In the past decade no less than eight different clubs have raised the Premier League trophy come seasons’ end. The forty-fourth season of professional football in Western Australia sees Perth S.C. gunning for a hat-trick of championships, but there are plenty of sides waiting to trip them up and topple the pre-season favourite. On the eve of the new season we take a critical look at the top flight, assess each clubs strengths and weaknesses, and go out on a limb with a few predictions as to how we see season 2004 panning out ...
Punters looking to lay money on who’ll take out the 2004 Premier League title would be hard pressed to go past reigning trophy holders Perth S.C. The facts speak for themselves - Perth are West Australia’s top club, capturing an astonishing twelve trophies which includes four successive Top Five crowns since the appointment of Graham Normanton just under five years ago. Any thoughts that their dominance of the local scene was over following some heavy off-season losses were quickly laid to rest as the Blues swept their way to victory in the recently completed Night Series. Robert Scarparolo, Aaron Cole, Rob Giorgi, Todd Howarth and Robbie Puca have all been influential figures in recent years and will continue to be so. The addition of Alan Mattecucci has strengthened their goalkeeping stocks, while their emphasis on youth development has enabled David Micevski, Daniel Micevski and Ben Rogers to effortlessly step up from within the ranks. A young but vastly experienced squad who possess a burning desire to claim further silverware before the year is out make Perth the undisputed championship favourite.
In - James Anderson (South West Phoenix), Christian Debarro (Perth S.C.), Alan Mattecucci (E.C.U. Joondalup), John Nicolaou (Western Knights)
Out - Daniel Arias (Spain), Adam Bunce (work), Jason Colli (Inglewood United), Dawson Cormac (Bayswater City), Damir Kudozovic (Bayswater City), Gareth Naven (retired), Albert Osei-Tutu (Fremantle City), Gianni Papalia (Bayswater City), Vince Tana (retired), Steven Willey (retired), Stephen Worthy (Sorrento), Alan Zilic (Stirling Lions)
Make no mistake about it - Cockburn City are set for a big year. Premier League runners-up last season, the club have taken stock of their situation, stabilised the playing roster and appointed coach Kevin Elliott as they attempt to go on place better in 2004. The past couple of years has seen Cockburn refocus their energies with the end goal of re-establish themselves as a major player in the top flight. In doing so the greater emphasis placed on youth development has added depth to the senior list with a number of talented teenagers now pushing for places in the starting line-up. Their stocks have been further bolstered for the coming season by the return of skilful midfielder Antonio Naglieri and Australian Under-20 international Liam Lilly. Dino Pacella, Dusan Macura and Boza Erakovic underpin one of the best defences in the local game, while the attack-minded trio of Michael Mirco, John Mirco and Peter Petkovich between them create just as many goal as they score. An early exit from the Night Series won’t phase Cockburn who, come the end of the year, will be fighting it out with Perth S.C. for top honours.
In - Simon El Chami (Gosnells City), Graham Herd (Gosnells City), Lloyd Humphries (Rockingham City), Joe Liguan (Fremantle City), Liam Lilly (Australian Institute of Sport)
Out - Jeff Bright (Fremantle City), Leroy Goodwin (Leeming Strikers), Josh Pescud, Denis Stojanovic (retired)
A place in the last four of the Night Series is only a tempter of things to come from Fremantle City. Well placed at the half-way stage last season, the port side won just one of their last ten games to plummet to ninth on the final standings. Over the summer the club hierarchy have taken steps to ensure there are no repeat performances through a combination of astute recruitment and the promotion of players from within the club. In Jeff Bright and Jason Godfrey they’ve added two of the local games rising stars, Matt Danskin returns from a lengthy spell with German club Werder Bremen, and Kevin Correia is finally reproducing the form that saw him win a contract in Portugal several years back. The retirement of veteran Alex Cummings is Fremantle’s only major departure, meaning the core of Craig Surtees, Dean Apelgren, Peter Lord and Branimir Mikulic remains in tact. Behind reigning champions Perth S.C., Fremantle possess the youngest and arguably best balanced overall squad in the top flight.
In - Jeff Bright (Cockburn City), Kevin Correia (long-term injury), Michael Cross, Matthew Danksin (Werder Bremen, Germany), Gary Faria (Perth Glory), Jason Godfrey (Inglewood United), Albert Osei-Tutu (Perth S.C.)
Out - Alex Cummings (retired), James Hesketh (Total Network Solutions, Wales), Joe Liguan (Cockburn City), John Thornley (Western Knights), Seb Trim (Western Knights), Michael Vaz (Leeming Strikers), Dulio Xavier (Bassendean Caledonian)
Club legend Michael Roki appears to have ironed out the wrinkles in Floreat Athena’s fabric. The newly appointed coach kept much the same squad as last year, only he’s managed to gel what is a very talented group of individuals into a cohesive unit which as a common goal. Versatile 22-year old Anthony Jones has been in devastating pre-season form and together with Jamie Trandos and new signing Adam Bachillor will provide much of Athena’s attacking drive this winter. And the return of quick-thinking striker Peter Coci is exactly what the doctor ordered following a season in goals were hard to come by for the club. Loyal servant Adrian Sutton will once again command the defence in which underrated goalkeeper Vas Vujacic replaces Vince Matassa. A late season charge last year showed that Athena are capable of matching it with the best of opponents, and should they be able to remain focused and largely injury-free in 2004 there is absolutely no reason why they won’t make the final series.
