Star striker Ben Harris will return to Richmond Athletic this season and Tasman United should do everything they can to get his signature for next summer.
It has been confirmed that the 26-year-old, who scored for Team Wellington against Tasman United in their 5-1 win on Sunday, will return to play for Richmond Athletic in the Nelson division one competition which begins next month.
Ben confirmed the move, saying he would return to Richmond by the end of the month and then fly between Nelson and Wellington to complete his commitments with Team Wellington
“I’m hopeful of playing a couple of months for Richmond but at some point I’ll head home to England, so I doubt I’ll be there all season.”
Ben, who is off contract with Team Wellington at the end of the campaign, says he would be open to playing for Tasman “if the right offer came along”.
“I know some of the guys down there and I’m one of those people who never says never to any opportunity, so I’d certainly consider it.”
Tasman’s debut national league season has had plenty of highs and lows but their late season form, which has included back-to-back wins under interim coach Davor Tavich, has probably earned the team a pass mark based on improvement and first year goodwill.
That outcome looked unlikely under initial coach Richard Anderson, who said all the right things but couldn’t seem to win over the players.
One of the big questions is whether Tasman should try to secure strikers Paul Ifill and Ermal Hajdari for next season.
Paul was the star signing, but hasn’t really stamped his authority on the competition as many expected.
Ermal was the one coach Anderson thought would be the crowd-pleaser and main scorer.
While he has sublime touches and time on the ball, he has not found the back of the net with the regularity that the franchise would have wanted.
Also, being young, he may look to go elsewhere after a season in New Zealand.
It’s hard to predict what impact the loss of veteran defender Mark Johnston for the whole debut season had on the team and whether the defence would have been the leakiest in the competition if he’d been in the heart of it.
Perhaps, with the return of Mark and a bench role for Paul, and the signing of Ben, fortunes can change for Tasman come season two.
At 37-years-old, Paul has all the touches and heady play to be a threat.
He could prove to be an invaluable late substitute against tired defenders if he’s willing to ‘ride the pine’ for such a role.
It would also allow him to stay hands-on with his Stoke-based football academy and help mentor younger players within the Tasman setup.
Despite rough patches on the field, Tasman have proved they can be competitive and, with the largest number of fans in the league, there’s clearly a desire for the team to thrive in the coming seasons.
Tasman will play its final game of the Stirling Sports Premiership season this Saturday at Trafalgar Park against Southern Utd. Kick off at 1pm.