GISBORNE football these days can have no better advert than former Lytton High School student Corey Adams.
He has established himself as a regular on either wing for former All Whites coach Kevin Fallon’s Mt Albert Grammar side.
Adams, on a one-year football scholarship with Mt Albert, has helped them maintain their standing as one of the leading secondary school teams in the country.
Under former Gisborne City centreback and coach Fallon, the Mount have dominated the highly rated Auckland secondary school championship over the past decade or so.
This year they are again in the running for the title, although Fallon says a couple of early-season losses could cost them the top spot.
“Even so, we are in the final of the Auckland schools knockout cup,” he said.
“Corey has lived up to expectations. He has pace, enthusiasm and the skill to get down the wings and get in good crosses.
“But he is also a credit to everyone . . . his family, friends, school and town. He works hard on his game and is a good team man.
“It also says a lot for the football base in Gisborne through the schools and the Eastern League competitions that they keep producing youngsters who have a good grounding in all aspects of what it takes to become a good team player.”
Well done, Corey! No doubt big Kev will be back in his old haunts again this season looking for more players.
In the Eastern League tomorrow, Gisborne Thistle play Gisborne Boys’ High School at Childers Road Reserve at 2.30pm in a game that should be every bit as good as previous encounters this season.
Player-coaches Dave Watson and Jason Scott have done a wonderful job with Boys’ High, and John Stirton has similarly got the best out of his well-balanced Thistle squad.
Anything can happen in this one. It should be a real Eastern League classic.
Gisborne United go to Wainui to play the Sharks at 2.30pm and here again are two excellent squads.
If at full strength, Wainui will be hard to beat on their ground. But United have gone from strength to strength this season and they, too, have a fine squad with the potential to beat any team in the league.
The Eastern League continues to serve up exciting games because the teams are all so evenly matched.
Thistle have been the most consistent side but they, too, have had their setbacks.
They still look the team to beat because their side is particularly well balanced with a steady defence, clever midfield and strikers who get goals.
Stirton has used big Shaun Leeper as a lone target-man at times and he has done a remarkably good job against strong defences.
He and newcomer Jason Burgess have made a dangerous combination. Leeper may be getting on in years but he still lasts the pace well.
Thistle are also strong at the other end of the park. They have one of the most reliable goalkeepers in the district in Raymond Rickard, who does a sound job behind an equally mean defensive unit, usually organised by Roger Faber.
It is a championship-winning formula, but this doesn’t stop their challengers from knocking them off their stride at times.
Boys’ High seem to get better every week . . . not surprising as the side is packed with skilful players.
Wingers Josh Harris, Cheauxyan Maukau-McPhee and James Bristow are brilliant on the ball.
At the back, School have an excellent rearguard. Keeper Jacob Moorcroft has safe hands and his anticipation is top-class.
In front of him, defenders Jake Robertson, Dane Thompson, Christian Tafau, Daniel Ray and Jordan Peipi have been in top form all season.
The battle for midfield will be fierce. The Jags have David Raggett, Phil Gill, Jono Henry and Steve Morrow to dictate the tempo of the game.
Boys’ High are brilliantly led by player-coaches Watson and Scott, and have Jared McMillan and Jesse Sadlier, who can attack or defend strongly as the run of play demands.
For sheer passion, the game of the weekend could be at Wainui, where player-coach Mike (Smudge) Smith and his new-look Sharks take on United. This game should be a classic.
United have gone from strength to strength, with Stu Cranswick leading the attack with pace, enthusiasm and that toughness that enables him to “give as good as he gets” when the pressure is on.
Player-coach Dean Wrigley, Aaron Graham, Blake Mulrooney and Chris Adams organise the midfield shrewdly in front of a particularly strong defence.
The pace of talented young centrebacks Aaron Walters and Jonathan Purcell gives United a sound rearguard.
But Wainui have also put together a strong defence, with Diego Pedrioli, Pierrick Pitiot, Daniel Willock, Noel Amor and, when fit, Greg Judd all playing clever but no-nonsense football.
Wainui have been particularly strong in midfield, with Shane and Darren Hooks, Daniel Turner, Phil Watson and Jimmy Lawrence roaming the wide open spaces between penalty areas.
The break enforced by the wet weather will have given player-coach Smith time to get over the thigh injury that curtailed his time on the field in the last-gasp loss to Bohemians a month ago.
With Smith, Ben Inders, Warren Veall and big striker Andy Daub é at the heart of a tough-looking footballing side, Wainui are still improving.
Either team could win this one. I like them both.