Paston keen to pay visit
All Whites goalkeeper Mark Paston says the Canterbury public has always "turned out in droves" to back the Wellington Phoenix and now it's the A-League club's turn to support Canterbury.
The Phoenix return to Christchurch on Sunday for the first time since the earthquakes to play the A-League's newest franchise, the Western Sydney Wanderers, in a pre-season clash at Addington's AMI Stadium.
Paston, who is vying with All Whites colleague Glen Moss to be the Phoenix's starting goalkeeper, said the club have always enjoyed playing in Christchurch.
"We got two big crowds when we played there twice in 2010 against Adelaide United twice," he said. "We had 19,000 and 14,000, it was a pretty cool experience."
"Christchurch turned out and supported us in droves the first couple of times we were down. The boys really appreciated that and we wanted to come down again and show our support [for Christchurch]."
Paston has heard the new Christchurch stadium is "quite intimate and is a nice venue".
The All Whites' 2010 World Cup finals hero missed the Phoenix's pre-season tour of India because his wife was due to have a baby.
The decision "proved to be correct" because Charlie, the Pastons' third son, arrived in the middle of the tour.
Paston has his hands full off the field with "three boys aged three and under".
But his passion for the Phoenix remains undimmed and he used the time his team-mates were in India regain full fitness after "having some screws in my knee removed".
He got a boost when Ricki Herbert, his club and national coach, named him ahead of Glen Moss for the All Whites' World Cup qualifying matches against New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands earlier this month.
That may be a pointer to Herbert's thinking for the start of the A-League season next month when the Phoenix host Sydney FC and their marquee signing, former Italian World Cup winner Alessandro di Pierro.
Paston said he and Moss were friends but both wanted to be the No 1 keeper. Paston was taking nothing for granted.
"You want to earn your place on merit."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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