In - Adam Bachillor (The City), Peter Coci (long-term injury), Tom Jones (E.C.U. Joondalup, currently injured), Vas Vujacic (Adelaide City)
Out - Jimmy Christopoulous (Bassendean Caledonian), Nikolas Christos (Kingsway Olympic), Robert Cibesku (Dianella White Eagles), Sasa Kilibarda, Vince Matassa (Perth Glory), Alex Novatsis (Ashfield), Kristian Novatsis (Ashfield), Andreas Pantelis
The mid-2003 arrival of Eddy Hodgkinson heralded an amazing turnaround in the fortunes of Inglewood United. Staring at an early end to their season, Hodgkinson was quick to mould the playing squad into a cohesive unit that lost just once in their final eight outings to storm their way to fourth place and a spot in the play-offs. For the new campaign Inglewood have retained much the same squad although the departure of Jamie Kuzmanovich, Jason Godfrey and Paul Baczynski has considerably weakened their depth at the back. The arrival of Daniel Stoitis will go some way to suring up their defensive stocks, while youngsters Jason Colli and Oliver Hilton add a degree of flair to the attacking options. The non-stop workrate of Alan MacKenzie, Jamie Goodman and Shaun Kilkelly provides the team with a solid backing for the likes of Scott Campbell, Michael Baczynski and Louis Parkinson to work their magic when going forward. Once their get into stride Inglewood are a very difficult side to beat and a second successive finals appearance will be a fitting reward.
In - Jason Colli (Perth S.C.), Bryan Hedges (Kingsway Olympic), Farrell Hedges (Sorrento), Oliver Hilton (Stockport County, England), Daniel Stoitis (Sorrento), Nick Stone (long-term injury)
Out - Faheed Albumajim, Matt Aitken (Queens Park), Dom Ando (Bassendean Caledonian), Paul Baczynski (Queens Park), Michael Bushby (Armadale), Jason Godfrey (Fremantle City), Daniel Harrop (Bassendean Caledonian), Jamie Kuzmanovich (E.C.U. Joondalup), Beni Pietropiccolo, Renata Rechichi (Swan I.C.)
For whatever the reasons, Western Knights all too often end up left at the altar. No one could doubt the quality of talent on display at Nash Field but somewhere along the way the message has a habit of getting lost and the silverware slips agonisingly from their grasp. Over the summer long-serving coach Ronnie Campbell has added an impressive array of players to the squad including hard-working duo Jason Williams and Mark Lee, and young guns Josh Kamasz and Greg Montenegro. While on paper this makes them a much stronger proposition than this time last year, the Knights still lack the sort of depth that would enable them to mount a serious challenge on the Premier League title. At full-strength they are hard to stop with a line-up featuring Tommi Tomich, regarded by many as the best goalkeeper in the state, defenders Evan Wallace and Leon Russell, versatile import Claus Nielsen and lively striker Stuart Montgomery. But once injury and suspensions take effect the Knights, as has been the case in previous seasons, will find themselves a little on the light side.
In - Josh Kamasz (E.C.U. Joondalup), Mark Lee (Swan I.C.), John Thornley (Fremantle City), Seb Trim (Fremantle City), Jason Williams (South Australia)
Out - Brett Colombera (Sorrento), Erik Kuzmar (Bassendean Caledonian), Arthur Majewski (Bassendean Caledonian), Andrew McGettrick (Leeming Strikers), Paul McVittie (retired), Sam Miller (Wanneroo City), John Nicolaou (Perth S.C.)
There’s been much change at E.C.U. Joondalup following the reappointment of Paul Simmons as senior coach. The young squad which went with one game of a place in the play-offs has effectively been dismantled as familiar faces make their way back to the club. Heading the long list of outs are state midfielder Scott Bulloch, Josh Kamasz and Derek Cooke, while those regulars who remain look likely to spend much of the winter in the fringes of first team selection. The returning quintet/sextet of Dale McCulloch, Jamie Kuzmanovich, Andy Mason, Andy Brown, John Higgins and Scott Broadley will form the backbone of the line-up along with one-time Berwick Rovers midfielder Keith Brown. While the squad is strong on paper, Joondalup have over the years formed a dreadful habit of letting themselves down through a combination of poor discipline and inconsistency. A hit and miss proposition, Joondalup have the ability to finish mid-table but whether that includes a place in the finals is down to just how much the players will want it.
