The man who lead the charge to bring national league football back to Nelson has stepped aside after two “pretty demanding” seasons.
Mark Sheehan oversaw the creation of the Tasman United franchise and the region’s return to top tier football.
He says his time at the helm has been very hands on and taken up a lot of time, but he was able to achieve what he wanted.
“The idea was to get enough funds from year two so as to employ someone as an operations manager, which was done with Matt Campbell who is pretty well known in football circles.”
The club finished fifth in last year’s competition and last week announced the appointment of new coach Andy Hedge.
Mark says Tasman United are in a great position.
“[Andy] is a coach of exceptional calibre, and now we have an operations manager as well as a very experienced and skilled committee to assist him. It’s exciting.”
Mark says the side has been very well supported, which has been a highlight of his tenure.
“Nelsonians just love to get in behind their teams.”
“The number of fans who turned up every home game just to support the team, that took me by surprise a bit.”
His favourite memory was playing Auckland City at Trafalgar Park. As the game wore on, Auckland were bringing on All Whites from the bench, but it was Tasman substitute Nicolas Abot, an Argentine night porter from Paradiso backpackers, who made the difference, scoring a 93rd minute equaliser.
“It was an amazing thing to be involved with.”
\While he says he has taken plenty of personal satisfaction from the rebirth of national league football in Nelson, he says it is the community that should be proud.
“I think the whole of the footballing community needs to be proud of the team, our region is smaller than some Auckland clubs in terms of players, so everyone needed to be on board and they have been.”
At the start of 2016, Tasman United had no players, coaches or sponsors.
“To start from ground up was terrifying and exciting at the same time.”
He says the club now boasts the fifth best team in the country, with a sustainable future.
“If we can keep that progress going then why can’t we have a Tasman side playing in the World Club champs? We’ve always said, each season we are only 22 wins away from playing Real Madrid.”
Mark says he won’t disappear from the Tasman United scene entirely.
“I think my business partner and family will enjoy less of me talking constantly about Tasman United, but I’ll definitely remain involved, either cooking sausages or helping with the funding.”
Nelson Bays Football general manger Nic Foster says Mark is one of the main reasons National League Football returned to Nelson after such an extended break.
“He worked tirelessly to ensure Tasman United’s success on and off the field.”
Nic says Mark has been incredible in terms of making sure the franchise was well represented at the higher levels.
“It’s because of guys like him that Nelson Football is in the position it’s in today.”