Beckham Wheeler-Greenall is from a passionate and accomplished football family. Three of his uncles played for Otago United and Wheeler-Greenall is named after David Beckham, the former Manchester United and England star.
Last week at the National First XI tournament in Napier, Wheeler-Greenall produced a Beckham like moment which helped King’s High School, Dunedin eliminate Auckland Premier league champions, and pre-tournament favourites, Saint Kentigern College in the Round of 16.
Wheeler-Greenall scored a goal from halfway when St Kent’s was flooding forward in desperate pursuit of an equaliser.
“We were 1-0 ahead with about three minutes to go,” Wheeler-Greenall recalled.
“St Kent’s pushed all their players forward and headed the ball into our box. One of our defenders managed to touch it away. I turned and took a touch on halfway and noticed their goalie was out of the box. I kicked it dead straight and it went in. It’s the best goal I’ve ever scored. It total was madness.”
St Kent’s responded swiftly, but an earlier strike by Raven August secured the Presbyterians' demise.
“Raven’s goal was a great finish. Against the run of play the ball was bobbling around the box. I touched it to Raven who touched it back to me. I touched it back to Raven and he had a crack and beat the keeper from 20 yards,” Wheeler-Greenall acclaimed.
King’s High School's cautious tactics and sturdy defense ensured a goalless first-half. Halftime brought about a change in tactics.
“The St Kent’s game was awesome. Everybody stepped up and played their best. We decided to sit back, get numbers behind the ball, and watch in the first-half. When they couldn’t score, our confidence grew and we started to play our own game. They were definitely rattled. It was a great effort from all the boys,” Wheeler-Greenall enthused.
King’s were arguably better in the quarter finals the next day against another Auckland powerhouse, Mount Albert Grammar School. First-half goals to Jan Ackmann and Kaleb De Groot Green secured another 2-1 victory.
“The boys were really up after the St Kent’s game. Once we beat St Kent’s we knew we could beat anyone. We had some chances in the second-half and could have won by more,” Wheeler-Greenall observed.
King’s impressive run would end in the semi-finals against Auckland Grammar School, but a fourth place finish is the highest ever achieved by King’s at Nationals.
“Our goal was to get out of our group and if we’d finished in the top eight we would have been ecstatic. To finish top four and beat arguably the best team there was awesome,” Wheeler-Greenall surmised.
King’s started the tourney in emphatic fashion thumping King’s College, Auckland 4-0. However lapses in concentration saw King’s earn a lucky 2-2 draw against Waimea College and sneak out of the group.
“We played really well on the first morning to beat King’s. We expected to beat Waimea, but dropped our guard. Tom Poole made a safe in that game that kept us in the tournament,” Wheeler-Greenall conceded.
A lack of competition locally might explain their lack of edge against Waimea. King’s won their local five-team league this year, beating the second XI in the final.
King’s also swept their four annual inter-school fixtures against Southland Boys’ High School, Wakatipu High School, Mount Aspiring School and Waitaki Boys’ High School; the Waitaki score was 16-1!
King’s lose six players from the 2019 team next year.
In the summer Wheeler-Greenall is a right arm off spin bowler and opening batsman in the First XI cricket team.
King’s drew with Southland Boys’ High School and beat Waitaki Boys’ High School in their inter-school cricket exchanges and qualified for the Otago Regional final against Otago Boys’ High School which will decide Otago’s National representative.
Wheeler-Greenall has a top score of 94 not out against Waitaki and best bowling figures of 4/16 against Southland. He is a member of the New Zealand Under 19 wider training squad.
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