Wanderers player wins top award

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In just his second season with the Gore Wanderers, Frank ‘‘Frodo’’ de Jong has picked up a major accolade.
At the Southland Football prizegiving last Thursday, de Jong picked up the Southland Footballer of the Year award in a shock result for the Dutch native.
He said he had not realised he was even nominated until the day of the awards when he got a call from Southland Football to ask whether he would be attending the awards.
He was already intending to go but more as support for his team and team-mates.
‘‘I went along to the prizegiving and knew I was nominated and I wasn’t expecting much. I was expecting Juan [Jaurretche, also Gore Wanderers] to win, as he was nominated as well,’’ de Jong said.
De Jong has now lived in New Zealand for four years. Initially he was unsure whether football was even played in Southland.
He moved to New Zealand from northern Holland. He played for a club called VV Nieuwe Niedorp and followed top Dutch club Ajax.
It was in Holland that he picked up the nickname Frodo, which has travelled with him all the way to New Zealand.
‘‘My friends over in Holland called me it when I had a bit longer hair and looked like Frodo from Lord of the Rings.’’
He said he moved to New Zealand in 2012 where he mixed work and travel.
After nine months he met his future partner in Wyndham and decided to stay and work on the Triflor tulip farm.
After several years of travelling to and from Holland to renew work visas, de Jong is hoping to gain residency here.
His team-mates will be hoping he sticks around, after he scored nine goals in the Donald Gray Premier league.
De Jong said he was happy with the Wanderers’ turnaround since last season.
He said last year the side was in a building phase. On average only eight people turned up to training in comparison to the 20-plus, two nights a week this year.
‘‘Last year I was the top goal scorer in the side with four goals, compared to this year when Miguel [Ortiz] scored 13 and I scored 9. It is a big difference,’’ he said.
De Jong said the Charity Cup final 8-1 win against Old Boys was a highlight.
‘‘If we can keep the same team at the club it can only be a good thing.
‘‘The big goal is to hopefully win Donald Gray next year which we will have to battle hard for.’’