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.
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