Steve Bignall has opted not to return as head coach at Nelson Suburbs this season. Photo: Shuttersport/File.

‘Bigsy’ signs off from Suburbs


The most successful coach in Nelson Suburb’s history is handing over the reins.

Steve ‘Bigsy’ Bignall has been synonymous with Suburbs football in recent years but has opted not to return to the helm in 2020.

He says, with some quality young coaches in the ranks, the time was right to “get out of the way”.

Steve will go down as the best coach in the club’s 50-plus year existence having guided the side to back-to-back MPL titles in 2004-05.

He then went on to coach Ferrymead Bays, Richmond and Nelson FC before returning to his ‘first love’ in 2016.

Steve’s return saw Suburbs go on an historic Chatham Cup run in 2018 and claim an inaugural Southern League title in 2019.

He says he had the privilege of coaching some fantastic players, including All Whites Jeremy Brockie and Campbell Banks as well as recent stars such as Jordon Yong, Ben Wright and Corey Wilson.

Steve believes the club is in good hands with his son-in-law, Ryan Stewart, acting as the club’s director.

“There is a great energy at the club and a lot of good footballing people on board.”

Steve won’t cut ties with the club completely, saying he may lend a hand with the James McClay coached reserves.

“I’ll just try to make myself useful.”

Before then, however, Steve will take some time off to visit family in England and watch a bit of football.

He thanked the club for the opportunities given to him.

Stepping into the big shoes of Steve is 2010 assistant Neil Connell and former Suburbs player Mark Johnson.

Steve wanted a natural progression of leadership within the club.

Neil says he tested himself last year, but now is a bigger test as he steps up to head coach.

“I am definitely looking forward to it.”

Neil says the bulk of the 2019 squad will return, minus goal scoring machine Cam Gordon who was offered a sports marketing job in London.”

“We are looking in good shape and have a solid foundation to build on.”

While the club hasn’t set any specific targets, Neil says by winning the SFL last year and coming second in the MPL, the have “made a rod for our own back”.

Born and bred Nelsonian Mark says he only had to run it by his wife when deciding to accept the offer.

“I didn’t take long to think about it.”

Mark has coached a number of representative and youth teams, before taking up a role at Tahuna FC.

His philosophy is based around having fun and enjoying the game, as with enjoyment comes success.

“The club is really healthy and it’s exciting.”

Suburbs is yet to finalise its squad and Neil says any locals wanting to lace up their boots are welcome.

“We train Tuesdays and Thursdays, so anyone who wants to give MPL a try this year is more than welcome to come along.”