Star coach Kevin Fallon promises a fight over sacking

By Vaimoana Tapaleao, Terry Maddaford

Legal showdown looms after Mt Albert gives Fallon the boot for allegedly swearing at rival.

Kevin Fallon.
Kevin Fallon.

Players on a top Auckland college football team are said to be planning to boycott games - and even threatening to leave the school - after their coach was sacked.

Kevin Fallon, the former All Whites coach, has been involved with Mt Albert Grammar School's football teams and academy for 18 years. His involvement has led to almost 30 local and national titles.

Late last week, Fallon was told he was no longer needed. His departure follows an alleged sideline incident involving an opposing school, the facts of which are disputed.

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The decision has left players gutted. "The kids are just really upset," said a parent who wanted to remain anonymous. "They adored Kevin."

Fallon told the Herald that being sacked after 18 years was hard and legal action was now likely.

"In secondary school sport that is unprecedented. I was called to a disciplinary meeting last Thursday ...

"They want to fire me and hope I go away quietly but that isn't going to happen."

The parent said a number of the 1st XI's top players, including her son, were planning to boycott this weekend's match. Others were thinking of leaving the school altogether.

"Lots of these kids chose Mt Albert Grammar because they want to be coached by Kevin. It's a loyalty thing and now that he's not going to be here, what's the point? They looked up to him. He didn't just coach them about football, but about life."

While Fallon and controversy have often gone hand in hand, he claims the latest incident on which this decision appeared to have been based was a storm in a teacup.

It is alleged he swore at the opposing coach late in his team's 4-1 win over Westlake Boys High School - something Fallon vehemently denies.

"They said I swore at their coach, which is not true, and I have people who were there who will support me in this."

Mt Albert headmaster Dale Burden did not want to discuss the circumstances surrounding the coach's departure, but praised his work.

"The school is grateful for his 18 years of service and we're grateful for the work he's put in and the success that that hard work has brought for boys' football."

Mr Burden said the decision to end Fallon's employment was his.

"There were a whole lot of factors to take into consideration and things had obviously happened before Thursday's meeting."

Fallon said he was upset that his players were not told of the school's decision until just before their match on Saturday, when Mt Albert were thumped 7-0 by Sacred Heart College.

Tony Porter, father of Jake, 16, a key member of the 1st XI, described the situation as a "bit of an upheaval".

"Some of the players are undecided whether they will carry on [playing in the 1st XI]."

Losing players could not come at a worse time for Mt Albert, as it will host the annual inter-school competition with St Kentigern College, across a number of sports, on Saturday.

Mr Porter said that after Saturday's game - when they were beaten by the biggest margin in Fallon's time at the school - the players were distraught and the team's captain was moved to tears during the after-match speeches.

"They feel they haven't been treated fairly. The boys who train under Kevin Fallon like him, as they show in turning up at 6.30am four days a week to train. The players have taken this to heart."

Paul Marshall, who has successfully coached the school's girls 1st XI, will take over from Fallon in the meantime. The school plans to name a permanent replacement before the end of this term.

Kevin Fallon

• Started career with Sligo Rovers and played 102 games in various tournaments including the League of Ireland Championship.
• Assistant coach to All Whites manager John Adshead. The team qualified for the World Cup finals in Spain in 1982.
• Took on sole charge in May 1985.
• Father of former All White Rory Fallon.
• Sept 2008: Auckland Grammar pulls out of the Auckland knockout cup final against Mt Albert after Fallon allegedly manhandles one of its players while breaking up a brawl.
• Aug 2009: Fallon banned for a season following complaints he accused a referee of bias.
• Sep 2012: A parent from a rival team complains Fallon made offensive remarks towards his son.
• May 2013: Fallon banned from making on-field decisions after complaints about his behaviour.

- NZ Herald

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