Sacked high school coach still loves football

SCHOOL VIEW: There’s no escaping Mt Albert Grammar for Kevin Fallon. His balcony overlooks the school grounds.
SCHOOL VIEW: There’s no escaping Mt Albert Grammar for Kevin Fallon. His balcony overlooks the school grounds.

The last few weeks have been a kick in the guts for sacked football coach Kevin Fallon.

Fallon was told on July 24 that he was no longer needed at Mt Albert Grammar School after an 18-year tenure.

Despite the decision, the former All White coach looks back on his time at the school with nothing but fondness.

"Everyday at MAGS brought a bit of sunshine in my life, working with young players, the amount of winning was great but the amount of development was fantastic.

"You see these kids coming in at year 9 then watch them go out the other door with an American scholarship or as an All White.

"There have been very few down moments, I don't remember many at all."

The MAGS football programme flourished under Fallon. The school won countless trophies and produced a number of international and professional players.

The All White squad that travelled to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa featured four players who had come through Fallon's programmes.

He was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2008 and has lived and breathed football for 50 years.

"I've been so lucky to have my whole life in football, it's been fantastic.

"Training, tactics, ups and downs, getting players going, it's real-life theatre.

"It is an absolute privilege to work in football."

Since the dismissal Fallon has been inundated with messages of support from players, ex-players, parents and many people he has met during his long career.

One supporter has even offered to help pay any legal fees should Fallon decide to take the matter to court.

"When you get messages like these in your job, it sends a tingle down your spine.

"I'm a hard man and I work with hard players, but these messages knock you off your feet."

The MAGS First XI were told that they no longer had Fallon as their coach just before Saturday's game against Sacred Heart.

It was a home game but the team went down 7-0.

"It's quite traumatic for them to get caught up in this," Fallon says.

‘They have to concentrate on what they are doing and get on with school and other things."

Ex-MAGS players Cameron Hogg and Fox Slotemaker look up to Fallon and cherished their time with him as their coach.

"The professional environment, that's what you get from him. You are not going to get that anywhere else," Hogg says.

"If you're looking for a player that needs a sort of attitude to carry them on, Kev is the only place you can get it."

Both Hogg and Slotemaker are heading to the United States to take up university scholarships.

"Kevin is more than just a coach, he has been a friend to a lot of the boys and a mentor really, outside of football too, in life advice and everything," Slotemaker says.

MAGS principal Dale Burden says the school is grateful for Fallon's 18 years of service.

"There is no doubt that he also contributed to the general lift in the quality of secondary school football in Auckland.

"However, it is not right, fair or appropriate for me to discuss someone's employment situation in the media."

Fallon is optimistic about his future and is by no means ready to stop coaching.

"I'm gonna carry on and hope something comes up because I've got a lot of fire left in me."

Fallon is undecided on whether he will be on the sidelines this weekend when MAGS take on St Kentigern at home.

Auckland City Harbour News