The forty-seventh season of semi-professional football in Western Australia kicked off last weekend with the opening round of home-and-away fixtures. Perth S.C. are widely tipped to add the 2007 Premier League title to the trophy cabinet at Dorrien Gardens, but to do so they'll have to fend off the challenges of Cockburn City, Floreat Athena, Stirling Lions and Western Knights amongst others. It may be early days but there's plenty of interest at the other end of the table as well with a handful of clubs expected to be involved in a dogfight to avoid relegation. This week Brett Klucznik takes a close look at each of the twelve clubs, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and makes a few predictions as to how the 2007 Premier League season will play out ...
No one at PERTH S.C. was happy with the seventh placing achieved last year and long-serving coach Graham Normanton has vowed that disappointment will not be repeated. A strong recruitment drive has swelled the ranks at Dorrien Gardens with the arrival of some of the state's best talent, players of the calibre of Andreas Oliveira, Antonio Naglieri and Todd Howarth. They compliment the existing core group of Michael Icanovski, Trent Kay, Matt Danskin, Scott Bulloch, Gary Faria and Barry Wood who all worked tirelessly for little reward in 2006. Boasting a top-notch squad and buoyed by a triumphant Night Series campaign it's going to take one almighty effort to halt the Perth juggernaut once it cranks into top gear, so it's no surprise they've been installed a pre-season favourites..
In – Nikita Rukavytsya (Australian Institute of Sport), Michael Ord (Sorrento), Todd Howarth (Chalfont St Peter, England), Antonio Naglieri (South Melbourne), Andreas Oliveira (South Melbourne), Costa Socratous (Floreat Athena), Simon Trinca (Brisbane City)
Out – Jeff Bright (Mandurah City), Aaron Cole (Swan I.C.), Ahmed Hafez (Wanneroo City), Peter Lord, David Onoforo, Gianni Papalia (Bayswater City), Andy Pomfret (Fremantle Spirit), Jason Pottier (Fremantle Spirit)
There aren't a great deal many wrinkles in the fabric of COCKBURN CITY that need ironing out. The nucleus of the side remains much the same as it has for the past few years and the stability that brings is sure to keep Cockburn near the top of the table. Defensively they are anchored by Dino Pacella who has in front of him a young, robust backline that includes State Youth team representatives Jason Godfrey and Shane Nunes. The drive across the middle of the park comes from Johnny Mirco, Anthony Perriera and 21-year old Jason Dos Santos, while up front they have the familiar pairing of Michael Mirco and Dean Wallace. The player quality and depth available to Scott Miller should put Cockburn up there with Perth S.C. and Stirling Lions.
In – Mario De Felice (long-term injury), Liam Lilly (long-term injury), Louis Lopresti (Swan I.C.), Paul Natale (Bayswater City), Dino Pacella, Robert Pedri, Gary Smith (England), Scott Miller (coach)
Out – Alan Dunlop (long-term injury), Kenny Ftynohiannis (Ashfield), Ivan Gavranic (Western Knights), Andrew Keary (Rockingham City), Richard Lacey (Armadale), Tom Langley, Jack McCabe (Rockingham City), Dusan Macura (Armadale), Paul Oliver (Canning City)
The hard work of the past few years has come to fruition for STIRLING LIONS who are now firmly entrenched as one of the top flights' major players. Blend a strong youth policy, wise recruitment and burning desire for success and the end result is a squad of great depth and potential. Phil Straker, Darko Ilmanoski and Kevin Henderson underpin what is a very difficult defence to crack. Keith Brown, David Micevski, Phil Arnold and 16-year old sensation Ludovic Boi run the show across the centre with English import David Dugdale leading the way in attack. An early exit from the Night Series won't phase Stirling who, come years' end, will be fighting it out with Perth S.C. and Cockburn City for top honours.
In – Chris Henderson, Tom Jones (E.C.U. Joondalup), Dale McCulloch (E.C.U. Joondalup), Daniel Micevski (Bayswater City), Steve Porter (England), Okwy Diamondstar (Floreat Athena)
Out – Tony Alevoski (Balcatta), Kevin Carmona (Bayswater City), Mark Donnelly (Wanneroo City), Peter Dunn, Ryan Jeans (retired), Peter Koidis (Balcatta), Rob Miller (Hitchin Town, England), Luke Pavlos (Balcatta), Jordan Rhodes (Mandurah City), Mark Walsh (Morley Windmills), Craig Wells (Wanneroo City)
The resurrection of FLOREAT ATHENA continues to gather momentum. But while Michael Roki has assembled a very fine squad for the new season one gets the feeling they are still a little way from mounting a serious challenge for the title. Former national league player Ante Kovacevic, rising star John Migas and shot-stopper Vas Vujacic form an imposing defensive unit that links well with newcomers Miki Vujacic and James Isaia. Josip Magdic, Bajo Savic and Branimir Mikulic will cause opposition midfields plenty of headaches while Stefan Smiljanic and Boima Karpeh occupy the goalscoring positions. Floreat showed last year that they are more than capable of matching it with the league's best and, should they remain focused and largely injury-free, they can once again be amongst the leading pack.
In – Craig Howard (E.C.U. Joondalup), James Isaia (Armadale), Ante Kovacevic (Perth Glory), Josip Magdic (Perth Glory), Chris Mooney (North Shore, New Zealand), Jovo Pavlovic (Bayswater City), Jarrod Smith (Bayswater City), Miki Vujacic (Swan I.C.)
