OLYMPIC TFTs - MASTERS 2
Incredibly, the TFTs (initially known as "the Doctors") are now into their 31st season with Olympic....
30 Seasons in
Royal Blue and White
The story of The Doctors (1993-2003) and the Tax-Funded Titans ‘TFTs’ (2004 – Present)
The Early Years of the TFTs
At the start of 2004 a new squad was recruited to augment the 8 remaining ‘Doctors’.
With the changing team make-up the decision was taken to rebrand, and after some debate, the Tax-Funded Titans (TFTs for short – and reflecting the new make-up of the side with lots of students and a few public servants was chosen as our new name.
It also meant a reshuffle of grades, with the team opting to start again at the bottom, now known as Div 11.
A foundation for our future successes in the TFTs was the decision to ensure roles and responsibilities would rotate amongst the team from season to season. This has meant that everyone gets the chance to play a leadership or support role, and that no-one has to shoulder the burden of bringing the whole team together every year.
Our first season as a team was notable for the camaraderie and team culture that is still in evidence today. Our first few seasons were less notable performance wise with initial promotion followed by relegations in 2006 and 2008.
Recruitment of new players throughout the 2004-2010 period often featured statements referring to the team being “a good bunch of guys, but not that good at football” but by 2009 that final statement had started changing.
2009 marked the first of a run of 6 successive promotions for the TFTs, with the team winning Div 12, followed by a second league win in 2010 (Div 11).
The first ‘Golden Period’ for the TFTs was well and truly with us!
“Mate! How’re things? Just spoke with a couple of the lads and we’re thinking about putting together a social football team – you up for it”?
A pretty simple question, but one that’s ledto an unlikely assortment of non-Greeks into a 30-season association with the best club in Aotearoa New Zealand!
The Doctors (as we were known between 1993 and 2003) was a team formed out of a bunch of medical doctors, their mates and siblings and the odd ‘mate of a mate’ who first played for Olympic in the ‘Open H’ grade in 1993.
We played our first match into a strong northerly at Wilton Park, and found ourselves 0-3 down at half-time. A couple of positional changes followed on from a strong team debate at the break, and we came from behind to secure a 3-3 draw. This also started a tradition that would continue for a decade where the team would get after-match beers if we won the second half of matches. This initiative didn’t really change the number of games we won, but it at least stopped score-line blow-outs from happening too often!
The hallmark of this first line-up was the humour and banter on and off the park. Having some larger than life characters, and some pretty serious intellects in the team created plenty of opportunity for players and spectators to enjoy a laugh or two during a game (quite often at our own expense).
As with most new teams it took us a while to find our feet, but some clever recruiting and some hard work saw the team promoted on 4 occasions over 11 seasons, winning our grade twice, losing an end of season cup-final once, and never being relegated.
By 2003 however many of our original team had moved out of Wellington, sustained long-term injuries or retired. This included the last of our medical doctors and instigated a repeat of the type of recruiting conversations that began the whole exercise more than a decade earlier.
There were are handful who played for the team right through the period, with Rew Clausen, Andrew Christian, Chris Leach, Michael Leach and Tony Wheeler appearing in every season.
The TFTs –
‘Masters of our own destiny’
The 2016 season brought more of the same with the team barely scraping a playing XI together on a number of occasions, before sealing 6th place with a win in our second to last game.
The writing was on the wall however, and our time competing against teenagers and fit 20-somethings was at an end – age and time had truly caught up with the majority of us!
Following a tougher than desired end to the 2016 season the team decided it was time to move into the Masters leagues. We were inspired by the success Olympic had recently had in Masters 1 and thought we’d like to add to that. Bouyed by some great recruitment from Brooklyn Northern, Marist and Island Bay we were allocated a spot in Masters 3 for the 2017 season, and quickly established ourselves as one of the teams to beat. We got better through the season as we established new combinations, and sealed the title with a game to spare out at Happy Valley (just about the only good memory of playing at that ground in 24 seasons)!
Moving to Masters 2 we had top half finishes in 2018 and 2019 before winning the Covid shortened 2020 season.
We backed that up with a 4th place finish in 2021 and managed to secure a respectable 6th place finish this season.
We lost another from the Doctors era with Gareth ‘Gee’ Roberts moving to Auckland at the end of the 2021 season after a massive 19 seasons with the team after the retirements or relocation of Grant Morris, Nigel Lock and Kevin Burley.
Our 30th season saw the return of founder Chris Leach for a pre-season game, and foundation Doctor and TFTs member Matt Saunders make a return after suffering a serious knee injury way back in 2005, joining Michael Leach as three players from the 1993 squad to make an appearance in our 30th season.
Although the season didn’t end as we’d hoped there were a few milestones to celebrate. 2022 saw Bevan Smith go past 80 goals (in just 6 seasons), Andre ‘Dre’ Baldock and Colin Gerrard each go past the 250 game milestone for the TFTs and Michael Leach hit the 300 goal mark for the club.
This year we celebrate the 20th season for the TFTs as we push to return to a top four finish and keep the Olympic reputation flying high!
Time waits for no-one, not even the TFTs
Heading into 2010s winning Division Titles became the norm, with victories in 2010 (Div11), 2011 (Div 10), 2012 (Div 9), 2013 (Div 8), 2014 (Div 7) pushing the team into Capital 6 for the 2015 season.
During this period a number of our remaining Doctors team and foundation TFTs either took breaks, travelled overseas or retired. Chris Leach’s decision to retire at the end of the 2011 season left Gareth Roberts and Stu Coats as the only remaining players active from the Doctors era, and these two were joined by Michael Leach on his return from living in the UK for the 2013 season.
Selwyn Bates also made the decision to finish as a player and take up refereeing, something that deserves special mention. We all appreciate that kind of commitment to our beautiful game!
A 6-year winning streak was always going to take a massive effort to keep going, and a growing list of significant injuries and ageing bodies meant we were unable to keep the promotion march going in 2015, finishing a hard-fought 5th on Div 6 (the highest of the ‘rolling-subs’ grades).
30 YEARS - ROLL CALL
10-14 Seasons 15+ Seasons
TFTs MASTERS - MAKING HISTORY...
1992 – The Doctors founded by Andrew and Ben Christian and Chris Leach
1993 – Team moved from Vic Uni to Olympic.
1996 – Winners Open H
1998 – Runners-up Open G
2000 – Winners Open F
2001 – Runners-up Open E
2003 – The Doctors play their final match. 8 players continue to form the TFTs
2004 – The TFTs founded by Chris Leach, Michael Leach and Gareth Roberts
2008 – Relegation to Div 12
2009 – Winners Division 12
2010 – Winners Division 11
2011 – Winners Division 10
2012 – Winners Division 9
2013 – Winners Division 8
2014 – Winners Division 7
2015 – Top-half finish, Division 6
2017 – move to Masters. Winners Masters 3
2020 – Winners Masters 2 (not promoted)
2022 – 250 Games milestones for Andrew Baldock and Colin Gerard. 300 league goals for Olympic for Michael Leach
Carlos Gonzales continues to hold the record of oldest playing member at 60 years of age
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