Tue, Nov 16, 2021 6:07 AM

Richmond celebrates unprecedented success

The Richmond 1st division men’s side won its first title in ten years with an upset win over Rangers. Photo: Shuttersport

Jonty Dine

Out of the seven Nelson football competitions, Richmond AFC entered six in 2021, winning four.

The club’s stellar season of success can be attributed to the strong sense of culture it has developed over recent years.

After a ten-year wait, the Richmond division one men’s side finally broke its championship hoodoo, winning its final against a highly favoured Rangers outfit.

This year also saw the Hothouse Creative Richmond Foxes continue to set the benchmark for women's football in Nelson with their third first division league title in a row.

Rounding off the success, the Helen Ruston Richmond Hornbills claimed men’s third division while the Tasman Auto Electrics Richmond Bogans took out men's fifth division.

Club president Chris Sibbald says the results reflect the efforts of the entire club whanau.

“It is all about attitude and the environment we have built here.”

Four from five for Foxes

The Foxes hat-trick of titles sees them sit comfortably at the top of local women’s football.

Marketing and communications coordinator Holly De Cesare says the Foxes have benefited from consistency and a loyal group of women.

“We have been very fortunate to keep our core of senior players throughout those six years, and the team has really developed and excelled from that core.”

With the astute John Slotemaker at the helm, the Foxes have great leadership to draw from.

“He is a quiet, enthusiastic football supporter,” Holly jokes, but a fantastic coach with a wealth of experience.”

Holly says the run of dominance the Foxes are on comes down to hard work, training, good management, great coaching and a fantastic club culture.

This year also saw the Foxes entered into the Kate Shepperd Cup for the very first time.

Though well beaten by Christchurch’s Coastal Spirit, playing a greater level of competition served a higher purpose.

“It was to test to see how we would go at a higher level and how much support we would get from the community, and it was a success in that sense.”

The season culminated with striker Jenny Harvey winning the club’s golden boot after netting 13 goals for the season.

Jenny has been a goal scoring machine in recent years, bagging a staggering 22 in 2020.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the local powerhouses, dropping their first two games after an unbeaten run which stretched back three years.

The losses did serve as somewhat a blessing in disguise though, with Suburbs illustrating the gap between first and second is closing.

“It was a bit of a weight off our shoulders,” says Holly.

It would seem other clubs are beginning to match the quality of Richmond, evident in the goal differential from this year (21), compared with 76 and 53 the two seasons prior.

The Richmond women won its fourth title in five years in 2021. Photo: Shuttersport
The Richmond women won its fourth title in five years in 2021. Photo: Shuttersport

A monkey off the back

The men’s first division side also enjoyed an historic season, ending its decade-long title drought with a stunning victory in Marlborough.

“That wonder-win over Rangers, it was one of the best football atmospheres I’ve been part of.”

Similar to the women, the men have managed to retain a large number of its young talent.

Chris says the atmosphere they have built at the club creates a desire to stay around.

“We are only losing two to university and rest of them still here for another couple of years.”

Chris says coaches Clay Wilhelmus and Joe McIntyre have moulded the young team which has been building for years.

“They feel this is a home.”

Holly says there has been a big emphasises on sticking to a long-term plan.

“Winning wasn’t the end goal, winning was the reward when you have done everything else right.”

She says they want to instil these values in every player that dons the red jersey.

“From first kicks through to our elite players, we want to be teaching them those back to basic pillars of why we play sport.”

Securing the future

Holly and Chris say there is huge excitement surrounding the future for Richmond Football Club.

The club recently met with council to discuss the prospect of a multi sports facility at Jubilee Park.

“The concept is of a brand-new community sports hub where rooms could be hired out in the off season, and we get more sports involved.”

“We already share with Waimea Toi Toi United, but we could do so much more.”

This ‘blue sky thinking’ is looking to capture the attention of the residents in the 6000 new homes at Berryfields.

“There are no sports facilities out there so our catchment area will quadruple, and we want to cater for that with a multi-sport, multi-use facility for that growing community.”

The changing rooms are in serious need of an upgrade with women forced to share one facility between them.

“We want it to be more inclusive for females, we have seven senior teams and two changing rooms.”

Holly explains majority of female players currently get changed and showered at home.

“These are big projects, within the next sort of five years, we are looking to build on success we have had as a club in last 2-3 years.”

Another key objective for Richmond Football Club is to increase its junior player pool.

“All numbers are down so we have to start thinking outside the square to get the kids back playing football.”

Holly and Chris say something seems to have finally clicked within the club this season.

“People have realised the gem we are sitting on.”

The team behind the scenes

Of course, a club is only as strong as its support system and Richmond draws on plenty of sponsors, and volunteers to survive.

“Everyone has been challenged with covid, but we have to thank all our sponsors as we haven’t lost a single one, they have all stayed committed to supporting the club,” says Chris.

Holly says many of its volunteering efforts comes from the players themselves.

“Volunteers are hard to come by, so it’s great to see some of the younger players putting their hands up to get involved.”

Join the club

To help secure this future for Richmond football, the club is calling for sponsors for the revitalisation of its hub.

Richmond is also looking to hire a Football Development Offiicer, an administrator and a social media manager.

“We are looking for people. If people are interested, if they want to play, help, meet people, make new friends, build our legacy, this is the club to do it at.”

Holly stresses that you don’t need to be young, or even good at football.

“We are a family.”

For more info go to http://www.richmondathletic.co.nz/or email president@richmondathletic.co.nz

Richmond Athletic Football Club prides itself on culture. Photo: Shuttersport
Richmond Athletic Football Club prides itself on culture. Photo: Shuttersport