Out – Andrew Afkos (Bayswater City), Chris Beech (Bayswater City), Okwy Diamondstar (Stirling Lions), Costa Socratous (Perth S.C.), Craig Simpson (Freed-Hardeman University, USA), Adrian Sutton (Bayswater City), Paul Vlachou, Chris Wylie (Bethel College, USA)
What better way would there be to commemorate Ronnie Campbell's tenth anniversary with WESTERN KNIGHTS that to win the Premier League title? Off-season departures have been kept to a minimum while some select recruitment has increased the coach's options. With David Annall, Ivan Zuvela and Jon Higgins partnering goalkeeper Tommi Tomich you can be assured the Knights defences won't be breached too many times. Paul Cooke, Cormac Dawson and Andrija Jukic provide the drive going forward with Stuart Montgomery leading the attack. Unfortunately, the mid-season departure of Tomich for Perth Glory is going to hurt their title hopes along with the absence of a quality finisher to partner Montgomery. That said, the Knights are still a top five prospect
In – Scott Bushby (E.C.U. Joondalup), Scott Campbell (Swan I.C.), Ivan Gavranic (Cockburn City), Andrija Jukic (NK Posusje, Croatia), Jon Mathers (Swan I.C.), Ago Mujic (Bosnia)
Out – Evan Wallace (retired)
E.C.U. JOONDALUP overcame an indifferent start last season to climb to sixth place and that upward trajectory is likely to continue into 2007. Qualification for the Night Series final is a only sign of what they can achieve when everyone pulls in the same direction. Jamie Kuzmanovich, Scott Blackmore, Anthony Jones, Martin Ashworth, Mark Lee, Garin Collins and Ian McMurray provide the foundations of a strong line-up to which veteran goalkeeper Andy Petterson and attack-focused pair Marc Anthony and Craig Young have been added. The northern suburbs outfit have the ability to be one of the competitions' leaders, however, first they need to become more disciplined and perform with greater inconsistency. In the meantime, Joondalup will have to be content with a spot somewhere in the middle of the table.
In – David Abel (Billingham Town, England), Marc Anthony (Scotland), Steven Beasley, Darren Broxton (Inglewood United), Matt Donlevy (Wanneroo City), Brynn Hindley, Andy Petterson, Willie McNally (coach), David Tough (Gala Fairydean, Scotland), Simon Ward, Craig Young (Spartans, England)
Out –Scott Bushby (Western Knights), Sam Doyle (Sorrento), Stuart Hartmann (Wanneroo City), Daniel Hendley (Wanneroo City), Corey Herrington (Dianella White Eagles), Craig Howard (Floreat Athena), Tom Jones (Stirling Lions), William Kirkpatrick (Morley Windmills), Dale McCulloch (Stirling Lions), Ryan Newhill (Sorrento), Peter Noiszewski (Morley Windmills), Leon Russell (retired), Jason Trpcevski (Sorrento), Simon Woodward (Wanneroo City)
Steve Neville has the difficult task of leading a radically different SORRENTO into the new season. In the six months since the Gulls lifted the Premier League trophy over half of their championship winning side have moved on. As the northern suburbs outfit embark on a period of consolidation and re-building they'll again lean heavily on a successful youth system that has served them well for many years. Neil Young, last seasons' Goalkeeper of the Year, anchors an imposing defence that features seasoned campaigners Richard Watson, Steve McDonald and English import Karl Poore. And the Gulls faithful will have their fingers crossed Glen Thomas, Brodie Martin, James Morgan and Todd Harnwell are in peak creative form from day one. Not likely to the vying for the title and safe from relegation, Sorrento will have little to play for as the season comes to a close.
In – David Ashworth (Artheron, England), Stuart Banks, Sam Doyle (E.C.U. Joondalup), Guy McDonald (Wanneroo City), Steve McDonald (Sengkang Punggol, Singapore), Chris Marsh (Northampton Town, England), Ryan Newhill, Karl Poore (Dorchester Town,England), Danny Taylor (Wanneroo City), Jason Trpcevski (E.C.U. Joondalup), Steven Worthy (Inglewood United)
Out – Andrew Bowyer (long-term injury), Sean Bowyer (Morley Windmills), Ben Davies-Smith (Morley Windmills), Brad Hassell (Morley Windmills), Simon Harland (England), Farrell Hedges (Morley Windmills), Danny Hill (retired), Ozren Kotur, Liam McCallum, Scott Miller (Cockburn City), Shaun Mooney, Michael Ord (Perth S.C.), Chris Ramsey (Morley Windmills)
On paper INGLEWOOD UNITED have one of the most talented squads in the competition, however, that does not necessarily translate into on-field success as evidenced by last years ninth placing. In his first coaching appointment Bobby Despotovski has retained the bulk of last seasons' squad to which a few select recruits and a handful of youngsters from within the ranks have been added. Their greatest asset is the stability brought on by a core group of players and just to mention of Oliver Taseski, Shane Pryce, Daniel Stoitis, Danny Kovacevic, Shaun Kilkelly, Dean Apelgren, Jason Colli, Louis Parkinson and Greg Sharland is enough to send shivers through opposing camps. Their pre-season may have been far from impressive, and some are already questioning where their season is heading, but rest assured Inglewood will improve on their poorest finish in two decades.
In – Rodrigo Aguirre, Bobby Despotovski (coach), Danny Milosevic (New Zealand Knights), Renato Rechichi (Bayswater City)
Out –Darren Broxton (E.C.U. Joondalup), Ryan Frisina (Bayswater City), Steven Worthy (Sorrento)
There's an extra spring in the step of those at ARMADALE following the appointment of Billy Russell and Tom Kilkelly. Last season the Reds faithful were given scant reason to celebrate as their team chalked up just three wins before being spared relegation by a superior goal difference over Bayswater City. Summer signings Dusan Macura, Rob Crerar and Cyril Sharrock add experience to a backline that already features Darryl Platten and Craig Anderson. On their day Jason Goodwin and Scott Paterson are amongst the best midfielders on the local scene while the attacking instincts of Ben Howe and Ryan Pearson are bound to produce goals. Armadale are a much stronger proposition this time around and a mid-table placing is theirs if they want it.
