In the Nick of Time, Martin Saves Wellington College First XI

Story courtesy of College Sport Media

Lunchtime on Monday at Wellington College was unorthodox. Two days prior to the First XI football team contesting the Trevor Rigby Cup Memorial final against Hutt International Boys’ School (HIBS) penalty shootout practice involved a bunch of bostitrious boys with a free licence to distract as much as they liked.

 

“The idea was to emulate the crowd and pressure of a real shootout,” goalie Nick Martin explained.

 

“It got quite personal, worse than what you’d hear at a real game. At Tuesday practice we even rehearsed the walk a shooter takes from halfway. It was pretty intense.”

 

The meticulous, but somewhat chaotic, preparation worked a treat. Wellington College beat HIBS 4-2 on penalties to successfully defend the Trevor Rigby Cup title at Petone Memorial. 

Wellington didn’t miss a shot with Martin making two lunging saves in both directions. HIBS second shooter was palmed left, the winning moment saw Martin flash and punch right. 

 

“I like to jump up and touch the bar. I’m not the biggest guy so I try to make myself look bigger, I look into the strikers eyes and can generally tell by their body shape which way they might go.

“The last shooter was a left footer. He didn’t do anything obvious so I backed myself to go right which is typically where a leftie shoots.

 

“He took a lot of time to place the ball which added to the suspense. He was nervous. I remember going down then getting up running crazy. The aderlain took over even before I was swallowed up by the crowd.”

 

Martin was hoisted onto the shoulders of euphoric schoolmates, triumphantly chanting.

A handful of days earlier Martin had a chip on his shoulder. Wellington needed a draw against HIBS to guarantee their place in the Premier decider, a position Martin felt his team shouldn’t have been in. 

 

“We started the season really well. We beat Rongotai College 9-1 in a traditional, and Scots College 2-0 which was awesome.

“Unfortunately we then had some bad results. I had a couple of shockers so we were definitely the underdogs against HIBS who were leaders all season.”

 

Wellington College led the final after 22 seconds. Striker Henri Nischalke bagged his 18th goal in 20 games.

“I wasn’t even focused. I was still taking the crowd in. That was pretty unreal,” Martin enthused.

 

HIBS boasted some real attacking threats and pressed hard for an equaliser, especially after halftime. In the 72nd minute Sam Roiga converted a “soft” but “fair” penalty. In the last ten minutes HIBS hit the post woodwork and missed an open goal by a few inches. 

 

“We knew they’d come out firing. We got the early momentum but honestly I think we ran ourselves into the ground and were holding on for penalties,” Martin said.

“The free kick I just managed to tip onto the bar. The shot by Sam (Roiga) bounced between the crossbar and the post. I was genuinely beaten by Lucas Jelly. I lost my footing and wouldn’t have made it if he was on target.”

 

Martin wasn’t on target in his only previous penalty shootout. Playing for Onslow against Island Bay he was beaten aged ten.

“I couldn’t even remember that until someone told me. We love winning at WC so it’s pretty special to peak in the final.

“My twin brother Paddy does our social media graphics. Some students confused him for me at school yesterday which was pretty hilarious.” 

 

Coach Stu Widdowson has guided the First XI for 126 games. Despite only three returning players from the 2021 championship roster he has helped Wellington College win their 13th Trevor Rigby Cup since 2001. 

 

Wellington College also won the 2011 and 2013 finals on penalties.