In - Scott Broadley (Balcatta), Andy Brown (Kingsway Olympic), Keith Brown (The City), Alan Henderson (Kingsway Olympic), John Higgins (Kingsway Olympic), Jamie Kuzmanovich (Inglewood United), Dale McCulloch (Sorrento), Andy Mason (Sorrento), Scott Patterson (Swan I.C), Gareth Phillips (Sorrento), Steve White (Sorrento)
Out - Scott Bulloch (Wanneroo City), Ian Bunton (Kingsway Olympic), Derek Cooke (Stirling Lions), Luke Croxall (Bassendean Caledonian), Tom Jones (Floreat Athena), Abdul Kamara, Josh Kamasz (Western Knights), Paul Larkin (Stirling Lions), Alan Mattecucci (Perth S.C.), Ashwin Nair (Wanneroo City), Philip O’Callaghan (Wanneroo City), Steve Petrig (Wanneroo City), Andre Sarpe (Stirling Lions), Peter Vukmirovic (Bassendean Caledonian)
It’s a good thing that Gary Marocchi knows what it takes to get the best out of those players at his disposal. A month ago Boral Cup holder Swan I.C. were being touted as possible championship material, however, all that changed recently with the retirement of Dean Nicolaou, Michael Di Fulvio and Darren Blankley. These came hot on the heels of Christian Marocchi being ruled out by injury for much of the year and the departure of midfielders Mark Lee and Scott Patterson. On a more positive note the black and whites successful 2003 campaign has attracted hard-working defender Tony Cumace to the Swan Valley along with creative youngsters Miki Vujacic, Renato Rechichi and David Foster. With the experienced duo Elton Holmes and Paul Lincoln leading the charge into attack, not to mention promising 20-year old Tom Shepheard, Swan are assured of goals. But even with Corey Hugo and Carlo Scali marshalling the defence they conceded goals at an alarming rate last year and the question has already been posed as to whether this will be their undoing in 2004.
In - Robbie Anderson (Gosnells City), Tony Cumace (Sorrento), David Foster (Sorrento), Ian Maguire (Gosnells City), Sam Maguire (Gosnells City), Renato Rechichi (Inglewood United), Miki Vujacic (Adelaide City)
Out - Darren Blankley (retired), Michael Di Fulvio (retired), Joe Kendall (Ashfield), Mark Lee (Western Knights), Dave Mahon (Canning City), Christian Marocchi (long-term injury), Dean Nicolaou (retired), Scott Patterson (E.C.U. Joondalup), Adel Samani (Canning City)
There was little cheer about for Stirling Lions faithful supporters in their return to the top flight last year, the club collecting just ten points from twenty games and ending the season stumping up the table. First cab of the rank in returning to the club to the glory days of old was the appointment of a new coaching team, headed by Tom Leeman, who’ve worked hard over the summer to bring together a squad with a fine blend of experience and youth. Toby Wright and Rob Milevski slot neatly into the former category alongside new goalkeeper Gareth Deeg, while in the later are Luke Pavlos, Derek Cooke and Jake Harman amongst a multitude of others. While their losses were kept to a minimum those that have moved on will be sorely missed, none more so than experienced duo Tony Paolino and Andy Wright and brilliant young shot-stopper Jordan Conti. Last year the club found out the hard way what is needed to be competitive in the top flight, and with that knowledge alone they should prove a much stronger proposition in the winter of 2004.
In - Glen Busson (Leeming Strikers), Derek Cooke (E.C.U. Joondalup), Rob Crerar (Rockingham City), Gareth Deeg (Sorrento), Jake Harman (Sorrento), Alex Jankolovski (Stirling Suns), Paul Larkin (E.C.U. Joondalup), Mohammed Komaderic (Ashfield), John Monterosso (Ashfield), Andre Sarpe (E.C.U. Joondalup), Alex Smith (Rockingham City), Dimce Stoichev (Dianella White Eagles), Alan Zilic (Perth S.C.)
Out - Danny Carlino (Balcatta), Joe Cinquina (Balcatta), Jordan Conti (England), Christian Debarro (Perth S.C.), Ken Ftynogiannis (Armadale), Mark Gentile (Balcatta), Gus Pafumi (Balcatta), Tony Paolino (Balcatta), Andy Wright (semi-retirement)
Steve Neville has the difficult task of leading a radically different Sorrento side into the new season. Over the summer the northern suburbs club leached players, no less than eight of last years senior list as well as numerous of their youth brigade no longer on the scene. New signings Phil Straker, formerly of the Sunderland youth academy, and Scott McIlroy have already proven their quality, while Ryan Jeans makes his return from Bassendean Caledonian and brings with him one-time Schoolboys representative Matt Donlevy. Sorrento will rely upon their youth ranks this year more than any other as they embark on a period of re-building and re-establishment. The Gulls faithful will have their fingers crossed that State representatives Glen Thomas and Simon Harland get back to full fitness hastily as their influence, along with that of defenders Richard Watson and Steve MacDonald, will go along way to determining how much of a success 2004 will be.
In - Ben Adams (Kingsway Olympic), Brett Colombera (Western Knights), Matt Donlevy (Bassendean Caledonian), David Houston (Bassendean Caledonian), James Houston (Bassendean Caledonian), Ryan Jeans (Bassendean Caledonian), Scott McIlroy (New South Wales), Phil Straker (Farsley Celtic, England), Stephen Worthy (Perth S.C.)