In – Adam Galvin (Camberley Town, England), Rob Crerar (Rockingham City), Lee Hallums (long-term injury), Richard Lacey (Cockburn City), Dusan Macura (Cockburn City), Billy Russell (coach), Cyril Sharrock (Rockingham City)
Out –Kevin Bissett, John Dixon, James Hesketh (Mandurah City), James Isaia (Floreat Athena), Clark Killoh, Gary Murdoch (Morley Windmills), Nick Stone
The loss of some key players and a poor pre-season has set the scene for some trying times at SWAN I.C. The black and whites stumbled their way through the second half of 2006 when a Cup final appearance was their only saving grace. Some very talented players reside in the Swan Valley with Aaron Cole, Paul Baczynski, Rory Mouttet, Rob Monterosso, Anthony McStea, Damien Catalano and David Foster instantly springing to mind. But a home record they'd much rather forget and an overall lack of consistency time and time again prevent them from being truly competitive. You can't help but wonder what it's going to take for Swan to one day fulfil their potential and actually challenge for regular season honours.
In – Dom Ando (long-term injury), Aaron Cole (Perth S.C.), Carlos Echevierra, Adrian Zonato (Balcatta)
Out –Gary Andrews (Wanneroo City), Michael Bushby (Forrestfiled United), Scott Campbell (Western Knights), Tony Cumace (Balcatta), Louis Lopresti (Cockburn City), Jon Mathers (Western Knights), Kevin Smith (Dianella White Eagles), Miki Vujacic (Floreat Athena)
The good folk at FREMANTLE SPIRIT are full of optimism about the coming winter but the fact is they failed to excite in pre-season and look set for a difficult return to top flight football. Their main target is of survival and in setting out to achieve this Marc Wingell has retained the bulk of last seasons' championship winning squad. The contributions of Steve Grant, Alex Christie, Simon Elton-Bott, Dale Wingell, Jason Barerra and David Rodgers will be invaluable, while new recruits Andy Pomfret and Ray Rose have key roles to play as the club attempt to re-establish themselves. The fact so few of Fremantle's number have any significant experience at his level is of concern and how many points they pick up in the opening rounds could well determine their fate.
In – David Araya (Colo Colo), Luke Doyle (Canning City), Robbie Figg (Gosnells City), Oliver Gilford (England), Cisco Jorqueira (Colo Colo), Adrian McBride (Morley Windmills), Andy Pomfret (Perth S.C.), Jason Pottier (Perth S.C.), Ray Rose (Morley Windmills)
Out –Allan Pottier (retired), Craig Surtees (retired), Peter Vukmirovic (Wanneroo City)
WANNEROO CITY struggled to keep pace for much of last season and the evidence points to his again being the case in 2007. Serious doubt remain as to whether the problems of last year - a leaky defence, a lack of goals and a shocking home record - were sufficiently addressed over the summer. Former Scottish youth international Kevin Miller marshals a new-look defence which includes Mark Donnelly, Stuart Hartmann and Demir Arslanoski. Going the other way, Wanneroo will look to the skills and presence of Derek Cooke, Morgan Dendle, Ahmed Hafez, David Houston and Brad McDonald in their quest for goals. Light on experience and lacking influential players in some key positions, it really is going to be a tough year for the northern suburbs outfit.
In – Gary Andrews (Swan I.C.), Gareth Davies, Ryan Dodsworth, Mark Donnelly (Stirling Lions), Danny Evans (Morley Windmills), Ahmed Hafez (Perth S.C.), Carl Harrison, Stuart Hartmann (E.C.U. Joondalup), Daniel Hendley (E.C.U. Joondalup), Luke Hudston, Graham Wells (England), Simon Woodward (E.C.U. Joondalup), Peter Vukmirovic (Fremantle Spirit), Craig Wells (Stirling Lions)
Out –Dean Adamson (England), Craig Bowman (long-term injury), Matt Donlevy (E.C.U. Joondalup), Jake Harman, Adam Hayton (Ashfield), Will Hodges (England), Guy McDonald (Sorrento), Greg Schofield (England), Danny Taylor (Sorrento), Ryan Thomasz (Dianella White Eagles)
Final Table Prediction 1 Perth S.C. 2 Cockburn City 3 Stirling Lions 4 Floreat Athena 5 Western Knights 6 ECU Joondalup 7 Sorrento 8 Inglewood United 9 Armadale 10 Swan IC 11 Fremantle Spirit 12 Wanneroo City
Promotion and relegation between the Saturday Premier League and First Division remains a one-up one-down policy as per last year. The First Division playing field looks remarkably level on the eve of the new season with any one half a dozen teams capable of claiming top honours, and the battle to avoid the drop is shaping up to be just as tight ...
It seems that every man and his dog are putting their money on MANDURAH CITY to win this season’s First Division championship. The club from Peelwood Parade has enlisted Stuart Currie as coach and he’s wasted no time strengthening the senior list in preparation for the coming winter. On paper they have the arguably competition’s best squad and the likes of Shane Crampton, Christian Paschkewitz, Jeff Bright, Jordan Rhodes and Mike Green are sure to be amongst the headlines this season. Truth be told Mandurah are not infallible, however, it’s going to take an almighty effort to prevent them from gaining promotion.
