Shift north pays off for national champ

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The last time the New Zealand Secondary School Lotto Premier Boys Football Championship final was held in Nelson, Fox Slotemaker was watching from the sidelines – this year he was not only playing it, but lifting the trophy with his Mount Albert Grammar School team-mates afterwards.

The 16 year old former Waimea College and Nelson Suburbs football player made the shift to Auckland at the beginning of 2012 to further his playing career.

The Mount Albert Grammar School first XI is coached by former All White coach Kevin Fallon, the father of All White Rory Fallon. Kevin was assistant coach when the All Whites qualified for the 1982 FIFA World Cup and also held the reigns when Nelson United competed in the national league. He even played for Nelson United when the side won the 1977 Chatham Cup. Fox’s father, John Slotemaker, played under Kevin during his time in Nelson and it was those connections that led him to Auckland. “My dad respects Kevin a lot and he thought it would be the best school to send me to,” says Fox, who is originally from Appleby.

Fox was a regular fixture at right back for MAGS during its national secondary school campaign and recalls watching in awe when he saw the side play here three years ago. “Last time it was in Nelson I was watching the final. It was Mt Albert versus someone else and I always wanted to play for Kevin and play for the school. Auckland has the best quality and it was proven at nationals with six of the top eight being from Auckland.”

And there was no one better than Mt Albert Grammar with the side claiming a 2-0 win over rivals Auckland Grammar School in the final at Saxton Field on Friday. Captain Jonathan Quinn scored a goal in each half to seal the victory. “We were always quite confident that we would finish at least in the top four and we had a good chance of winning it. It was amazing and definitely a career highlight. I had a few friends there and I knew a lot of the people on the sideline from Nelson.”

In Auckland, Fox trains at least once a day with Mt Albert Grammar. He highlights the sport’s importance as part of the school’s culture.

He has another year left at Mt Albert Grammar but his first assignments will be the semi finals of the regional knock out cup this weekend before continuing to push his claims for the New Zealand Under-17 side.