It’s never easy saying goodbye, but last year’s Wellington Phoenix squad seem to be getting pretty good at it. When Mark Rudan took over the Nix he barely had half a squad to work with and now he’s left the Nix and his successor, our beloved Uffie Talay… barely has half a squad to work with. A trio of new signings (so far) plus a couple standouts in the youth team offer a spot of depth but right now they can’t even put a starting eleven together of contracted first team players.
Of the 20 players still under contract at the end of last season, only seven have re-signed for next time. Thirteen of them are leaving for one reason or another, some because they got better offers and some because the club chose to move on. That’s some intense upheaval. It’s also what happens when you go around offering players single-year contracts but we’re not here to litigate the situation.
Nah, we’re here because it’s a strange and unique experience to support the Wellington Phoenix. There’s a brilliant atmosphere of support around the club but there’s also a battle-hardened pessimism too. News that Stefan Marinovic had signed for the next two seasons was massive but sandwiched in between Roy Krishna and Andrew Durante both leaving, the best player and the captain, sure conflicts things for us. Doesn’t really help that three of the departing players have followed Mark Rudan to Western United either.
But nobody seems to have left the Nix with any bad blood. There was a great sense of purpose in the squad last season and even the one-and-dones amongst them left feeling it had been something special (despite only finishing sixth and were comfortably beaten in the first round of the playoffs) and the chaps that have left all seem to have done so with best wishes at heart and all that.
This is just a long winded way of saying that TNC got tagged in a thang on twitter the other day requesting/suggesting this article and we’re nothing if not For The People so… feast. Also chip in on our Patreon if you’re that way inclined. Sweet as.
13. Nathan Burns
What exactly does a great goodbye entail? You know, all the soppy things. Honesty, compassion, closure, best wishes, happy memories, perhaps a tinge of regret. Each player’s situation is different so keep that in mind over the course of these power rankings – Andy Durante and Cillian Sheridan couldn’t have given each other’s farewells because an 11-year veteran and captain of the club has a rather different relationship to the fans than a single year import. I guess that’s ultimately what we’re about here, a farewell that captures a player’s relationship with the club and it’s fans.
None of which we’ve seen from Nathan Burns, by the way. He hasn’t hit up the ‘gram up for ten weeks and last posted about the Phoenix on October 23. Given how he was benched throughout the second half of the season, s’pose that’s not completely unexpected. We forgot he was still a Phoenix player just like he forgot to say goodbye.
12. Filip Kurto
"I want to thank the club and most importantly, the Wellington Phoenix fans. I will never forget my time here, it’s a great city and I’ve enjoyed every moment playing this season."
See above. Nothing from Kurts on the ol’ socials – his twitter has been abandoned since he was at Roda JC and he doesn’t seem to have an insta, only a fanpage that hasn’t been updated since he joined the Nix. However he does get some slim credit for a media-team-filtered statement. The Nix managed to squeeze that one through without mention of his next destination: Western United, even though it had been common knowledge for about two months at that point. Obviously Filip can’t say much until things are official and his loss isn’t so hard felt now that Stefan Marinovic has replaced him (although he departed three weeks before that) but considering where he went to and considering that he probably didn’t write a single word of this statement, that’s a two out of ten from us, chief. And that’s being generous.
11. Justin Gulley
Only signed for the team mid-season and, thanks to injuries, only played once before his short-term contract expired and the club chose not to offer a new one. One of six players released on the same day, all presumably culls of the new gaffer. Doesn’t really appear to have a social media presence (clever bloke) so can’t hold it against him that he hasn’t said anything publically.
10. Max Burgess
“I've had the opportunity of playing with a great group of footballers and it's been an absolute privilege wearing the Wellington Phoenix shirt and living in this fantastic city. I'm very grateful to the club and the fans for their incredible support throughout the year, so thank you to everyone.”
Another one without a social media presence but he did also sign with Western United so a tough one there. Burgie had a breakout few months at the end of the year after really being offered an opportunity by the Nix… though they also only gave him a one year deal so he was free to walk. Oh well. Again, like Kurto it’s hard to know how much if any of this statement from the Welly Nix’s official announcement that he actually wrote (am I being too cynical?) but the shout out to Wellington as a city is a nice touch.
9. Mandi Sosa
See, this is almost worse than some of the non-farewells because this one doesn’t even say that he’s leaving. It just says thanks. This was at a time before Burnsy and that lot had all been released too so we were really in the dark over where things were going and who might stay. Given Mandi’s daughter was born in Aotearoa there was hope that maybe he’d hang around and honestly this post suggested that he was outta there but it sure didn’t confirm it. Even now we don’t have concrete confirmation, only the suggestion from a Piney scoop that he’d gone back to Spain and was ‘unlikely to return’. Appreciate the appreciation, champion, but you can do better.
8. Michal Kopczynski
Little bit of an odd one to tell the story completely in emojis and hashtags. This post was the day after he was released by the Nix, same day as Cillian Sheridan’s farewell. Kopa was only on loan and to be fair to him he’d been more forthcoming with the soppy deets following the playoff defeat against Melbourne Victory. For a midfielder who played most of the season in the defence, who still has a year on his contract back with Legia Warsaw, who will have had a few language barriers as well… Michal didn’t really have a lot he needed to say. Sweet use of filters though. And, honestly, doesn’t a yellow and black couple of hearts say more than real words ever could? I mean… no. But it’s not the worst of them either. Kopa sneakily turned out in support of the NZ U20s side at the recent World Cup in Poland too so that’s worth a bit.