In – Jeff Bright (Perth S.C.), Sam Carey, Shane Crampton, Stuart Currie (coach), Stuart Francis, Scott Halpin, James Hesketh (Armadale), Fraser Marr (Rockingham City), Jordan Rhodes (Stirling Lions), Mikel Sesma
Out – Gary Collins (retired), Jack Kearns (work commitments), Daniel Kilka (retired), Matt O'Brien (retired), Scott Platt, Steven Rhodes (work commitments), John Tranfield (work commitments)
ASHFIELD’s Night Series success served only to stress that they'll be major player again this season. The much underrated club stormed their way to second last year courtesy of a watertight defence, a free-scoring attack and, perhaps most importantly, a tight-knit squad which clearly enjoys playing together. Michael Filippou and Mohammad Komaderic are being tipped to score a bagful of goals between them thanks largely to the superb supply of Andy O'Neill, Igor Novakovic, Julian Piromalli and Daniel Webb. Salv Todaro's side have all the hallmarks of a team with top flight ambitions, so when a whole new level of confidence and desire to succeed is mixed in you begin to understand why they are going to be one of the teams to beat.
In – Atekhis Elhossain (Forrestfield United), Kenny Ftynohiannis (Cockburn City), David Gordon (Morley Windmills), Adam Hayton (Wanneroo City), Jeff Harris, Ozren Kotur (Sorrento), Jamie Kumkar, Oliver Langdale (Bayswater City), Dusan Martinovic (Morley Windmills), Kenan Suhopolja (BB United)
Out – Francis Allen (work commitments), Bradlee McCagh, Adam Purcell (long-term injury)
The winds of change have finally swept through MORLEY WINDMILLS where trophy success is but a distant memory. New coach Brad Hassell has brought with him a level of professionalism not seen at the club in years, and through astute recruitment has provided Morley with the sort of depth they’ve desperately lacked in recent times. Scott McIlroy and Damien Todorovic are expected to once again feature prominently throughout the winter months along with new recruits Joe Woodin, Mark Walsh and Andy Bowyer. If the pieces all fall into place Morley can go all the way this year, however, the more realistic target would be a top five placing.
In – Sean Bowyer (Sorrento), Matt Carruthers, Ben Davies-Smith (Sorrento), Farrell Hedges (Sorrento), William Kirkpatrick (E.C.U. Joondalup), Craig Lewis (Olympic Kingsway), Alan Nanini (Olympic Kingsway), Peter Noiszewski (E.C.U. Joondalup), Chris Ramsey (Sorrento), Willie Robb, Mark Walsh (Stirling Lions), Joe Woodin (Olympic Kingsway), Alan Young, Gary Murdoch (Armadale), Brad Hassell (coach)
Out – Matt Darling, Danny Evans (Wanneroo City), David Gordon (Ashfield), Amare Hailu (Bayswater City), Adrian McBride (Fremantle Spirit), Dusan Martinovic (Ashfield), Simon Messenger (work commitments), Brad Pochroj, Eric Ravanal, Ray Rose (Fremantle Spirit), Leighton Smith
Make no mistake about it - BALCATTA are very much back in business. Their title aspirations may have been gatecrashed by a crippling injury toll last year, however, even when not at full strength they still claimed fourth place. Balcatta head into the new season with much the same squad albeit with greater depth brought on by some smart additions and promotion from within the ranks. Midfield dynamo Rob Giorgi and young gun Christian DeBarro will no doubt feature prominently alongside seasoned campaigners such as Tony Cumace, David Moschilla, Toby Wright and John Nicoloau. Balcatta's prospects are very good this year and anything outside the top four shouldn't even be contemplated.
In – Tony Alevoski (Stirling Lions), Sean Bowyer, Tony Cumace (Swan I.C.), Jason Healy, Mark Humphries, Peter Koidis (Stirling Lions), Luke Pavlos (Stirling Lions), Ben Rogers (Bayswater City), Toby Wright
Out – Perry Ielati, Adam Raines (long-term injury), Adrian Zonato (Swan I.C.)
The reformation of BAYSWATER CITY has begun. Last year was a complete disaster for the club and to steady the ship they've brought on board Gerry Wardle and Willie Herd who have already restored team morale, improved overall fitness levels, and made some important signings. Sal Marrapodi will be the player to watch in 2007 along with fellow loyal servants Jason Lawton and Damir Kuduzovic, and newcomers Adrian Sutton and Gianni Papalia. Depth is going to be a problem this season and while Bayswater won't bounce straight back into the top flight the experiences of the next six months will position them well for the future.
In – Andrew Afkos (Floreat Athena), Chris Beech (Floreat Athena), Cody Bradshaw, Kevin Carmona (Stirling Lions), Darius Dweh, Ryan Frisina (Inglewood United), Vince Grooby, Amare Hailu (Morley Windmills), Michael Kunman, Gianni Papalia (Perth S.C.), Blaz Radovanovic (Dianella White Eagles), Adrian Sutton (Floreat Athena), Gerry Wardle (coach)
Out – Leo Bozic, Oliver Langdale (Ashfield), Daniel Micevski (Stirling Lions), Liam Moolla, Paul Natale (Cockburn City), Jovo Pavlovic (Floreat Athena), Ben Rogers (Balcatta), Renato Rechichi (Inglewood United), Michael Simmonds, Jarrod Smith (Floreat Athena)
The season could go either way for CANNING CITY. Each year starts out full of hope and optimism at Willetton Sportsman Club but invariably ends with potential unfilfilled. There's no questioning the quality of Frank Longstaff's squad as any coach at this level would enjoy the luxury of putting Garth Lecky, Simon Versaico, Paul Van Dongen, Ross Posthuma and Marc Sim on the park. What trips them up is consistency, or a lack there of, and when Canning start replicating their home form on away grounds they are going to cause a lot of teams some serious headaches. But until that happens the best Canning can wish for is another mid-table placing.