Out - Tony Cumace (Swan I.C.), Gareth Deeg (Stirling Lions), Andy Evans (Kingsway Olympic), Sean Fallon, David Foster (Swan I.C.), Jake Harman (Stirling Lions), Farrell Hedges (Inglewood United), Peter Noiszewski (Ashfield), Dale McCulloch (E.C.U. Joondalup), Andy Mason (E.C.U. Joondalup), Gareth Phillips (E.C.U. Joondalup), Daniel Stoitis (Inglewood United), Steve White (E.C.U. Joondalup), Mark Wilson (Balcatta), Joseph Woodin (Bassendean Caledonian)
For much of last year Bassendean Caledonian struggled to keep pace with their top flight combatants, and they’ve shown few reasons in pre-season why this won’t be the case once again in 2004. One of their major problems last season was a distinct lack of goals, Caledonian finding the net just twenty times in as many outings, and questions remain as to whether this aspect of their game has been sufficiently addressed in the lead-up to a new campaign. The club will be hoping State goalkeeper Alan Dunlop recovers from a shoulder injury sooner rather than later to lead a defence weakened by the recent retirement of Craig Naven. The impact of club stalwarts Kevin Smith, Ian Griffiths, Kevin Griffiths and Graeme Matthews, as well as new recruits Daniel Harrop and Jason Smith, will have a big bearing on whether Caledonian can stave off relegation. While they’ll no doubt manage a few their fair share of surprises few would argue that the club are in for a bumpy ride this winter.
In - Dom Ando (Inglewood United), Jimmy Christopoulous (Floreat Athena), Luke Croxall (E.C.U. Joondalup), Daniel Harrop (Inglewood United), Erik Kuzmar (Western Knights), Arthur Majewski (Western Knights), Glen McCormick (long-term injury), Jason Smith, Peter Vukmirovic (E.C.U. Joondalup), Joseph Woodin (Sorrento), Dulio Xavier (Fremantle City)
Out - Andy Cornmell, Matt Donlevy (Sorrento), Dean Gartside (Armadale), David Houston (Sorrento), James Houston (Sorrento), Ryan Jeans (Sorrento), Craig Naven (retired), Joel Powell (Ashfield), Wesley Ryder (Forrestfield United)
Recently promoted Bayswater City will spend the year locked in a dog fight with neighbouring Bassendean Caledonian to avoid relegation. Few would argue that the gap between the First Division and the top flight is vast, and Bayswater’s main goal this year is one of survival. In setting out to achieve this Salv Todaro has retained almost all of last seasons championship squad to which depth has been added through the signing of several promising youngsters, amongst them Damir Kudozovic and Lynden Pywell, as well as a couple of Scottish imports. In Gareth Healy, Kevin Henderson and Andrew O’Neill they possess a midfield more than capable of matching it with the best in the top flight. However, defensively Bayswater have a chronic shortage of players with Premier League experience and their ability to prevent goals will ultimately determine whereabouts on the table they’ll finish 2004. While there is a fair degree of optimism about the club, the honest truth is they failed to produce the goods in pre-season and it’s difficult to see that changing once the home-and-away series commences.
In - Francis Allen (Perth S.C.), Ross Barnes (Arniston Rangers, Scotland), Dawson Cormac (Perth S.C.), Damir Kudozovic (Perth S.C.), Wes Mitchell (Arniston Rangers, Scotland), Igor Novakovic (Dianella White Eagles), Gianni Papalia (Perth S.C.), Lynden Pywell (Queens Park)
Out - Adam Ashworth (Ashfield), Jamie Naumovski (Stirling Suns), Nick Paone (Queens Park)
Final Table Prediction 1. Perth S.C. 2. Cockburn City 3. Fremantle City 4. Floreat Athena 5. Inglewood United 6. Western Knights 7. E.C.U. Joondalup 8. Swan I.C. 9. Stirling Lions 10. Sorrento 11. Bassendean Caledonian 12. Bayswater City
The new First Division season kicks-off this weekend with games as far north as Wanneroo and south as Bunbury, not to mention almost everywhere in-between. A seven-month campaign will test even the strongest of clubs, and with only one promotion spot up for grabs it’s going to be a very tight competition. While Mandurah City have been firmly installed as championship material with many pundits, there are a plenty of challengers waiting to pounce should the southerners slip up. Brett Klucznik takes a close look at each of the First Division clubs, assesses their stocks and makes some predictions as to how season 2004 will pan out ...
You'll be hard very pressed to find anyone that genuinely believes Mandurah City will not be sitting in first place come October. They head into the new campaign with much the same squad as last year, albeit strengthened by the promotion of some talented youngsters from within the ranks and a handful of recruits. In Mike Green they have arguably the best goalkeeper in the competition, and the centre of the park will be the domain of Gary Collins and Jordan Rhodes no matter who the opposition. Striker Christian Paschewitz looks set for another stellar season, and new-comer John E. Platt has been quick to show his quality. Pipped for the title last year by Bayswater City, Mandurah have all the necessary ingredients to go one step further in 2004.
In - Neil Connor (Bassendean Caledonian), Shane Connor (Rockingham City), David Dawson (England), Stuart Francis (Cockburn City), Conor McLoughlin (Rockingham City), John E Platt (England)
Out - Nick Archer (study reasons), Neil Patten-Williams (retired)
In the space of just two years Billy Russell has taken Armadale from being one of the First Divisions lesser lights to serious championship material. Minimal movement over the off-season has stablised a squad that has Paul Colkin, Aaron Beattie, Dennis Lee and Nick Twyman at its core. Russell has added to his options by picking up Dean Gartside and Liverpudlian Richard Cranney. Going the other way are promising defender Emlyn Whetnall and Greg Newcombe whose abilities in front of goal will be sorely missed. Possessing a great blend of youth and experience, Armadale are widely regarded as Mandurah City's major rival.
