Carl Shailer, still going after joining Wairarapa United in 2002. PHOTO/FILE
By Gary Caffell
It will be a time to celebrate when Carl Shailer takes the field for Wairarapa United in their Central League football fixture with Palmerston North Marist at Memorial Park, Masterton this coming Saturday.
For Shailer it will be his 250th appearance for Wairarapa United’s premier side, the very first of which came way back in 2002.
It is a record unparalleled in Wairarapa United history and made even more impressive by the fact that right from the beginning Shailer has struggled with a hip problem, which is now restricting his movement quite severely and could spell the end of his playing career any time soon.
Wairarapa United coach Phil Keinzley labels Shailer, who started off in the premier side as a right winger before becoming a regular at right fullback, as the sort of player every coach dreams of having.
“You know what you are going to get every time he steps out there,” Keinzley said.
“He’s an absolute 100 per center, he gives you everything he’s got from the word go, there are no short cuts or rest periods with Carl.”
Keinzley said Shailer’s speed and clever footballing brain made him particularly effective at fullback as it meant he could often outflank the cover defence during attacking raids started from deep inside his team’s own territory.
“We’ve scored a lot of goals over the years through Carl’s ability to catch the opposition defences off guard, he gives you extra options which can make all the difference to an end result.”.
Shailer is just one of two players in the current Wairarapa United squad — Seule Soromon is the other — who was part of the team which created headlines all over the country by winning the Chatham Cup in 2011 and Keinzley, who was also coach then, recalls him being a vital cog in that line-up.
“We had two or three real pressure games and guys like Carl seemed to revel in the pressure, the better the opposition the better he seemed to play.”
With Wairarapa United currently at the top of the Central League points table and Palmerston North Marist struggling to keep off the bottom the form book would suggest a comfortable Wairarapa United win.
However Keinzley is quick to point to the fact that PNM recently drew with a strong Western Suburbs side 2-2 and will have taken considerable confidence from that effort.
“I honestly think it is one of those seasons where you can never guarantee results no matter where teams sit on the table,” Keinzley said.
“There’s likely to be an upset or two every week and it would be silly to take anything for granted.”
Two former longtime Wairarapa United players in Adam Cowan — who actually captained the Chatham Cup-winning side — and Nathan Cooksley are likely to be part of the PNM line-up while Wairarapa United will almost certainly be without Cory Chettleburgh, who was red carded in Wairarapa United’s 2-1 win over Lower Hutt a fortnight ago.