In – Duncan Hind (Lynwood Colts), Joe Ives, Michael Klaver (Lynwood Colts), David Mickler, Kyle Mitsopoulus (Queens Park), Greg Newcombe, Paul Oliver (Cockburn City), Emlyn Whetnall
Out – Daniel Butler, Luke Doyle (Fremantle Spirit), Patrick Fitzgerald, Adam Horsley (England), Jeevan Krishnan, Daniel Laing, Shane Laing (Queens Park), Dave Mahon, Nigel Mann, Cornelius Nurimba, Alex Packer
A club with a traditionally strong youth policy, FORRESTFIELD UNITED are on the verge of reaping some great rewards. They’ve spent two years becoming re-acquainted with semi-professional life and over the next few seasons will start showing what they are capable of. John Hunter has shown total faith in the club’s youth by promoting the likes of Trent Wood and Jordan Hart, amongst others, whose game will be taken to the next level playing alongside the seasoned heads of Craig Ruthven, Carlo Di Toro, Jason Kindon, Phil Bell and Roger Miron. True, they do lack experience in some key positions, but right now it’s all about building for a successful future and what Forrestfield learn in 2007 will serve them well going forward.
In – Michael Bushby (Swan I.C.), Carlo Di Toro, John Hunter (coach), Andy McGettrick (Gosnells City), Ashley Otte, Matt Wood
Out – John Carling (work committments), Atekhis Elhossain (Ashfield), Kayne Gordon-Davidson, Jon Greenwood (Dianella White Eagles), Dennis Lee, Justin Mansfield (work commitments), Peter Raynor, Nathan Watkins
Pre-season indications point to a successful year for DIANELLA WHITE EAGLES, however, the big question is whether they’ve learnt from the lessons of the past. The First Division’s worst defensive record and some appalling home form restricted them in 2006 to eight place. Veteran coach Jimmy Pearson has tinkered a little with his squad and important roles await Aaron Moschopoulos, Goran Radinovic and Jeremie Jeanne along with newcomers Kevin Smith and Jon Greenwood. Although Dianella do play some very good football it’s difficult to see them being part of the title race, and yet they have enough talent on board to steer well clear of the drop zone.
In – Todd Bushby, Scott Cooper, Jon Greenwood (Forrestfield United), Corey Herrington (E.C.U. Joondalup), Oliver Jeanne, Michael Mayne (Waikato, New Zealand), Jimmy Pearson (coach), Kevin Smith (Swan I.C.), Ryan Thomasz (Wanneroo City)
Out – Keegan Ashley (retired), Slobodan Blagojevic (long-term injury), Dejan Djukanovic, Josh Konard (long-term injury), Aleks Lackovic (retired), David Mrdja (long-term injury), Petar Mrdja, Blaz Radovanovic (Bayswater City), Phil Russie
SOUTH WEST PHOENIX are playing for their semi-professional life. Last season was nothing short of a disaster for the Bunbury-based outfit who managed just three wins and were saved from relegation by the grace of Football West. Micky Cairns knows how to get the best out of players and with him back in charge expect to see a far better organised and more cohesive side. Irish import Gareth Johnson adds experience in the defensive half of the park, captain Greg Hayes and 18-year old Patrick Quinn pull the strings in the centre with the task of putting away the goals falling to Steve Suttie and veteran Gary Mayers. Phoenix will cause a good number of upsets this season and a continuing promotion of youth should ensure their longevity.
In – Kris Braekmans, Laurence Endersby, Gareth Johnson, Mickie Cairns (coach), Damien Trim, James Turbitt
Out – James Bergin, Drasko Jankovic, Sean O'Gorman
QUEENS PARK faces a baptism of fire on their return to Saturday football. A year in the amateurs appears to have done the tight knit club a world of good and Tony Campbell's young side are aiming to carry their fine late season form over into 2007. English import Brian Kinson, Aaron Oxenham and Ian McKean present an imposing defensive wall while going the other way it's Toby Obinham, Ricky Simpson and Shane Laing who provide the drive. Although comparatively inexperienced, the understanding and camaraderie forged over the past three seasons' should see Queens Park stay clear of the drop zone.
In – Adam Bremner (Gosnells City), Brian Kinson (Urmiston, England), Shane Laing (Canning City), Dwayne Martins
Out – Ben Anderson, Tony Campbell (retired), Josh Italiano, Kyle Mitsopoulus (Canning City), Tony Rains (England), Ciaran Summerton, Brent Thomas, Jarred Thraves
The daunting task of guiding ROCKINGHAM CITY away from the foot of the table has been taken up by Mike Brazil. 2006 was blighted by a nine game win-less run and a truly appalling home record, and their problems have only been compounded by the departure of several influential players over the summer months. Paul Colkin will once again don the captain’s armband and how well he, Michael Vaz, Craig Olenjik, Andrew Keary and Steve Cramphorn perform will have a large bearing on their season. It’s backs to the wall time for Rockingham and come September don’t be surprised if they’re amongst those fighting relegation.
In – Mike Brazil (coach), Glenn Hallums (long-term injury), Greg Hyde, Andrew Keary (Cockburn City), Jack McCabe (Cockburn City), Michael Vaz (long-term injury)
Out – Rob Crerar (Armadale), Terry Flynn, Fraser Marr (Mandurah City), Cyril Sharrock (Armadale)m Alex Smith, Danny Turner (England)
It really is going to be a very long season for those at GOSNELLS CITY. The club's main problem of recent times has been a lack of goals and until Gosnells unearth someone who contribute twelve plus goals in a season they will remain locked near the foot of the table. Gosnells go into 2007 with a young squad which will look to captain Aaron Nadin, Mark Edwards, Brian Cairney and player-coach Alex Grindley for leadership when the chips are down. Points are never easy to come by when you play Gosnells, however, in order to avoid relegation this year they will need all their resources.
