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Promising signs for Douglas Villa

Getting the best out of his talented players is the aim of Tumu Douglas Villa coach Mark Taylor as the team takes their first steps in Capital Football Division One tomorrow.

Douglas Villa won promotion after finishing runners-up in Division Two in 2023, and the players will have their first taste of what lies ahead in the third-tier competition, below only Central League and Capital Premier, when they take on North Wellington Reserves at Alex Moore Park, Johnsonville.

Aware of the challenges ahead, the experienced Taylor and assistant coach Riki Riddell have recruited wisely for their second year at the helm and have assembled a squad of about 22 players, with the added aim of also building a solid reserves team that will play in the Wairarapa Local League Division One.

“We’ve got about 10 new players to come in, and they include established players from other clubs, a couple from Wairarapa and a few from over the hill,” Taylor said.

“But also, we’ve got some young players who have come in and have been training and playing for us during the preseason and have been doing really well, and they’re all part of the squad.

“We’ve been promoted, and we want to be successful, and the higher up we go, we’ve got to have some depth, and the other bit is we need to have a decent reserve side, and that’s a bit of a focus for the club this year.

“It’s a good thing to have, and it means that players need to compete for places and be at their best, and that is what a football team is all about.”

Former national league player Alex Cox, who played a few games for Douglas Villa last year but was living in Dunedin and is now based in Wellington, joins his brother Chris Cox [the team captain] and is a quality signing.

Ed De Lara-Bell, who has been in and out of the first team; Sam Jonas – a talented right back from Rathkeale; Brodie Dick – ex-Wairarapa College, who has been playing senior football at Island Bay; Max Mitchell from Greytown; Travis Booth from Masterton, Isaac Higgins from Petone [previously Greytown], Zach Anstis ex-Waicol, and Waicol 1st XI players Jordie Fennell, and Jayden English are the other newcomers.

Goalkeeper Ben Burnley, Willie Syben, Liam Gale, Jamie McMaster and Cook Island international Tremaine Rimene-Albrett are missing from last year’s squad. Jayden Watt will take over the goalkeeping duties.

Douglas Villa had preseason games in the Hilton Petone Cup Division Two, with two wins [6–0 over Naenae and 6–1 over Tawa Reserves] two 1–1 draws with Te Kotahitanga [the combined Kapiti- Horowhenua club] and Waterside-Karori Reserves, and a 3–0 loss to Island Bay.

“We’re really happy with how the preseason’s gone, and it just leads into the season nicely,” Taylor said.

“We know we’ve got some really good players in there, and it’s just getting the best out of them and just continuing the work we’ve done in the preseason.

“We’ve got lots of good young players, and what I really want to do is put these guys into situations where they’re having to play above themselves, and we’ve already seen where their talent’s at.”

Taylor admits to knowing little about North Wellington other than it is the club’s second team behind their Central League side.

“They’re a reserve team, and for us, we’re a club’s first team, and we’ve got to understand that, and there are some high standards we have to set for ourselves.

“We just want to go and compete and get used to the competition, and we’ll keep resetting our targets as the season goes on, but let’s get the first game out of the way; we want to win that.

“On the day, adapting to different players and situations and making sure we worry about ourselves and get our own game plan sorted out, and that’s effective; we’ve got guys who want to attack and score goals, and that is what the emphasis is going to be.

“It’s just exciting to go in with the start that we’ve had so far,” Taylor concluded.

Greyfriars Motel Greytown will commence their Capital Two campaign on Saturday, April 6, the same day that the Wairarapa Local Leagues kick off.

Chris Cogdale
Chris Cogdale
Chris “Coggie” Cogdale has extensive knowledge of sport in Wairarapa having covered it for more than 30 years, including radio for 28 years. He has been the sports guru at the Wairarapa Times-Age since 2019.

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