New Plymouth Rangers has enticed ex National League player Matt Hastings out of retirement for the 2020 season. Hastings, who moved into the region for work in July, has committed to dusting off the boots and taking the field for the Federation League squad next season.
Hastings is a centre back by trade who has played for Waikato FC and Hawkes Bay United among other top clubs here in New Zealand and overseas so brings a wealth of experience to a fairly youthful squad. Whilst he is 33 years old he cant wait to get fit and back on the field. “when I arrived here in July I was welcomed by the club but I wasn’t conditioned to go straight into the top team so I only played a few games of local league” “I also needed to take the time to settle my family into a new city”.
Hastings moved from Gisborne to take on the role of General Manager at MediaWorks Taranaki and has no regrets about the change of lifestyle so far although the climate is taking some adjusting to “Well, start of September there was a great swell for surfing and it was 24 degrees over in Gisborne.” “I love winter time tho, it means its football season and the kids also love the sight of the mountain so we have the best of both worlds here.”
In Gisborne Hastings was coaching Gisborne Thistle and had a couple of encounters with Rangers. “I remember vividly playing New Plymouth Rangers twice in the 2017 season and coming off second best on both occasions”. “When we travelled to Merrilands Domain we were given a bit of a 5-1 thumping and had to make the 9 hour trip home licking our wounds”. The game back in Gisborne was a lot closer with Rangers sneaking home with a narrow 3-2 win which uniquely was a game played for double points due to a weather disrupted season. “I enjoyed our matches with Rangers then as both teams were playing a good open fast style of football and that is what I am looking forward to playing now”
Club Captain John Sigurdsson has been busy so far in the off season and says this is a big step forward for the club. Sigurdsson says “Matt committing next season is a big boost for the club. To have someone of that calibre leading from the back will put our young guys at ease”. In 2019 the average age of the first team was 20 which provided a lot of energy but the team were missing some key leaders. “We need more players like Matt who have played at that higher level and can teach the younger players the ropes”
Pre season training is starting this Sunday at 11am at Merrilands Domain and anyone with the ambition to play the Federation League is welcome to join.