In – Laurence Bruce, Edna Condron, Sam Maguire, Rob Thornton (Scotland), Jade Thorpe
Out – Andy McGettrick (Forrestfield United), Robbie Figg (Fremantle Spirit), Adam Bremner (Queens Park), Jayson Mehnert, Rob Thorogood (work committments)
Final Table Prediction 1 Mandurah City 2 Ashfield 3 Morley-Windmills 4 Balcatta 5 Bayswater City 6 Canning City 7 Forrestfield United 8 Dianella White Eagles 9 South West Phoenix 10 Queens Park 11 Rockingham City 12 Gosnells City
Final Table Prediction 1 Perth 2 Floreat Athena 3 Western Knights 4 Stirling Lions 5 Sorrento 6 ECU Joondalup 7 Cockburn City 8 Inglewood United 9 Swan IC 10 Armadale 11 Fremantle Spirit 12 Wanneroo City
Final Table Prediction 1 Mandurah City 2 Bayswater City 3 Ashfield 4 Balcatta 5 Morley-Windmills 6 Canning City 7 Dianella White Eagles 8 South West Phoenix 9 Forrestfield United 10 Gosnells City 11 Queens Park 12 Rockingham City
The 2007 Amateur Premier League promises to be another exciting season, with a number of teams expected to challenge for the league title. The bottom end of the table will also be of extra interest this year. With the Premier League being reduced from sixteen to twelve clubs for 2008, it will mean five of the bottom teams on the combined table will be relegated to the Amateur First Division.
FREMANTLE UNITED will once again be one of the teams to beat. The black and whites have had a very successful pre-season with the bulk of last year's squad and coaching staff returning. A few players such as Fabio Fusari are back after missing last year from injury. The pickup of David Onoforo from Perth SC is a very big boost to the existing strong strike force. Fremantle United also have some talented young players in their youth team who could step up to the senior squad as the season progresses. No one would want to bet against Fremantle United in making the championship play-off final in October.
2006 Champions SPEARWOOD DALMATINAC will find it hard to repeat their success of last season. Although the club will field a strong side to be there a bouts in 2007, it will be difficult to go back-to-back after the loss of some key players. The major departures are strikers Damien Pescud and David Palin who have joined Southern Spirit. Both were the highest goalscorers for the club last season and Dallies will wonder where their goals will come from this year. Darryn Rich and Keith Reynolds have also both left the club due to retirement. Morgan Fielding and Graham Rickman will be forced to take a more active role in scoring, however both are expected to miss a number of matches due to work commitments. Dalmatinac have added to their already strong defence by signing former Maltese national goalkeeper Richard Barrow and the return of solid defender Barry Rice. Val DeSousa and Kevin Fontana have both re-joined the club after a couple of years off. The midfield remains more or less unchanged and will be the key to where the club finishes come seasons end. A good pre-season build up saw Dalmatinac beat Shamrock Rovers and draw with Murdoch University twice and also tied with State League side Queens Park in the Shamrock carnival competition, which proves Spearwood Dalmatinac will still be a threat this season.
LYNWOOD COLTS have improved every season since they first entered the Amateur Premier League and it will come as no surprise if they finish in the top three of their group. The club have lost coach Ton Klaver, but still expect a strong challenge from Lynwood in 2007.
As usual UNIVERSITY OF WA will be a difficult team to beat. A number of players have returned to the team from a couple of seasons ago and this will no doubt make Uni an even stronger side this season. The only outs are Ben Rosman and Benks, however both of these positions will be adequately covered. Expect the students to have a better season this year.
SUBIACO UNITED should go close to finishing into the top four of their group. WA MACCABI shocked many after sacking coach Mo Caplin not long after he took the club to the First Division title. Maccabi are likely to finish around mid-table in their group, but will have to keep an eye out on the combined table so they don't finish in the bottom five and the dreaded drop that comes with it.
SUBURBS UNITED wont find it easy after losing several key players over the summer, while it's going to be a tough season for PERTH AZZURRI this year. The Sky blues have appointed Eddie Debrowski as senior coach, and his experience will help lift the confidence of the team. However, with the majority of his players are on the wrong side of thirty and with five teams being relegated it's going to be tough ask to stay up.
SOUTHERN SPIRIT have worked their way up the leagues over the past few seasons, and now find themselves in the Amateur top flight after winning promotion from the First Division. Southern Spirit are club that don't lack ambition, after securing the signing of John Ferreira last year, they have gone a step further by getting the services of Damien Pescud and David Palin who both won the championship with Spearwood Dalmatinac in 2006. The new strike force should help get the goals to gain top spot in Group B. The defence is Southern Spirit's weak link and this will be their key to their title aspirations. We might just see Southern Spirit with their hands on the trophy come October and playing Saturday football in 2008.
Once again SHAMROCK ROVERS will be up there fighting for honours. The biggest change was striker Flavio L'Abbate becoming coach, however in a move that surprised many, L'Abbate quit the hoops just prior to the season starting. Nik Silsby will remain as assistant, however he is likely to takeover as head coach till a replacement is found. Silsby's experience will no doubt help the team, as he was in charge when Shamrock last won the title in 2004. A host of new players have joined the club, including Aaron Cowdrey (Wanneroo City), Scott Wyeth (Wanneroo City), Brendan Lowe (Donegal Celtic), Gerard McAlea (Donegal Celtic), Pat Higginbottom (Curtin University), Michael Henderson (Irish Police FC), Rory Dunne (Ireland), Cory Schulte (USA), Cathal Lennon (returning from injury) and Mark Kilroy. While Gavin O'Brien, Asid Igal and Paul Warren have all left Rovers.
