Dad's Army - 10 Years Strong
By Ramesh Ganesan
Dad’s Army was formed by Mike Wood (now in Whanganui) in March 2011. Mike wanted to create a space for ‘retired’ and ‘newly interested’ footballers to come play regular football in a non-pressurised environment. The formation of a Masters 5 league provided an opportunity to do this. There were barely 11 players in that first year, mostly a rag tag bunch with everyone taking a turn in goal. Somehow, we got through the season without finishing last which is a miracle. We did have a secret weapon however in ‘Tony, I need a smoke at half-time’ who was the most natural goal scorer in the league. He would sometimes take on an entire defence on his own either by silky skills or smashing against aging bones.
The second year brought about the semblance of a football team, with a few more recruits who actually had some previous football experience. Although I am the only survivor from that first year, there are several that have stayed on since 2012 including Ian Macrae, Gary Tapp, Karuna and Manli Chin. Over the next couple of years, we started to build some credible results with help from friendly fill-ins when short. Army started to attract a lot of dads that were involved in managing or coaching junior teams and didn’t have the time to rush into a serious football game. The club arranged for our games to start at 2.30pm allowing many more dads to come join the ranks.
Football was almost secondary to the camaraderie, knowing the football we play, it was almost impossible not to have a laugh a minute. Sometimes we almost represented the famous TV comedy with matching characters. However, Mike achieved what he wanted, a solid group of people playing the game for the love of it not just for the winning. Incredibly Mike managed the team by always putting it first even though he hardly stepped on to the field. A lot of us dads cannot express enough our gratitude to Mike for giving us his time and providing us the chance to play the game we love. In his last year as Manager in 2016, we won the Masters 5 cup in a penalty shoot-out with Seatoun.
Losing Mike to Whanganui in 2017 was a big loss but thank goodness Brett Crowley (BC) stepped up to run the team. Brett was instrumental in keeping the team going and getting us a bit more organised. The following year we had a lot more applicants and another Masters team was formed built from the summer softball teams and aptly named the Softballers. However, the Softballers only lasted a season and with quite a few retirements from Army the two teams were merged. I co-managed the team with BC in 2018 and in 2019 took on the management duties.
It’s a special year this year with it being 10 years since formation and there will be a couple of extra activities. We have tried to stay true to Mike’s intentions and the team is still full of ‘busy’ dads. The team has grown stronger with a number of new recruits and the quality of football played has steadily gotten better over the last couple of years, however, our first and foremost intention is to have fun and I think we do that pretty well. The good things is, we’ve managed to keep almost the same team since 2019 which bodes well going forward. Long term servants that have left the team but must be recognised include Bill, Stevie G, Simon Brier, BC, Steve Dennis, Lee Read, Dave George, Darin, the legendary Ian Taylor (Squizz) who kept running at full speed up to the age of 68 and of course Mike Wood.
The 2021 team is captained by Nick Warren and includes Mike Kelly, Karuna, Lyall Pow, John G, Rames Perumal, Ivan Walker, Gavin Pillay, Lawsy, Karl Payne, Bruce Simms, Gary Tapp, Manli Chin, Clint Williams, Sukanit Seefa, Darren Knight, Ian Angus and Marcel. We also have the ability to call on the experience of Ian Macrae when needed. A good bunch of lads who get stuck in and help where and when they can. Special thanks to John Gallagher who has been providing refreshments support after every game and to Lawsy our Assistant Manager. GO THE ARMY!