7. Ryan Lowry
Quick on the trigger after the Nix released him and five others on May 20, Ryan Lowry cuts to the chase a little with the highs and lows comment. He’s not wrong either, this is a dude who was a fringe player when we sucked and was still a fringe player when we were better. (Started that playoff game though). You always need those types in a squad and true to form there’s no whinging in his farewell, only good wishes and gratitude. Considering he infamously revealed that he’d re-signed with the club on Instagram way before the club were ready to announce it a year ago, he’s done good here. However he has to lose a few points because that picture’s slightly pixelated and there are a couple grammar issues with the text. Dem’s da rulez, Ryan.
6. Cillian Sheridan
The Sheriff never quite kicked on at the Nix for whatever reason, struggling to hit the back of the net in limited minutes off the bench. Which is a shame because his first few appearances suggested a real cult hero in the making. But even still, his blend of humour, his lovely Irish accent, that cheeky top knot, and especially his online presence made him a popular fella. Great twitter comedian, got a few insightful podcast episodes out of him, and here he joined the buzz on IG with a short but sweet farewell which nicely represented his time at the club. Kept it real with a cheeky laugh at the end as well, plus he double platformed his message on Twitter too for maximum coverage. Top work, Mr Sherry.
5. Roy Krishna
This one was a big blow. The best player, gone. Can’t blame him but still, he’s gonna be tough to replace. So… how did he say farewell? Not on instragram initially, although he did pop up an optimistic post at the end of the season (which talked about ‘picking up again’ after a short break). But he was actually on holiday at the time of the reveal so understandable that he took a bit of a hiatus from the ol’ social media whirlpool before getting his own personal words out there - outside of a decent enough quote on the club’s website… but we don’t really know how much of that he wrote. No hard feelings, especially given how accessible he always is with fans (and in hindsight the last few weeks of award speeches sorta acted as an extended farewell tour even if he wasn’t necessarily leaving at that point). Eventually he did roll out some heartfelt words of his own though, directly from the source. Thanked the fans for their support. Acknowledged his journey with the club going way back. Even chucked in a little cultural flair. Loses some points for the tardiness, even if it’s excusable, but he got that cross-platform pollination going and the words themselves are lovely and gotta love that he’s honest about his reasons for leaving too. Cheers for everything, Roy. We’re gonna miss ya.
4. Tom Doyle
The last of them to be released, not sure if that meant there were negotiations that didn’t click or whatever but Doyle gets squeezed in here at four on the back of this one. Cheeky use of imagery with the Libby Cacace shush notion, ironically that’s now better known from the fella who’s kinda pushed him out of the team, plus there’s that humour in there with the End of an Era bit. But while Sheridan goes for straight humour, Doyle mixes it up with some nostalgic perspective and some of that heart-warming optimism in combination. Not a hint of bitterness here. Still supports the club even after leaving. It’s all good.
3. Antony Golec
Points to Tony for getting out ahead of things here. This was two weeks before he was properly released by the club, nobody likes to be left hanging and it was never too likely that a mid-season replacement from overseas stuck around too long anyway so fair play to him for getting it out there swiftly. Now, six separate images on the post… a bit excessive. However the words themselves are great. Acknowledges the relatively small role he played with genuine humility and appears truly grateful for the opportunity which is always lovely to see. Sharp but simple use of appropriate emojis. Treats the fans with dignity here. It’s a classy statement from a player who could have slid out of town with minimal fuss. He put out a similarly genuine post when he left Central Coast too, a club he was at a lot longer, and this wasn’t just a copy-paste affair so full credit to a quality bloke. Might be overdoing it with the three exclamation points, is all.
2. David Williams
A lot to digest here, beginning with the immediate shot at the doubters which perhaps isn’t the best start. Assuming off the bat that most people aren’t about to believe what he’s got to say, but okay. Now, technically he’d be right about those negotiations, what he doesn’t say is whether they were ever likely to come to an agreement which you kinda think they weren’t. But, true story, that is the way football goes sometimes. Willo offers thanks to the club and love to the fans. He celebrates the year he had and embraces being able to share that with the rest of us. Appreciation for the good times. Yeah, this one came back around into quite a lovely little farewell. Dunno why he bothered to sign it off with his own nickname when it’s on his personal account. Also, five photos is a lot but there’s a really nice variety to them that almost tells a tale in itself. Shot, Willo. You’ve done good here, son.
1. Andrew Durante
Oh Dura. It’s a shame it had to end this way but so it goes. This is a different approach than most and for a good reason. The fella’d been here eleven years and thus he wrote an essay in order to say goodbye. Four pages of words plus an image of him applauding the fans at the end, very touching. He begins by highlighting his disbelief at all he’s managed to achieve at this club. He then acknowledges the journey that he, the fans, and the Wellington Phoenix have been on this past decade. When it comes time to admit that it’s over, he makes sure to prioritise the right things: family and fresh challenges. To finish he offers sincere goodwill, talks of the place Wellington has in his heart (again tying it back to family), and then says thank you once more before looking eagerly towards the future. Very emotionally raw, which it needed to be in order to capture the significance of leaving after having been such a significant part of the club for so long. If there’s one criticism it’s that the screenshotted message isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing… but Dura had a lot he needed to cover here and he somehow managed to live up to expectations. It’s a bit like when a movie you’re super pumped about finally comes out after years of hype and it’s actually as good as you imagined (insert Game of Thrones final season joke here)… except also the complete opposite of that situation because he’s leaving. This is quite the achievement.
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