The Premier League is blessed to have been graced by the presence of six different New Zealanders (so far, anyway). Lee Norfolk made the initial pilgrimage with Ipswich back in the day, followed by Danny Hay who had a small but memorable stint with Leeds - in which his four games included 4-3 wins over Spurs and Liverpool as well as 90 minutes at Old Trafford and he also popped up in the 89th minute as a sub away to Barcelona in the Champions. Not such bad yarns there, Danny Boy.
Simon Elliott played 12 times for Fulham but injuries, like with most of these players, meant he never kicked on. No worries, Ryan Nelsen had already set himself up as the main trail blazer by then anyway. 172 games for Blackburn followed by a short spell at Spurs and two-thirds of a season with QPR to finish and he played 198 times all up, scoring nine times.
Winston Reid then picked up where Nelly left off and he’s been known to chip in with some remarkably important goals in his time. Late winners, derby goals… he even scored the final ever goal at the iconic Upton Park. But Nelsen and Reid are both defenders. They’re there to perform those acts of dark magic that all defenders all do. Sacrificing goats for clean sheets or whatever.
Chris Wood, on the other hand, is a goal-scoring striker with some serious pedigree after what he just did at Leeds. Chuck him into that Burnley team and chances are goals will flow. Woody already has one Premier League goal from back in the day which means three different kiwis (out of the six) have scored in the PL. Three different scorers combining for 16 goals, netted at four different clubs. Thanks to Woody’s recent move to Burnley those numbers are about to blow out big time so let’s celebrate the humble beginnings while we still can…
Blackburn 2-0 Wigan, 26/4/2009 (H)
The 26th of April, a famous day. The day after Anzac Day and The Great One scored his first ever Premier League goal. By his last couple seasons at Blackburn he’d grown a knack for popping up with the odd goal (his last two full seasons he scored seven of his nine PL goals) but in the beginning that was not his bag at all. Believe it or not his first goal came in his 117th Premier League appearance. A flicked header from Benni McCarthy’s free kick did the business and also earned Blackburn a crucial three points on their way to avoiding relegation after McCarthy had already given Rovers the lead on the brink of half-time.
Blackburn 3-1 Portsmouth, 7/11/2009 (H)
Pompey took the lead in this one though Jamie O’Hara’s 30 yard strike but then on came Jason Robert at HT and within minutes he’d levelled it up, stabbing in following a knockdown from none other than Captain Nelly. And the kiwi then had his own goal soon enough after. The BBC called it a “thumping header” from a David Dunn corner and that seems about right. Robert added one more for the icing on the cake.
Blackburn 1-2 Birmingham, 15/12/2009 (A)
Two goals from Cameron Jerome had Birmingham well on top here but with 22 minutes still remaining Pascal Chimbonda’s header was saved by a young Joe Hart (!) only to fall generously for Nelson on the follow up. No equaliser was forthcoming.
Blackburn 2-0 Fulham, 17/1/2010 (H)
A third goal in barely over three months. Nelsen and McCarthy had clearly figured out the formula and here was another goal coming from a header off one of the South African’s set pieces, this time a glancing touch on a deep one. McCarthy had already set up Nelsen’s fellow defender Chris Samba in the first half and so Nelly’s goal went a long way towards wrapping up another big three points and keeping them from slipping down into the relegation scrappers.
Blackburn 1-1 Wolves, 24/4/2010 (A)
This was definitely a dour mid-table clash as two teams who had more or less avoided the drop by this time had little else to play for. So Sam Allardyce mixed things up with a back three (waaay before Antonio Conte!) and starting alongside Nelsen within said back three were Gael Givet and Phil Jones. Yes, that Phil Jones, currently of Manchester United. But it was Nelsen who scored the goal. He appeared at the far post to poke in Morten Gamst Pedersen’s corner with his right knee (again, a goal from a corner) in the 28th minute. Looked like it’d earn the win too until Sylvan Ebanks-Blake scored with under ten to play.
Blackburn 2-4 Spurs, 13/11/2010 (A)
Within 15 months he’d be playing for Tottenham but he wasn’t to know that when he diverted a David Dunn shot into the net with ten minutes left at White Hart Lane. Which, by the way, makes that ground the only one at which both Winston Reid and Ryan Nelsen have scored at in the PL. Of course, they were already 4-0 down by the time Nelly buried his one – goals to Bale, Pavlyuchenko, Crouch and then Bale again. Givet added a 90th min second for Bburn. This was the season Bale won PFA Players' Player of the Year for the first time.
Blackburn 3-0 Wolves, 4/12/2010 (H)
Another goal against Wolves yet this time it was on the way to victory. David Dunn and Brett Emerton scored in the first half and Nelsen added the final goal on 55 minutes. Beat his marker from a Pedersen free kick and made no mistake with the finish. He was also the one to head Pederson’s looping corner back across goal for Dunn’s firstie. Good win here, especially coming only a week after they were pumped 7-1 by Manchester United.
