s. "
Interview and story by Adam Julian, for College Sport Media, September 2021.
“I’m not usually a player that does a skill beforehand,” Charlotte Roche (Year 12) giggles when pondering her favourite goal in the Canterbury Premier Girls’ First XI football final.
The striker scored a hat-trick as St Andrew’s College crushed Rangi Ruru Girls' School 5-0 to capture Sport Canterbury honours following two previous defeats in deciders.
“I was super grateful to have a game coming out of lockdown, especially a final. It was quite surprising how well we played because everyone’s fitness during lockdown went down,” Roche said
“It could have gone either way. Rangi played really well. We were lucky we got on top early otherwise we might have felt the pressure.”
Roche scored the first goal of the game, latching onto a brilliant pass, just outside the box, delivered from halfway.
“That was all Amelia McAllister. The credit’s all hers. We have been playing together since we were five years old and she’s super talented.
“My strengths are running on to through balls, speed, and I like one on one contests with the keeper.”
St Andrew’s had beaten Rangi Ruru 8-0 in the first game of 2021 but their opponents became battle-hardened in their first Premiership season for over a decade. Roche was weary of their threat.
“They improved massively throughout the season, holding Christchurch Girls’ High School to a draw and training hard to beat us in lockdown.
“We have gone into the last three finals winning most of our games and then the pressure has got to us. I think the enthusiasm of playing after lockdown helped.”
St Andrew’s led 3-0 at halftime and Roche applied the explanation mark with two second-half goals.
“There was one I scored where I did some skill and that was one I was really excited about. I’m just super grateful to have had a game. It’s really exciting.
“We lost the two previous finals to Burnside. They are a really good side and they were close games we could have won, but we let the occasion get the better of us.”
St Andrew’s won all nine Premier fixtures, outscoring opponents 41-7. Roche identified two goals she scored against Christchurch Girls’ High School as a highlight.
In 2019 she was named in the New Zealand Secondary Schools squad that was scheduled to tour the USA before the arrival of COVID-19. She has also been involved with the New Zealand Under-17 programme.
“That was awesome to go up against other players and experience a New Zealand set up.
“It's really exciting to be in football at the moment with the Phoenix joining the A-League. With the uncertainty of COVID it gives players something to aspire to. I think I’m a long way off that, but it’s going to be cool to watch all the other players.”
Roche has already competed against some of New Zealand’s elite senior talent. She plays her club football for Waimakariri United in the Mainland Premier League. The competition was won by Coastal Spirit who won all 15 matches and outscored opposition 117-6 making them one of the best teams in the country. Coach Juan Chang mentors St Andrew’s with support from Canterbury pride head Alana Gunn.
“I’m really lucky to have good coaches. Juan and Alana Gunn put so much time in and their record speaks for itself.”
Roche has ambitions to be a doctor but her desire to play football has only strengthened over lockdown. The next big event are national age group tournaments, dates yet to be confirmed in December.
Story by Adam Julian, for College Sport Media, September 2021.
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