On the eve of the 52nd season of professional soccer in Western Australia, we take a look at how the top flight is shaping up for the winter season ahead by reviewing each of the Soccer West Coast clubs. Over the past seven years seven different clubs - Stirling Macedonia (nee Lions), Inglewood Falcons (nee United), Floreat Athena, Western Knights, E.C.U. Joondalup, Fremantle City and Sorrento - have lifted the Premier League championship ... but who will do the job in 2002?
Undefeated in their seven Night Series outings, Perth S.C. will once again be the gauge by which all
other clubs will measure themselves this season. Coach Graham Normanton has held on to the bulk of
last seasons' treble winning squad and attracted some quality additions to the side in Tony Cumace and
former Eastern Pride midfielder Robbie Puca. With the character and depth Normanton currently has
available at Dorrien Gardens, it's difficult to see them not lift more silverware before the season
Players to watch : Robbie Gaspar, Robbie Puca, Robert Scarparolo
Going on pre-season form, the only side who will push Perth for the home-and-away season trophy will be
Western Knights, who are undoubtedly the years' big improvers. Newcomers Evan Wallace and Stuart
Montgomery have slotted in the side with a minimum of fuss, while the return of Tommi Tomich, Paul
McVittie and Ray Marinovic has certainly strengthened Ronnie Campbell's squad. After appearances
in the finals of the B.C.G. Cup and Night Series, the Knights have shown they've got what it takes to
add another trophy to the cabinet in 2002.
Players to watch : Stuart Montgomery, Claus Neilsen, Ray Marinovic
Cockburn City surprised many by making the top five play-offs in 2001, and there's no reasons they won't
be there again come seasons' end. New coach Mark Jackson has made good use of the clubs youth ranks
over the off-season with Denis Stojanovic, Robert Colalillo, Jeff Bright and Domenic De Felice all
promoted to the senior list with a close eye on the club's future. The return of Golden Boot winner
Branimir Mikulic and State midfielder Paul Cooke after summer operations are just two more reasons
why 2002 is shaping up to be Cockburn's best season in recent memory.
Players to watch : Christian Paschewitz, Dusan Macura, Jeff Bright
The off-season was cruel to Sorrento with the departure of no less than five players who figured
prominently in the club capturing their first ever Premier League crown last year. But newish
coach Steve Neville has filled the gaps with the signing of Mark Burns, Lee Cox, Sean Fallon, Iain
Deans and State Under-19 defender Daniel Stoitis who should help off-set their losses. Semi-finalists
in the Night Series, Sorrento will have to dig very deep in order to make it back-to-back championships
with so many changes in their playing ranks.
Players to watch : Kevin Murphy, Ryan Jeans, Daniel Stoitis
A critical analysis of the strengths and weaknesses at E.C.U. Joondalup has seen coach Paul Simmons
turn up for the new campaign with a much-changed squad. Several members of the club's successful
youth teams of recent years have been promoted to the senior list while the signing of former English
League players Paddy Rooney (ex-Wolverhampton Wanderers) and Lee Stratford (ex-Nottingham Forest) will
add an extra dimension to their options. Joondalup may not be up there with Perth and the Knights
this season, but there is a bright future just around the corner for the northern suburbs club.
Players to watch : Andy Mason, Garin Collins, Jamie Kuzmanovich
Steve Parkinson would have been disappointed that Inglewood United did not reach the play-off stage of
the Night Series last month. Since taking over the reigns at the start of last season, Parkinson has
revitalised the clubs playing stocks by blending youth with experience. With competition for spots
fierce, off-season recruits Lucas Gobbi, Boni Botha and Gerry McEwan will have a fight on their hands
to keep their place in the starting line-up. 2001 was always going to be a season of adjustment for
Inglewood, but anything short of a place in the play-offs this year will be considered a failure.
Players to watch : Scott Campbell, Andy Cornmell, Oliver Taseski
There are very real concerns that the ill-timed departure of coach John Hunter has de-stabilised the
Floreat Athena camp. Having made three finals last season, Athena failed to inspire during the Night
Series when they bowed out with just one win from their five group matches. Injury to key players may
have played a part in their poor pre-season showing, but former West Adelaide coach Peter Koulizos has
a job ahead of him in turning around Athena's fortunes and getting them to produce the match winning
form they so confidently displayed in 2001.
Players to watch : Robin Dyers, Costa Socratous, Hugh Miller
To take nothing away from the talented group of players at Future Glory, much of their success depends
upon which members of the Perth Glory squad will turn out on a weekly basis. The League newcomers
have surprised many at how quickly they've gelled under coach Frank Arok who put his players through an
intense pre-season training schedule. Impressive in the Night Series when they made the semi-final's at
the first attempt, Future will truly be put to the test mid-season when they go six weeks without being
able to call upon the experience of their parent club's senior squad.
Players to watch : Shaun Kilkelly, Mileta Miletic, Miki Vujacic
After spending all of 2001 languishing towards the bottom of the Premier League table, Bassendean
Caledonian demonstrated during the Night Series that they are a much changed side who are more than
capable of mixing it with the competitions big boys. Coach Allan Weir has strengthened his squad
with the signing of several new players, including experienced midfielders Dean Gartside, Craig Naven
and Paul Strudwick, to complement those already at the club. With much of last seasons' squad still
at the club, and a handful of youngsters coming up through the ranks, Caledonian should have a much
better second season in the top flight.
Players to watch : Devid Vitale, Jimmy Merkouris, Simon Henderson
With plans firmly in place for the future of the club, it was a new-look Fremantle City outfit that
took part in the recent Night Series tournament. New coach Greg Kazmer has continued to develop the
club from within their strong youth ranks by promoting a bundle of youngsters, including Australian
Under-16 striker Josh Kamasz, to the senior list. With so many young players in the squad this
season, Kazmer will have done well if he can keep them away from the relegation zone, but such a
result will serve Fremantle well in years to come.
