The story behind Melville goalkeeper Max Tommy’s match of a lifetime

posted in: Chatham Cup, News

Goalkeeper Max Tommy has revealed he couldn’t train for two weeks ahead of his headline-grabbing performance in the Chatham Cup final and was doubting his fitness minutes before kick-off.

“I pulled my calf against Birkenhead and then again against Auckland United two weeks before the cup final,” the Melville United ‘keeper told Soccer United in an interview.

“I did all I could possible to be ready and didn’t train for two weeks before the final.”

Tommy (32) won the Jack Batty Cup for being the Player of the Match, despite his Melville United side losing the final on penalties to Christchurch United.

READ MORE: Christchurch United win drama-laden Chatham Cup final in penalty shootout >>>>

READ MORE: Goalscoring ‘keeper Max Tommy earns Jack Batty Cup for final heroics >>>>

He’ll be forever remembered in Chatham Cup folklore as the ‘keeper who scored a dramatic equaliser eight minutes into stoppage time, forcing the final into extra time.

Main photo: Max Tommy … now part of Chatham Cup folklore. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Max Tommy receives the Jack Batty Cup from John Batty. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Soccer United interviewed Tommy, following his epic performance. Here it is:

This story has been republished with permission from Hamilton football store Soccer United.

SOCCER UTD: Congratulations on your outstanding performance in the recent game, Max.

Can you walk us through one or two key saves or moments that you think were crucial to your success in that match?

TOMMY: I think there were a few regulation saves early in the game.

If those would have gone in I’m sure the game would have been killed off a lot earlier.

There was definitely one save around the end of the second-half of extra time where they’ve crossed the ball. I can’t remember which Christchurch player it was, but he’s hit it so well and placed it to my right.

I didn’t see him strike the ball, I was completely unsighted and just managed to react in time when it fizzed out from behind Eric Panzer low towards my bottom right corner. I was at full stretch and got a full hand on the ball. Within a split second of making the save I sprang back up onto my feet ready for any further shot on goal. I just couldn’t believe I got down to it.

It was definitely crowded in there. Eric Panzer and Aaron Scott put in some incredible blocks – and that’s what you need as a goalie. They were exceptional in knowing where to be and helping me out.

It was an incredible game. What an advertisement for football in New Zealand – regardless of the result.

You look at our team and how many young players we had in the second half everyone pulled together to get back into the game. This was helped by Jarrod changing the formation.

Christchurch United are an up-and-coming club and they’ve had some very good foundations put in place. Last season when we played them in the National League, you could tell they were finding their feet.

I think this year in the national league you’ll probably see them being more successful than last year. Then going forward, I think they’ll become a powerhouse.

Melville United’s Max Tommy makes a save during the penalty shootout. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

SOCCER UTD: I’ve heard about some other players from your team who weren’t able to stagger around for a couple of days after the game! Did you hold up OK?

TOMMY: I can imagine most of the lads would have been crippled for a few days. I was fine. I pulled my calf against Birkenhead and then again against Auckland United two weeks before the Cup final.

I did all I could possible to be ready and didn’t train for two weeks before the final.

Before the game in the changing room, Jarrod’s sat down next to me and asked, “how are you feeling?”, and I said, “to be honest, I’m actually quite nervous about this”.

I wasn’t nervous about the game, not about the result, but about how I was going to hold up.

The 50-metre run after the celebration may not been the smartest thing, but I was just running on pure adrenaline. Special mention to our physio, Jimmy.

And yes, in the back of my head, I did think “come on, Max, you’ve got to slow it down here — you can’t keep sprinting to the bench” and luckily Keagan Thompson started running towards me and shortened the distance.

I put the brakes on, and then the only real option was a knee slide. That was just the most surreal moment in my career.

SOCCER UTD: Tell us more about that goal!

TOMMY: I was just channelling my inner 8 to 12-year-old striker in that moment.

I think it’s kind of funny to say but I tried to go up the pitch probably 5-6 minutes earlier. Jarrod told me to stay back, which made complete sense because there was still time. But this time, it was all or nothing and credit to Jack McGovern for chasing that ball down and giving us the opportunity.

And then you look at Jerson Lagos, the amount of effort he put in through that game and the composure to whip in a perfectly weighted cross into the perfect area that was probably potentially overlooked.

And Campbell Brown got a flick on with his head and, thankfully, it took it away from me because I wouldn’t have trusted myself to get my head on it and bury it.

Max Tommy gets foot to ball and scores.

I think it was me, Aaron Scott, Campbell Brown, maybe one or two others — our presence in the box probably made it hard for the defenders to sight the ball — I was trying to position myself to block the keeper’s view. Then I noticed a pocket of space on the back post I could slot into unmarked.

I just made sure I attacked the middle of the goal because that’s really the highest chance I had of getting on anything, and the rebound just fell to me.

It was a blur of colours and I saw this orange and white flash appear just to my right, and I stuck my foot out and then suddenly the net just bulged in front of me and I got up and it was just complete confusion.

It was nearly like coming back from blacking out after a concussion, not quite knowing what was going on.

It was so surreal and I think only realized that I’d actually scored while I was another 30 metres down the pitch — once I was sliding on my knees.

To get a goal like that on the 100th anniversary of the Chatham Cup and to do it in front of everyone that’s been on that journey was amazing.

SOCCER UTD: What are your future goals and aspirations, both as a goalkeeper and a coach?

TOMMY: Those are questions I have kind of always wanted to be asked by someone.

First and foremost as a player you want to play for as long as you can, I’m 32 now and I feel like I’m 22. I have many years left in front of me.

It has always been an aspiration to experience being a professional footballer. Who knows, it might still happen

After coaching the 2018 U-17 New Zealand Women’s World Cup goalkeepers I had a break from goalkeeper coaching. I started coaching again at the end of last year and now have a good group I will enjoy developing into the next generation of goalkeepers.

Max Tommy’s coaching courses

For more information on Max Tommy’s coaching courses – search MTGoal GoalKeeper Coaching on Facebook, or email Max at

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