English goalkeeper Jack McGovern has made a spectacular start to his football career in New Zealand, scoring a dramatic equaliser in Melville United’s 1-1 derby draw with Hamilton Wanderers.
McGovern (27) was making his debut for Melville and was sent into the game as an outfield substitute by coach Jarrod Young, with his side trailing 1-0 in the 56th minute at Porritt Stadium.
Seventeen minutes later, McGovern got free of his marker to score for his new club, earning them a point, despite being reduced to 10 men with the late sending off of Erik Panzer.
Main photo: Jack McGovern … scores within 17 minutes of making his first appearance on a New Zealand pitch.
McGovern has joined Melville after moving to the Waikato with his partner, who works in the thoroughbred industry.
His previous club was AFC Liverpool, who play in the North West Counties Football League, which is step 9 of the English football pyramid.
In the recently-finished UK season, McGovern equalled the club’s record for clean sheets in a season and broke the record number of appearances for a goalkeeper with more than 80 games.
A former Plymouth Argyle academy player, McGovern has also played for Bootle in the Northern Premier League Division 1 West (tier 8 in the pyramid).
However, McGovern has also played as a striker and provides Melville with an outfield option, as well as using him as a back-up for regular ‘keeper Max Tommy.
Tommy also played a crucial part in Melville’s derby draw, saving a late penalty.
After the game, McGovern told Melville’s website: “Right place, right time. All the good players score on debut.”
He said he was happy to play outfield, especially after arriving from the UK in mid-season.
“I didn’t want to come somewhere mid-season and be sat on the bench for the rest of the season as a reserve goalkeeper,” he said.
“Max (Tommy) is one of the best keepers I’ve seen for a long while.”
Melville coach Young told the club website: “Jack has fitted in like he has been here the whole season. He’s a strong striker looking to cause defenders a lot of trouble.”
McGovern’s next game might need to wait for him to recover from ligament damage to his left knee, suffered in a collision with Wanderers’ keeper Matt Oliver in the last minute of the game.
It forced McGovern to be substituted, ending a memorable entrance to football in New Zealand.
Watch McGovern’s goal
Game played on Saturday June 24, 2023
Hamilton Wanderers 1 (Derek Tieku 35′)
Melville United 1 (Jack McGovern 73′)