In - Michael Bushby (Inglewood United), Scott Cooper (Gosnells City), Richard Cranny (England), Dean Gartside (Bassendean Caledonian), Jodie Henderson (Queens Park), Stephen Stewart (Rockingham City)
Out - Craig Anderson (England), Marc Craft (study), Steve Cramphorn, Darren Ingham, Nick MacLean (Canning City), Greg Newcombe (Leeming Strikers), Craig Olejnik (long-term injury), Will Kirkpatrick (Sorrento), Emlyn Whetnall (Leeming Strikers)
Stuart Currie has quietly been going about his business at Wanneroo City and for the new campaign has assembled a formidable squad that, on their day, are more than capable of matching the likes of Mandurah City and Armadale. The arrival of State representatives Scott Bulloch and Pedro Pavez as well as veteran striker Nigel Aubin will considerably strengthen the clubs stocks which already boast the considerable talents of 19-year old Chris Currie and veteran defender Gerry McEwan. With a solid pre-season under their belt and the players possessing a strong belief in themselves, Wanneroo will surprise many and claim a place near the top of the standings.
In - Nigel Aubin, Scott Bulloch (E.C.U. Joondalup), Stuart Collins (Queensland), Sam Miller (Western Knights), Ashwin Nair (E.C.U. Joondalup), Phillip O'Callaghan (E.C.U. Joondalup), Pedro Pavez, Steve Petrig (E.C.U. Joondalup)
Out - Thomas Bachillor (Floreat Athena), John Bosche (work), Jamie Herkes (long-term injury), Jake Lennox (work), Barry McLeod (retired), Steve Mills (retired), Richard Mills (retired), Gary Murray (retired), John Wyeth (long-term injury)
Dianella White Eagles have been their own worst enemies in recent years and seriously hampered any title aspirations that they may have held. One of the league's lowest scoring teams last year, Dianella have added to their attacking options with the capture of youngsters Dimce Tanevski and Robert Cibesku who should prove the perfect complement for Zelko Savic and Dragan Njegic. In pre-season the side have demonstrated their ability to make the most of their chances in front of goal, but at the same time their defensive frailties have been exposed which must be of particular concern for the coaching staff. If they can get it right at the back Dianella should be able to command a place in the top four.
In - Robert Cibesku (Floreat Athena), Djoko Cvetanoski (Stirling Suns), Miladin Guguroski (Stirling Suns), Dancho Jovanoski (Stirling Suns), Goran Spaseski (Stirling Suns), Dimce Tanevski (Stirling Suns)
Out - Taki Nicolaides (retired), Igor Novakovic (Bayswater City), Phil Russie (Kingsway Olympic), Davorin Svirac, Dragisa Volarevic
Queens Park are in for another good season despite the summer departure of key trio Ross Posthuma, Lynden Pywell and Jamie Bell. For his first season in charge Bob Braid has attracted to the club several bright young prospects including Paul Baczynski, Shirash Sakimura and Nick Paone. Seasoned campaigners Darren Williams and Grant Learmont will anchor the defence with rising stars Adrian McBride and Paul Dundo providing the ammunition when going forward. It will take time for their new recruits to find their feet at the club but once Queens Park hit their straps there'll be a very difficult team to stop.
In - Matt Aitken (Inglewood United), Paul Baczynski (Inglewood United), Leith Hinds (Morley Windmills), Nick Paone (Bayswater City), Shirash Sakimura (Leeming Strikers)
Out - Jamie Bell (Leeming Strikers), Roddy Cortes (Leeming Strikers), Jodie Henderson (Armadale), Pete Murphy (retired), Ross Posthuma (Canning City), Lynden Pywell (Bayswater City), Steve Tierney
The loss of Edin Mehic, Mohamed Komaderic, Eldin Abrisinovic and star midfielder Chris McCullogh left Ashfield with a gaping hole to fill in the lead-up to the new season. In lessening the impact the club has brought in experienced goalkeeper Adam Ashforth and hard-working defender Alex Novatis who'll provide the backbone of the side along with veteran David Mayers and skillful youngsters Ben Harris and Brad Pochroj. Last season coach Tom Kilkelly introduced a number of youngster to first team football and that experience will pay off in a big way for Ashfield this year. Fifth in 2003, there is little doubt that Ashfield will be there or thereabouts again in 2004.
In - Adam Ashforth (Bayswater City), Ben Charlton (England), Joe Kendall (Swan I.C.), Colin Lees (Balcatta), Peter Noiszewski (Sorrento), Alex Novatsis (Floreat Athena), Kristian Novatsis (Floreat Athena)
Out - Eldin Abrisinovic (study), Chris McCullogh (work), Mohamed Komaderic (Stirling Lions), Edin Mehic (study), John Monterosso (Stirling Lions)
Active in the off-season transfer market, Leeming Strikers are expected to be one of the big improvers. Mike Brazil has added depth to the club with several quality signings, none more so that the trio of Emlyn Whetnall, Michael Vaz and Greg Newcombe. Carlo Di Toro and Lucas Whitehouse were influential figures at the club last year and both will be out to continue their form into the new year. A knee injury to Michael Smerilli has left the Strikers somewhat stretched in the goalkeeping department, but then again the majority of clubs are faced with the same predicament at the moment. A young club with a fertile youth system and a very bright future, the Strikers are on track for an upper to mid-table finish.
