Soccer: The master of many fields

By Anendra Singh

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Goal keeper Adrian Stockill.
Goal keeper Adrian Stockill.

Soccer coach Bruce Macdonald didn't have a clue but the cat will be out of the bag for goalkeeper Adrian Stockill today.

The New Zealand Masters team gloveman from Hawke's Bay did something that would make many coaches in any code cringe, if not lose their rag.

A fortnight ago, Stockill was playing at the annual national Masters game in Dunedin when he would whip off his gloves on a Sunday after each game to slip on a bib to take part in the track-and-field segment of the athletics competition.

"Football was my main reason for the trip but athletics was on at the same time on the adjacent fields so I thought why not relive my old schoolboy days," says the 47-year-old business development manager for engineering consultancy firm Worley Parsons.

Instead of making small talk with teammates between their soccer matches, Stockill snuck away to sign up for the high jump, discus, shotput and long jump events.

"I couldn't do the long jump because it clashed with the football final [at the covered Forsyth Barr Stadium]."

Needless to say, when he confessed to wife Karen Stockill what he was up to she laughed and was concerned about his welfare although he hastened to add he wasn't about to attempt the triple jump to test the suppleness of his body.

"I did long jump and triple jump at school but I wasn't going to try the triple," he says with a laugh.

Well, the Port Hill United Soccer Club member was unable to finish the long jump but he came away with three gold medals in the other disciplines in the 45-49 age-group category.

To add the icing on the cake, the New Zealand Masters soccer team clinched gold, beating Malchester Rovers (Christchurch) 1-0, to retain the title they had won in Wanganui last year (the Masters games is alternated between the two cities each year).

It'll be interesting to see what Macdonald's reaction will be towards the 1.93m goalkeeper although gold in soccer will help.

A stickler for pre-match rituals, the coach would most certainly have stymied any thoughts of engaging in field-and-track events for fear of injury, lethargy or mere distraction.

"I didn't dare tell Bruce what I was going to do.

"You know what he's like in football. He doesn't like distractions so I had to do it secretly."

A chuckling Stockill recalls how he returned from the long jump pit at the event where 20 to 40 codes competed simultaneously from Saturday, February 1, to Sunday, February 9, in the South Island city to put a curious Macdonald at ease.

"He wanted to know where I had been and I'd say, 'Oh, I've just been warming up'," he says.

Karen said her husband once returned from the shotput enclosure in such a rush to make the soccer match he almost gave the game away.

"He still had his athletics bib with the competitor's number on it so I had to help him rip it off his chest."

The England-born Napier couple had a quiet dinner at a city restaurant, sharing a bottle of red wine - the night BEFORE the soccer final.

"Karen was supporting and cheering me on in the field events," he says, adding his wife was "quietly impressed" with his athletics prowess after her initial reaction of disbelief.

Officials asked him if he wanted to carry on to see if he got close to his personal best but he informed them he hadn't competed for almost 30 years.

Stockill hails from Yorkshire, where he attended Ripon Grammar School and had a penchant for throwing discus.

The Stockills settled in Napier in late 1994. Karen was pregnant with their first child, Josie, as they followed the mother's brother, Martin Bayfield, in the British Lions rugby tour to McLean Park, on June 22, 1993.

The Magpies won 29-17 but the Stockills fell in love with the place and returned 18 months later.

Josie, 20, is a talented NZ age-group basketballer in her second year of a science degree scholarship at Colgate University in New York.

Son William, 17, is a goalkeeper with the Hawke's Bay United Youth team but has warmed the bench this summer. He will start a commerce degree at Victoria University, Wellington, next week.

Oscar, 15, is a striker in his dad's fourth-grade Port Hill side but will graduate to the elite ranks after another season with the oldies.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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