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Geoff Logan Memorial time again

FOOTBALL.

Gisborne football teams have the opportunity for a serious pre-season workout when they take part in the second annual Geoff Logan Memorial Tournament this weekend.

Two teams from Thistle and one each from United and Wainui will play pool games tomorrow, and semifinals and a final on Sunday.

All games will be at Childers Road Reserve, giving spectators a chance to see the new-season make-up of the teams.

The tournament honours the memory of Gisborne City stalwart Geoff Logan, a keen social footballer, hard-working committee member and avid supporter of the game.

Gisborne Thistle are hosting the tournament, and first-team coach Garrett Blair said it was being held over two days because last year’s one-day format was found to be too taxing.

The draw for tomorrow has three rounds of pool games, each with 20-minute halves separated by a 10-minute break.

On Sunday, the semifinals and final will each have 25-minute halves, again with a 10-minute halftime break.

Thistle have entered the Central Federation League this year, under the name Waikanae Top10 Gisborne Thistle.

Blair says Thistle recruits include attacking midfielder Jarom Brouwer, from United; midfielder Cullen Spawforth and goalkeeper Mitchell Stewart-Hill, who have returned from Auckland and the UK respectively; striker Jimmy Somerton, right midfielder Oska Smith, left midfielder Oli Davies and his brother, holding midfielder Alex, and goalkeeper Tom Talbot, all from Gisborne Boys’ High School.

Thistle’s first-team goalkeeper last year, Mark Baple, had surgery in January to repair an injured hand tendon.

The hand is expected to be in a cast until late March, when it will be splinted. It could be May by the time Baple gets back into contact work. In the meantime, he has been helping Blair with the coaching and will continue to do so as the season progresses.

Baple gave Stewart-Hill goalkeeping coaching when the latter played for Gisborne Boys’ High School a decade ago, and Blair says Stewart-Hill is glad to be able to return the favour by making himself available, even though he had planned to do some New Zealand sightseeing with his partner.

Thistle’s tricky deep-lying striker, Tomek Frooms, from England, has been granted a seasonal work visa, which means he is able to stay on in Gisborne this year, Blair says.

And winger Brandon Josling is waiting for confirmation that he can stay on, too.

Thistle were invited to apply for a place in the Federation League after Pacific Premiership winners Port Hill turned down the opportunity to be promoted. Thistle finished equal with Port Hill on points and goal difference, but the Napier side had scored more goals.

The Federation League starts on April 3. Thistle have a bye first up, caused by the withdrawal from the competition of Palmerston North team Red Sox.

Thistle’s first league game will be at home to Whanganui Athletic on April 10.

“It will be a tough test,” Blair said.

“They finished second in the Federation League last year and have retained the majority of their players.”

Thistle’s pre-season will continue in earnest after this weekend.

“We’ve got warm-up games against the Napier Marist Federation League side on March 13 and Papamoa on March 20,” Blair said.

Thistle had also decided to fly to most of their away matches, which he expected would bring benefits in player availability and match preparation.

This weekend, the two Thistle sides would play as a first team and a reserve team.

While the tournament will be a guide to team make-up and strength, the picture might be incomplete. Club cricket is still going, and Gisborne football has plenty of capable cricketers in its ranks.

The Geoff Logan Memorial draw is —

SATURDAY, Round 1, 10am: Childers Road Reserve 1, Heavy Equipment Services United v Waikanae Top10 Thistle; CRR 2, Sunshine Brewing Wainui v Gisborne Vehicle Testing Thistle.

Round 2, 11.30am: CRR 1, Waik Top10 Thistle v GVT Thistle; CRR 2, HES United v SB Wainui.

Round 3, 1pm: CRR 1, SB Wainui v Waik Top10 Thistle; CRR 2, HES United v GVT Thistle.

SUNDAY, semifinals, 10am: CRR 1, 1st v 4th; CRR 2, 2nd v 3rd.

Final, 11.30am: CRR 1.