In - Jamie Bell (Queens Park), Roddy Cortes (Queens Park), Lawrence Endersby (Gosnells City), Dean Goodfellow (Scotland), Leroy Goodwin (Cockburn City), Tony Lang (Gosnells City), Andrew McGettrick (Western Knights), Brian Murphy (Gosnells City), Greg Newcombe (Armadale), Billy Stirling (Canning City), Michael Vaz (Fremantle City), Emlyn Whetnall (Armadale)
Out - Brendon Barnes, Martin Donoghue, Ross Greer (retired), Alex Hornby (work reasons), Howard Nystadt, Shirash Sakimura (Queens Park), Michael Smerilli (long-term injury)
Basil Lenzo has begun the task of lifting Balcatta away from the foot of the table by coercing some familiar faces back to the club. Veterans Tony Paolino and Joe Cinquina have been signed to plug the holes in what was a very leaky defence last season. Vic Bogos will run the show from midfield as newcomers David Moschilla and Nick Cianci search for a path to goal. On the flip side of the coin the club will find the loss of Colin Lees and the versatile Scott Broadley difficult to get over. There's no doubt Balcatta have the ability to finish in the top half of the table, but their final placing will depend on how consistent they can be over thirty-weeks.
In - Nick Cianci (Hamersley Rovers), Joe Cinquina (Stirling Lions), Simon Madaschi (returns from injury), David Moschilla (Stirling Suns), Gus Pafumi (Stirling Lions), Tony Paolino (Stirling Lions), Mark Wilson (Sorrento)
Out - John Aitken, Scott Broadley (E.C.U. Joondalup), Gavin Falco-Brown, Colin Lees (Ashfield)
South West Phoenix showed great potential in their debut season but in subsequent years have failed to produce the consistency that took them to sixth in 2001. But on the eve of the new season the club find themselves in a perfect position to rectify that. Captain Greg Hayes and Steve Suttie have been key players since Phoenix' debut season and will continue to be along with striker David Rodgers whose pre-season was spectacular. After a year away Trent Hathway has returned while their depth has been further expanded by several youth players, including Shane Russell, pushing for a place in the senior list. Coach Jimmy Mayers has every reason to be optimistic about his sides chances and, with a good start, Phoenix can finish mid-table or higher.
In - Andy Cowley, Craig Murray, Trent Hathway
Out - James Anderson (Perth S.C.)
To say Kingsway Olympic have experienced significant change over the summer would be an understatement. They've lost a sizable number of first team players from last year including Andy Brown, Alan Henderson, Bryan Hedges, John Higgins, Louis Elliott and goalkeeper Kalon Tenakov. To offset this Sean Lynch has signed Phil Russie and Nigel Comito who loom as key players along with Scott Evans, Jason Stern and Sota Iwasaki. It's going to take Olympic time to find the right combination and for that reason alone they should be content with a mid-table finish. But the foundations will have been laid for a proper push at the title in 2005.
In - Ian Bunton (E.C.U. Joondalup), Nikolas Christos (Floreat Athena), Nigel Comito (Morley Windmills), John Doherty, Andy Evans (Sorrento), Shane Fitzpatrick (Bassendean Caledonian), Phil Russie (Dianella White Eagles), Chris Tinker (England)
Out - Ben Adams (Sorrento), Andy Brown (E.C.U. Joondalup), Louis Elliott (work reasons), Alan Henderson (E.C.U. Joondalup), Bryan Hedges (Inglewood United), John Higgins (E.C.U. Joondalup), Scott McLeod, Mark Purcell (work reasons), Hill Regan (work reasons), Kalon Tenakov (work reasons)
The appointment of Frank Longstaff has brought about positive change at Canning City. A former State junior coach, Longstaff has injected some much needed experience to the Canning line-up with the addition of Ross Posthuma, Steve Cole and Irish import Brian O'Regan. Goalkeeper Robbie Meyer is set for a big year following excellent pre-season form and will play a vital role in the success of Canning's season along with hard-working youngsters Paul Oliver and Paul Van Dongen. With several youth team players on the fringe of first team selection the club have great potential to lay the foundations for future success.
In - Steven Cole (Kwinana United), Jeremy Herbert (Leeming Strikers), Alex MacLean (Queens Park), Nick MacLean (Armadale), David Mahon (Swan I.C.), Nigel Mann (Kwinana United), Brian O'Regan (Ireland), Ross Posthuma (Queens Park), Adel Samani (Swan I.C.), Alex Seed (Kwinana United)
Out - Brad Davies, Daniel Laing, Shane Laing, Michael Laughlin, John Rimmington, Bill Stirling (Leeming Strikers)
By their own admission, Morley Windmills are in for a tough year. No longer around for a variety of reasons are fifteen players that featured regularly last season including Nigel Comito, Marco Schiano, Gary James and Ken Dunne. Once the season commences Windmills are expected to have their depth severely put to the test as players fall victim to injury and suspension. Ray Rose and John Pfaff, both of whom are back from long-term injury, will link up with Simon Messenger, Rydeen Botha, Damien Fezcur and goalkeeper Matt Darling to form the teams backbone. Although James Herbert's players are confident in their abilities it is difficult to see Windmills finishing too far from the foot of the table.