Players to watch : Josh Kamasz, Damien Trim, Cisco Jorquiera
Saved from the First Division by the inclusion of Future Glory in the top flight, Swan I.C. could
find themselves in another relegation battle this year. Coach Paul Wozny was no doubt over joyed by
the club's strong showing in the Night Series and will enjoy the opportunity of leading Swan into a new
season for the first time. His biggest hurdle in 2002 will be overcoming a lack of depth at Swan where
the match day squad is solid and usually picks itself, but once injuries and suspensions start to
accumulate he'd have to look to a bank of young and relatively inexperienced players to see them
Players to watch : Carlo Scali, Corey Hugo, Trevor Hatton
Few from the Ashfield camp would argue that 2002 is going to be a very difficult season for last years
First Division champions. Resources are stretched for coach Tom Kilkelly who will be hoping for an
injury free winter and some big performances from the likes of Steve Gillibrand, David Mayers and
Adrian Spinelli across the middle of the park. The club have a wealth of talented young players at
their disposal, but it'll be asking a lot for some of them to step up to senior football so early in
Players to watch : Karl Atley, Adam Kiley, Steve Gillibrand
Brett's Predicted SWC Premier League Table 1 Western Knights 2 Perth 3 Cockburn City 4 Sorrento 5 ECU Joondalup 6 Inglewood United 7 Floreat Athena 8 Future Glory 9 Bassendean Caledonian 10 Fremantle City 11 Swan I.C. 12 Ashfield
If you were putting money on who'd win promotion from the First Division this season, it' be very difficult to go past Stirling Lions. Pipped at the post in each of the last two seasons, the Lions recruited well over the summer and are clearly with side to beat with players of the calibre of Bobbi Klenkovski, Toby Wright, Andy Wright and Rob Pucovski swelling their ranks. Their biggest challenge is expected to come from Armadale where coach Billy Russell has gone on a summer signing spree of his own. Dennis Lee and Greg Newcombe have clicked immediately in attack while the inclusion of Lee Hallums, Luke Morris and Craig Anderson should see them push the Lions all the way in the hunt for the title.
State League new-comers Mandurah City, who came fourth in amateur's top flight last season, are expected to perform strongly and finish somewhere near the top of the ladder. Resounding early wins over Perth City and South West Phoenix shows that they will not be a side to underestimate this year. After good showings in 2001, both Perth City and Leeming Strikers should build upon their successes and be up there contesting for place in the top half of the ladder come seasons' end. The recent signing of Ivica Markovic and Vladimir Beretovac has added some much needed strength to the Stirling Suns line-up. Bayswater City coach Salv Todaro laid some solid foundations last season and with a squad revitalised by a number of new faces they should put in a much improved showing this year.
Although de-stablised by the recent departure of over a dozen first team players, Queens Park have started the new campaign brightly but they are going to have to overcome a lack of depth as the season progresses. With doubt hanging over their season until a matter of months ago, Dianella White Eagles many of their more experienced players lured to other clubs and a mid-table is the best they can hope to achieve in 2002. Kingsway Olympic's glory days are fast becoming a distant memory and it difficult to see them finishing in the top half of the ladder. After their brief flirtation with the top flight, Rockingham City have slowly seen their squad drift away and they'll find 2002 a trying time.
Another club to be devastated by the departure of many of last years players is South West Phoenix who will find it difficult to match the successes of 2001. Having recently picked up a number of senior players from Queens Park, Southside United should have a more productive campaign time that last years' and a top ten finish will be quite an achievement. In just their second year of Soccer West Coast competition, Canning City will continue to build towards the future by promoting players through their youth ranks but will struggle along with Wanneroo City, Morley Windmills, and Balcatta.
Brett's Predicted SWC First Division Table 1 Stirling Lions 2 Armadale 3 Mandurah City 4 Perth City 5 Leeming Strikers 6 Stirling Suns 7 Bayswater City 8 Queens Park 9 Dianella White Eagles 10 Kingsway Olympic 11 Southside United 12 Rockingham City 13 Wanneroo City 14 South West Phoenix 15 Morley Windmills 16 Canning City 17 Balcatta
Jacob's Predicted SWC Premier League Table 1 Perth 2 Sorrento 3 Western Knights 4 Inglewood United 5 Future Glory 6 Cockburn City 7 Floreat Athena 8 ECU Joondalup 9 Fremantle City 10 Swan I.C. 11 Bassendean Caledonian 12 Ashfield
Predicted SWC First Division Table 1 Stirling Lions 2 Perth City 3 Armadale 4 Mandurah City 5 Kingsway Olympic 6 South West Phoenix 7 Bayswater City Panthers 8 Rockingham City 9 Stirling Suns 10 Dianella White Eagles 11 Queens Park 12 Canning City 13 Morley Windmills 14 Leeming Strikers 15 Southside United 16 Balcatta 17 Wanneroo City
WAASSA Premier Division1 Hamersley Rovers 2 Spearwood Dalmatinac 3 Murdoch University 4 Kwinana United 5 Forrestfield United 6 Balga 7 University of WA 8 Shamrock Rovers 9 Fremantle United 10 Subiaco 11 ECU Joondalup Amateurs 12 Perth Azzurri
WAASSA First Division1 Geraldton La Fiamma 2 Belmont Villa 3 WA Maccabi 4 Cloverdale Chindits 5 Cockburn City Amateurs 6 Carlisle 7 North Perth United 8 Suburbs United 9 CN Canning International 10 Morley Windmills Amateurs 11 North Beach 12 Colo Colo
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This page was last updated on the 24th February 2006