By Gary Caffell
The latest signing for Wairarapa United’s 2017 Central League football squad has already had his moment of glory on world-wide television.
Alex Ridsdale was playing for Xavier University in the United States last year when he scored a spectacular bicycle kick goal which was rated at number six on ESPN’s SportsCentre’s top 10 plays of the day.
Now playing for Tasman in the national league Ridsdale appealed to Wairarapa United coach Phil Keinzley as a “good catch” for several reasons.
“He’s fast, he’s got height and he’s a proven goal scorer, that’s not bad for starters,” Keinzley said.
The fact he can fill roles other than striker also impressed, as did his keen footballing brain.
Versatile he may be, but Keinzley sees Ridsdale’s main value to Wairarapa United being his attacking skills.
Keinzley is excited at the extra dimension he will bring to a forward line which will also include other noted finishers in Paul Ifill and Sam Mason-Smith.
“If you look back on last season there was a lot of pressure on Paul and Sam to score the goals and that meant opposing teams knew that if they could be marked out of a game then their own chances of success would be that much better.
“Having Alex there will give us a third target man and hopefully that will allow more space for Paul and Sam to do their stuff.”
Ridsdale showed huge potential at football from a young age.
Invariably at striker, he was a star at Nelson College, Nayland College and Mt Albert Grammar and represented New Zealand at under-17 level before taking up a football scholarship at Xavier.
He scored eight goals in 18 appearances in his final season with Xavier to finish as their leading goal-scorer.
Mason-Smith’s match winning qualities were never better illustrated than in the shock 2-1 win scored by Hawke’s Bay over six-times national league champions Auckland City over the weekend.
For the second week in succession Mason-Smith came up with a double for the Bay, first levelling the scores in the 71st minute and then coming up with the decider in the 89th minute with a clever chip shot.
Ifill also got himself on the scoreboard for Tasman in their latest national league fixture with Waitakere United, which finished in a 2-2 draw.
And it was a typical Ifill stunner — the ball being curled into the top far corner of the net from all off 25m out.
While it has been the newcomers to the Wairarapa United squad such as former All White Cameron Lindsay and Fijian stars Jeshal Kumar and Brian Kaltack who have captured the recent headlines, coach Keinzley is also intent on giving a number of youngsters who have experienced CL action in the past the chance to make his squad.
Among those who were invited to attend first of the season’s official training sessions last night were Alex Cox, Liam Heard, Liam Kerr, Callan Elliott, Alex Britton, Tom Scott and Taylor Hall-Jones and Keinzley is optimistic that the bulk of them will again be challenging strongly for regular places in the club’s premier line-up.