MURDOCH UNIVESITY, who will be playing their homes games at Winthrop Reserve this season, have lost their most influential player from 2006, as Alex Fjeld has gone to work overseas. Although he was the stand out player in the league last year his loss has made Murdoch into more of a team during their pre-season games, as players have stepped up a gear. To eradicate the poor starts Murdoch has had in the past couple of seasons the club decided to enter the night series, which has paid dividends as they have seen off State League First Division clubs with ease and scored many goals along the way to get into the semi-finals. Danny Jones has joined Andrew Barrett on the coaching staff to add a new dimension to the reserves side which is playing some of it's best football for a few years. Murdoch have struggled with depth to the squad in recent seasons, but with some new additions this year, things are looking promising with many players playing well after stepping into the first team for the night series. Michael Jennings is club captain once again. His leadership, not only his outstanding performances but never say die attitude has reverberated around the club and is rubbing off on others. Murdoch will give anyone a good game and should finish in the top three in Group B.
Last season's runners-up, the STIRLING PANTHERS will be hoping to go one better after getting thrashed by Spearwood Dalmatinac in the play-off final in 2006. Into the squad comes Darryl Thompson (UK amateur ranks), Daniel Sanzone and Peter Faragouna (a few years off) and out goes Daniel Vangelovski, Nuno De Pinho and Steven Kovacevich (Gwelup United). Stirling Panthers' pre-season results were mixed. The team entered the Night Series at late notice. First up it was the "derby" game against Bayswater City, it was the first time both teams had met since the clubs split. Bayswater won 7-2 but the score didn't reflect the game, as Bayswater scored late goals. Next game against Gosnells the Panthers lost 3-0, coach Bruno Serra experimented with the line-up as the team struggled to create any real chances. The final group game was against Morley-Windmills, which ended 1-1. Friendly games included a 3-1 loss to Bunbury United and a 5-1 win against International Calcio. The team is looking fit and sharp and will cause many problems to opposition teams this year. However, it is fair to say their group is tougher this year and a top four position in 2007 will be considered a good effort.
CN CANNING INTERNATIONAL are inconsistent, and if they are to improve this year they will need to string more wins together. Mid-table in their group beckons.
KINGSWAY OLYMPIC threw away a golden opportunity in returning to Saturday football this season after firstly failing to finish in the top three of their group in 2006 and secondly not being able to finish above Queens Park who ended up getting promotion instead. Olympic will continue the fight, however this year it may be more of a relegation one rather than a promotion one. The Green Machine have a lost a host of players, which include Alan Nanini, the talented Joe Wooden, Ryan Lickiss and Craig Lewis. All four players have left to play Saturday football with Morley-Windmills. Also to exit the club are Bryon (Perth), Sheldon Jacobie (Wanneroo City) and Lee Mackey (Wanneroo City). Though these losses are big, its a credit to the club who have recruited well with Joe Wright coming down the road from Hamersley, who no doubt will help Olympic with their goal-scoring this year along with Desi who last played with the Stirling Suns in 2005. Both players will add the spark up front that was lacking last season. Also to joined the team are Mark Albanetti (Balcatta), Brian Hedges (Kingsley), Paul Hedges (Kingsley), Joe Armitage (England), plus Andy Rowlands, Craig Stephenson, Oli Forster and Norm Cooke who have all returned after putting away their boots in 2006. John Musca and Richard Broxton have come back fully fit for the year ahead after injuries that marred last season. Kingsway Olympic have had a mixed pre-season, a dominant second half display saw Olympic overrun WA Maccabi, scoring 4 goals in the second 45 minutes in a 4-2 win. Similarly the club dominated Joondalup United in the first half to lead 2-0 then after changes conceded three second half goals. Against a strong Balcatta side Olympic were resilient until a goal in the final minute. The two big losses were against Saturday opposition, with Ashfield winning 8-1 and Dianella White Eagles 6-1. The team had wins against Ashfield Reserves 2-1 and defeated North Lake Espanol 3-2 in a friendly. Expect Kingsway Olympic to just be above the five team relegation trap-door at season's end.
SOUTH PERTH UNITED have appointed former Swan I.C and Canning City player Phillip Ragan and Last year's club captain Colin Harper in a dual coaching role for the upcoming season. Ragan recently returned from a two year stint in London, where he played for Kingsbury Town of the Ryman League. When Ragan was appointed in February, it wasn't looking good. At that point there was only a handful of players in the squad. However, with the hard work by all at South Perth, some quality players have joined over the past month. The biggest problem Ragan will face is that with a small squad, injuries will be crucial where the club finishes this season. Unquestionably survival in the Premier League is South Perth's main objective, and it's not going to be easy. For the Challenger Reserve outfit to stay up they will have to be at their best.
The glory days of only a few years back seem like a long time ago for a struggling HAMERSLEY ROVERS team. After losing Flavio L'Abatte last season, the club have now lost another quality striker in Joe Wright, who has joined neighbors Kingsway Olympic. Hamersley will need to have everything go in their favour if they want to play in their 17th consecutive season in the Premier League in 2008.
Final Table Prediction Group A 1 Fremantle United 2 Spearwood Dalmatinac 3 Lynwood Colts 4 University of WA 5 Subiaco United 6 WA Maccabi 7 Suburbs United 8 Perth Azzurri Group B 1 Southern Spirit 2 Shamrock Rovers 3 Murdoch University 4 Stirling Panthers 5 CN Canning International 6 Kingsway Olympic 7 South Perth United 8 Hamersley Rovers
JOONDALUP UNITED should be the team to beat for this year's Amateur First Division title. The championship is even more important this season, as only that side will be promoted to the Premier League with the runners-up being forced to stay in the First Division due to the top flight being reduced to twelve teams. This also means that the bottom five clubs will be relegated to the Second Division, making it harder than ever for the struggling clubs to avoid the dreaded drop.