In - Ray Rose (returns from injury), James Madden (North Perth United), Ryan Martins (North Perth United), John Pfaff (returns from injury)
Out - Ali Bektic (work reasons), Michael Campbell (retired), Drew Carruthers (work reasons), David Boffa, Leith Hinds (Queens Park), Nigel Comito (Kingsway Olympic), Sam Danesh (work reasons), Ken Dunne (work reasons), Ben Hedley (work reasons), Gary James (retired), Chris Kahil (work reasons), Colm Kavanagh (retired), Zoran Petreski (Stirling Suns), Marco Schisano (retired), Kenny Smith, Darren Thompson, Steve Waycott (long-term injury)
It's been a summer of upheaval for Stirling Suns who head into 2004 with a much-changed line-up. In the past few months their senior list has been considerably shortened with Dimce Tanevski, Dancho Jovanoski, Miladin Guguroski, Djoko Cvetanoski, Goran Spaseski and David Moschilla all lured to neighbouring clubs and Zoran Talimdioski announcing his retirement. This has left the club short not only on numbers but also experience and that lack of depth is going to be of major concern over a seven-month campaign. Alex Jankulovski found the net with regularity last year and is confident of continuing that form into the new season, while in 21-year old Jason Razmoski the Suns side have a very safe pair of hands. With a young and inexperienced squad at this level the Suns face a difficult winter in which they're sure to pull off a few surprises.
In - Jamie Naumovski (Bayswater City), Sveto Njirich, Zoran Petreski (Morley Windmills)
Out - Gareth Banfield, Djoko Cvetanoski (Dianella White Eagles), Miladin Guguroski (Dianella White Eagles), Dancho Jovanoski (Dianella White Eagles), David Moschilla (Balcatta), Orkun Osturk, Bradley Panov, Goran Spaseski (Dianella White Eagles), Ken Stankoski, Dimce Tanevski (Dianella White Eagles), Zoran Talimdioski (retired)
Things are going to get worse for Gosnells City before they start to turn around. A baptism of fire awaits Alex Grindley and the new coaching team whose goal it is to re-establish Gosnells as competitive force in the local game. A difficult task has been made all the more harder by a massive loss of players from the club at all levels. On his return to Gosnells Jason Jones will be at the heart of a defence that rained goals last year, while in attack the side will rely on Mark Ronald for his creativity and Russell McAinsh. Lacking numbers, depth and experience, Gosnells will struggle this season and should look upon anything resembling a mid-table finish as a bonus.
In - Manny DeBrito (back from long-term injury), Drew Grimshaw, Ryan Hall, Jason Jones, Matthew Lee, Martin O'Reilly (Scotland), Grant Williamson
Out - Eldon Abrahams (retired), Robbie Anderson (Swan I.C.), Scott Cooper (Armadale), Mark Edwards (long-term injury), Simon El Chami (Cockburn City), Lawrence Endersley (Leeming Strikers), Tony Hall (long-term injury), Graham Herd (Cockburn City), Gary Hunt (retired), Craig Innes (Scotland), Stuart Jones (retired), Tony Lang (Leeming Strikers), Lee McEvoy (injury), Sam Maguire (Swan I.C.), Brian Murphy (Leeming Strikers), Adrian Ong (Singapore), Franky Ternel (Stirling Suns)
Rockingham City have never fully recovered from their unexpected, one-season top flight stay of 2000 since when they've experienced a steady flow of players away from the club. Second-last in 2003, the club have had their numbers further depleted by the summer loss of half of their first eleven - amongst them Alex Smith, Gary Cowan and goalkeeper James Mills - in addition to a handful of youth team players. Unable to secure any notable signings, coach Ron Smith has little option but to work with those talents currently at his disposal and promote from within the clubs limited stocks. The experience of Glen Hallums, Jon Crawford and Luke Rennie will be drawn upon heavily to help see the club through what is sure to be a very difficult campaign.
In - Chris Brown (returns from injury)
Out - Neil Connor (Mandurah City), Shane Connor (Mandurah City), Gary Cowan (Scotland), Rob Crerar (Stirling Lions), Bryan Hastie, Lloyd Humphries (Cockburn City), Liam McCann (Melbourne), James Mills (Sydney), Alex Smith (Stirling Lions), Stephen Stewart (Armadale)
Final Table Prediction 1. Mandurah City 2. Armadale 3. Wanneroo City 4. Dianella White Eagles 5. Queens Park 6. Ashfield 7. Leeming Strikers 8. Balcatta 9. South West Phoenix 10. Kingsway Oympic 11. Canning City 12. Morley Windmills 13. Stirling Suns 14. Gosnells City 15. Rockingham City
Perth will once again be favourites to take out the Premier League title this season, even with the loss of a few players, Perth always have the appropriate back up to make sure that they are hard to beat. The Western Knights should once again challenge strongly, and with Geordie back in charge at his beloved Joondalup, expect them to finish near the top of the table. Coach Eddie Hodgkinson will expect his club Inglewood United do well this season, while Cockburn City should make up the top 5. Sorrento, Fremantle City, Swan IC and Floreat Athena all have strong enough squads to achieve a spot in the play-offs, but will still find the task difficult.