Blackburn 1-1 West Ham, 18/12/2010 (H)
And then his final goal for Rovers. Not only that but his third in six games, even. A scuffy finish with his knee on the second attempt rustled the net soon after the break but Junior Stanislas equalised with a dozen left on the clock. This was Steve Kean’s first game in charge after Sam Allardyce had been sacked having fallen out with the new owners (Nelly had a pop at them too, tbf). West Ham’s Avram Grant was able to keep his job (despite already being in trouble at this stage) for another five months but when he did lose it, it was Allardyce who replaced him. Nelsen was released in January the following season to join Spurs (while Blackburn went on to be relegated) and then hooked up with ‘Arry Redknapp six months later at QPR for his final stint.
QPR 2-2 Wigan, 8/12/2012 (A)
Nelly’s one season at QPR was nothing special. They were relegated in last place with only four wins all season but Nelsen retired at the end of January to become a manager at Toronto FC. He played 21 times for Rangers in the PL and scored one goal. Fittingly it was a header, beating his marker and slamming one off the noggin past Ali Al-Habsi. That made it 1-1 and Rangers briefly took the lead but James McCarthy equalised to ensure QPR set a new record for the longest unbeaten start to a Premier League campaign. 16 games it was - they’d finally beat Fulham 2-1 a week later. Nelsen’s first and last PL goals both came against Wigan.
West Ham 3-0 Fulham, 1/9/2012 (H)
Winston’s first ever goal in the Premier League came after he’d already suffered relegation and enjoyed promotion. By the time they came back up he was well set in the starting XI and in their third game of the new campaign they cruised to a home victory over Fulham. The game is most remembered for the debut of Winnie’s good mate Andy Carroll (then on loan from Liverpool) as the big fella set up two goals but in between those goals was a famous moment for Reidy as he broke free at the near post to score a free header from Matt Taylor’s corner.
West Ham 3-0 Spurs, 6/10/2013 (A)
Three second half goals, beginning with Reid in the 66th minute, gave West Ham a brilliant three points against their London rivals here – a first win at White Hart Lane since 1999. This was back in the days of Andre Villas-Boas at Spurs and Ravel Morrison scored the third goal with a brilliant solo effort. As for Reid’s goal, it wasn’t a header from a corner… it was a rebounded shot from six yards after his header from a corner had been blocked (by teammate Kevin Nolan, d’oh) and bounced back to him for a sitter.
West Ham 3-1 Liverpool, 20/9/2014 (H)
Over eleven months since his last goal, Winston tapped in a close ranger in the second minute against Liverpool. He doesn’t score many but he’s good for a crucial one here and there. Stewart Downing’s free kick was headed back across goal by James Tomkins and Winston could hardly miss… although Dejan Lovren got a knee on it. Diafra Sakho scored another early one before Raheem Sterling made it 2-1 but Morgan Amalfitano killed it off in the 88th minute and there was nothing Mario Balotelli could do about it.
West Ham 3-2 Man Utd, 10/5/2016 (H)
Probably the most famous goal that Aotearoa has been responsible in the Premier League. This one was a classic as West Ham harnessed the emotions of the final ever game at Upton Park to come from behind to win it late thanks to a rising, powerful header from Winston that David de Gea could only parry into the net. Suffice to say the crowd erupted.
West Ham 1-0 Sunderland, 22/10/2016 (H)
Nothing dramatic here, just an injury time winner is all. Winnie cutting past his closing marker on the edge of the box and slamming it home for the victory. Sunderland went on to get relegated so this one, arguably the best goal on this list, saved a fair bit of embarrassment at West Ham’s new home (where to be fair embarrassment was rather common at that time).
West Ham 4-1 Swansea, 26/12/2016 (A)
The Bob Bradley era didn’t go too well in Swansea and this was his eleventh and final game in charge before he was sacked the next day. Andre Ayew had already given WHU the lead going into the break before Winston buried one from a corner in the 50th minute. Unsurprisingly it was a header from another corner. This was also the first time he’d scored two PL goals in one season after a single strike in four straight.
By the way, add in 3 goals in the Championship and 1 in the FA Cup and West Ham have won every game in which Winston Reid has scored, in all competitions.
Leicester 2-2 Everton, 16/8/2014 (H)
Three subs appearances with West Brom never gave Woody much of a chance but hopes were higher when he earned promotion back to the top with Leicester. Coming on as an 78th minute substitute in their first game of the season, The Woodsman popped up in the right place at the right time to bury the equaliser that earned the Foxes a draw with only five minutes remaining. He’d play six more times off the bench to no glory before going out on loan to Ipswich and eventually on a permanent deal to Leeds where the rest, as they say, is history.
Powerful headers from set pieces are a national art-form. Produce your own metaphorical version of one by powering the ol’ clicker into a dirty ad and giving it your best Winnie/Nelly for the TNC team.