BEFORE the cantankerous university lads start working on their chants in Napier every time Andy Bevin touches the ball, it pays to know the talented youngster has the blessing of his former teammates.
The former Kinetic Electrical Hawke's Bay United striker will be in Waitakere United colours tomorrow when he graces his beloved Bluewater Stadium, in Park Island, during the ASB Premiership clash at 2pm.
"I've talked with the boys [Bay United] and they have sympathy for me," the 19-year-old says after returning from his first year of studies at West Virginia University where he created history in November after collecting a rash of awards.
"Basically, why I did that [go to Waitakere] is to put myself in the eyes of the Olympic coach," Bevin says, after Waitakere coach Neil Emblen asked him to play for the Auckland club so he can watch his progress in the build-up for the London Olympics later this year.
Emblen is the New Zealand Under-23 Olympics team coach, so Bevin felt he was in the frame for selection. Consequently he contacted the coach before he left the United States.
"No one holds anything against me. Everybody is supportive, saying I'm doing the right thing for my career," says the former Napier Boys' High School pupil, excited he'll be in the equation to play up to the O-League level against other elite Pacific Island club teams if he improves his standards.
"It felt really like being at home when I got here [Auckland], so I just want to kick on and keep my place in the O-League," says the Napier City Rovers Club member, who is living in the apartment of Fiji international striker Roy Krishna in the Big Smoke.
Bevin made his debut for Waitakere United last weekend, setting up a couple of goals as the city slickers thrashed YoungHeart Manawatu 7-2 at Memorial Park, Palmerston North.
He is happy the door is open for him to return to the American university but he anticipates the Olympics will cross over with his studies in July/August (when the US varsities begin classes), if Emblen selects him in his only opportunity to represent his country at the Games.
While it won't be his home team at Park Island tomorrow, Bevin will delight in playing against some of his mates while "giving my all to Waitakere".
He wished the Bay all the best but lamented their drop in performance compared with last summer.
"It's frustrating that we were improving in the past few years and now we're taking a step backwards. That's so disappointing."
Bay interim coach Chris Greatholder was regularly in touch with Bevin, arguably the only successful Bay franchise product, and wished him all the best.
WHO: Hawke's Bay United v Waitakere United
WHERE: Bluewater Stadium, Napier.
WHEN: Tomorrow , 2pm kick-off.
Referee: Campbell-Kirk Waugh.
Head to head: Played 18, Hawke's Bay 3 wins, Waitakere 12 wins, 3 draws.
HAWKE'S BAY UNITED form: LDWLL.
The players: Richard Gillespie returns to the squad after a long-term knee injury ruled out the former Auckland City and Waitakere United gloveman for the first half of the season. Jerome Groot is named in the squad pending transfer clearance while Bill Robertson is suspended and Rudi Bauerfiend and Matt Gould are injured.
The vital statistics: Hawke's Bay United 2-1 win over Waitakere United last season was the club's first victory over the West Aucklanders since 2007 when the Bay downed their opponents 3-0 at Bluewater Stadium.
Squad list: 1- Richard Gillespie (GK), 2- Fergus Neil, 3- Alex Barlow, 4- Stu Wilson, 5- Bill Robertson (c), 6- Stephen Hindmarch, 7- Matt Hastings, 8- Adam Cowan, 10- Sam Margetts, 11- Conor Tinnion, 12- Dale Higham, 13- Luke Chapman, 14- Danny Wilson, 16- Reilley O'Meagher, 17- Tom Biss, 18- Hamish Watson, 19- Chris McIvor, 21- Josh Margetts, 22- Jerome Groot, 26- Shaun Peta (GK).
Coach: Chris Greatholder.
WAITAKERE UNITED form: LWWLW.
The players: Bill Tuiloma returns to the LA Galaxy after securing a contract with the MLS club's youth set-up. Aaron Scott and Ryan Zoghby remain on the long term injured list, while in further bad news that Luke Adams' Derby County trial has ended after the youngster damaged his ACL.
The vital statistics: Jake Butler made his 100th ASB Premiership career appearance in the win over Manawatu and joins Allan Pearce as the only current squad member at Waitakere to achieve the milestone. Waitakere have won three and drawn one in their last four visits to Bluewater Stadium a record that dates back to 2007.
Squad list: 1-Danny Robinson (GK), 2- Jason Rowley, 4-Tim Myers, 7- Martin Bullock, 8-Chris Bale, 10-Allan Pearce, 11- Ross McKenzie, 12-Roy Krishna, 14- Andy Bevin, 15- Gagame Feni, 16-Neil Emblen, 17-Jake Butler (c), 22- Matt Upton (GK), 25- Sean Lovemore, 29- Jordan Vale, 30- Rory Turner.
Coach: Neil Emblen.