The Stirling Lions have improved their playing stocks this season and should have no problems avoiding the wooden spoon, which they received last season. First Division Champions, Bayswater City struggled in the night series, but showed glimpses that they will trouble some teams during the year.
It looks all doom and gloom for Bassendean Caledonian, who seem to be heading for the First Division next season. A poor night series campaign, where they failed to score a single goal shows that they do have serious problems up front. However Callies can surprise the pundits, like they did in the 2002 season, if they perform to their best anything can happen.
Final Table Prediction 1 Perth 2 Western Knights 3 ECU Joondalup 4 Inglewood United 5 Cockburn City 6 Sorrento 7 Fremantle City 8 Swan IC 9 Floreat Athena 10 Stirling Lions 11 Bayswater City 12 Bassendean Caledonian
SWC First Division
Mandurah City will be red hot favourites to take out the First Division crown this season, after narrowly missing out last year. The Peel club last won silverwear in 2000 when they won the WAASSA First Division title. Wanneroo City and Armadale look to be their main title rivals. Wanneroo have recruited well over the summer, with many players coming from Premier League clubs, including Scott Bullloch from ECU Joondalup. Coach Stuart Currie will be expecting big things from his players this season. Armadale will be going all out for promotion this season after just missing out over the past 2 years. The southern club have also signed promising players from the top flight, however talented forward Greg Newcombe's departure to the Leeming Strikers will be missed.
Expect Ashfield, Dianella White Eagles and Queens Park to finish in the upper half of the tables. With the Leeming Strikers, South West Phoenix and Balcatta to finish mid-table. The young Canning City team should improve on their performance last season, while Morley-Windmills, Kingsway Olympic and the Stirling Suns should all struggle after losing key players over the summer. The name Gosnells City hasn't been seen in professional soccer since 1992, after a couple of mergers, the old Southside United club will be hoping their former name will bring the glory back to the club, however anything more than a bottom 5 finish would be a success. Rockingham City will most likely finish rock bottom this year, poor performances in their pre-season games have showed little promise for the southern coastal club.
Final Table Prediction 1 Mandurah City 2 Wanneroo City 3 Armadale 4 Ashfield 5 Dianella White Eagles 6 Queens Park 7 Leeming Strikers 8 South West Phoenix 9 Balcatta 10 Canning City 11 Morley-Windmills 12 Gosnells City 13 Kingsway Olympic 14 Stirling Suns 15 Rockingham City
WAASSA Premier Division
Forrestfield United, who only just missed out on a spot in the SWC First Division this season, will try to prove that they should be playing professional soccer. The club have had impressive pre-season form, which included a narrow 5-4 loss to the strong SWC club, the Dianella White Eagles, and an easy 4-0 win over Bayswater City's reserves side. University of WA should be their strongest challenges, the students easily defeated SWC side Rockingham City in a 5-0 friendly in March, coach Kevin Burton will be going all out for the title this season. Hamersley Rovers will be up their once again, the club are aiming for a record fourth championship in a row. Former Perth Glory assistant coach Mickey Brennan remains at the helm, and as always he gets the most out of his players. Shamrock Rovers, who narrowly lost to SWC club Queens Park in a pre-season friendly should make the top 4, with Fremantle United close behind them.
Newly promoted club, the Stirling Panthers will be happy with a mid-table place, with CN Canning International and Spearwood Dalmatinac joining them. The strugglers are expected to come from Murdoch University, who only just avoided relegation last season, and Perth Azzurri. Kwinana United have lost Steven Cole, Nigel Mann and Alex Seed to Canning City, while last season's First Division runner-up Colo Colo look likely to making a quick return to the league they just left.
Final Table Prediction 1 Forrestfield United 2 University of WA 3 Hamersley Rovers 4 Shamrock Rovers 5 Fremantle United 6 Stirling Panthers 7 CN Canning International 8 Spearwood Dalmatinac 9 Murdoch University 10 Perth Azzurri 11 Kwinana United 12 Colo Colo
WAASSA First Division
Subiaco United and North Perth United look to be the most equipped for promotion this season, with strong challenges coming from the Lynwood Colts and WA Maccabi. Expect better things from Belmont Villa this year, while former Soccer West Coast club, Balga, will be hoping for a much better year after their poor season in 2003 when they got relegated from the WAASSA Premier Division.
South Perth United, Geraldton La Fiamma, Ballajura and Suburbs United should be all good enough to avoid relegation. Kingsley makes a return to the WAASSA First Division after a long absence, but they may find the league too strong for them. The Morley-Windmills Amateurs will find it very difficult this season, with a number of players moving to their Saturday SWC team.
Final Table Prediction 1 Subiaco United 2 North Perth United 3 Lynwood Colts 4 WA Maccabi 5 Belmont Villa 6 Balga 7 South Perth United 8 Geraldton La Fiamma 9 Ballajura 10 Suburbs United 11 Kingsley 12 Morley-Windmills Amateurs
Back to the www.footballwa.net Past Seasons Index
This page was last updated on the 24th February 2006