After narrowly missing out on promotion to the Amateur Premier League last season, NORTH BEACH should bounce back stronger than ever. With the addition of several new players and the maturing of existing players, North Beach will prove to be harder to beat this year. Under the guidance of player/coaches Darren Young and his assistant Sean Cunningham, North Beach started their pre-season in late January alternating between Trigg and Mullaloo Beaches and with surprisingly good attendance. To date the three pre-season fixtures have all been played against varying opposition. The first being only a week after getting back on to grass, was a 7-3 loss to Shamrock Rovers in blistering 37 degree temperatures. They bounced back from the loss to demolish Balga 8-1 and then more than held their own in a 1-1 draw with Premier League new-boys WA Maccabi. Bigger and better things are expected from several players this year, with the mainstay of experienced players and a few new players that have come in and gelled really well. Built on a solid defence which will be strengthened further with the addition of quality players coming back from knee reconstructions and other minor fixes. The midfield and forward lines should be left to create havoc for the opposition in the knowledge that they are well covered. The club have gained the services of several players, some of which have relocated from the eastern states, others from other local Sunday and ex-Saturday Under 18's and Reserves players and some of North Beach's own promising youth players who the club hopes will keep developing nicely. Returning to the squad is Robbie Pfeiffer after going to the UK for most of last year and midfield dynamo Nick Schafer. North Beach should have a very good season and wont be far from the top in 2007.
KINGSLEY had a good season last year and with North Beach they will likely be Joondalup's main threat to the only promotion spot, with KWINANA UNITED not far behind.
GWELUP UNITED should continue their great form of recent seasons. Big recruits last season included Sveto Njirich from Balcatta and Rodney Njirich from Morley-Windmills. Who both came across to join brother Ivica. Even though Gwelup's main aim is to avoid relegation, the club could be looking at greater heights if 2006 Second Division top goal scorer Nico Kalic can score plenty of goals. A number of young players under the age of 21 have joined Gwelup, they include Ilija Mihalj (Balcatta), Adam Segon (Sorrento), Daniel Markovic (Striling Lions/back from injury), Romano Franulic (Cockburn City) and Andjelko Drlja (Western Knights/back from injury). Gwelup have lost a couple of players to Kingsway Olympic, including Nico Peranavic, however with new coach Dejan Andelkovic (former goalkeeper with Bayswater City and ex NSL club Cartlon) at the helm and with an influx of young talent at his disposal there are good signs that Gwelup will carry on their good results from last season.
Mark Webb has the bulk of his squad returning at MORLEY-WINDMILLS for the 2007 season. The big problem for the men in orange last year was consistency. If Windmills can get enough wins on the board early in the season, it should give the club confidence in staying in the First Division in 2008.
Glynn Shaw has seen new arrivals come to BALGA over the summer, and this should help the club climb the ladder. The biggest signing is Gary James, who only recently played his trade in the Saturday leagues with Morley-Windmills and Bassendean Caledonian. With loads of experience he will no doubt lead the line this season and his arrival could also see other potential players over the following weeks who have previously played with Callies. Other signings include two Brazilian midfielders from BB United, Mal "Jock" Mackie who has played at Saturday Premier League level with Balga in his younger days in the 1980's, a new goalkeeper from Northern Ireland has joined as has Zoran from Dianella White Eagles.
KINGSWAY OLYMPIC have lost several key players from the team that has secured promotion in both of the previous two seasons and the Second Division title. The loss of last season's top three leading scorers means that Olympic have to re-evaluate where goals are going to come from and if pre-season is anything to go by they may struggle. With no goals scored in their 3-0 loss to Hamersley Rovers and a 4-0 loss to Kalamunda United in friendlies. However, all is not doom and gloom at Kingsway Reserve as the Green Machine are currently missing no less than eight players out through injury or unavailability. As these players start to return prior to when the season starts the squad will be much stronger. Olympic's main priority this year is to avoid the bottom five trap-door and consolidate in the First Division, but this will not be easy. With a bit of luck and maybe a couple of extra players there is no reason why Kingsway Olympic couldn't surprise and finish higher in the table.
BELMONT VILLA should improve in 2007, however with so many teams getting relegated this season it's not going to be an easy year. Villa however would be happy to see the return of coach Dave Sang who has teamed up with current league squad coach Phil Weall. Together they have put the squad through a punishing pre-season regime and swept out the aging first team players and recruited well to replace the stars of yesterday. Hence the addition of a Masters team to Belmont Villa this year. Sang previously coached at Belmont in the 2000 and 2001 seasons and was noted for his youth policy, and it seems not much has changed. Competition for spots has been tough in the first team as many regulars from previous years will find it hard to retain their positions. Into the team comes Harry Souter (England, a left sided midfield/defender, young and quick), Peter Horgan (Ireland, Middleton FC, a hard working and uncompromising midfielder), Dave Ring (Ireland, Middleton FC, a skillful and pacey midfielder), Qiu Cunyang (Quick and skillful winger, equally comfortable on both sides). Also added to the squad are Abel Mphande and Rhys Britton, who did not play in 2006 but was formally at Swan IC. Brutton is coming back from a knee operation in 2006 and has shown to be a strong and reliable striker. Two more players from Ireland are likely to sign in the coming weeks. Players that have left Villa include Ken Wise (retired), James Bongiovanni (Swan IC), Justin West (Retired) and Steve Lani (retired).
PERTH INTERNATIONAL CALCIO had been inconsistent last season and this may cost them relegation in 2007. FREMANTLE COLO COLO have gone from 2005 Premier League champions to relegation the following year and with the player drain continuing the club could find themselves in the Second Division next season, while BB UNITED after losing several players could find themselves rock-bottom this year.
Final Table Prediction 1 Joondalup United 2 North Beach 3 Kingsley 4 Kwinana United United 5 Gwelup United 6 Motley-Windmills Amateurs 7 Balga 8 Kingsway Olympic "B" 9 Belmont Villa 10 International Calico 11 Fremantle Colo Colo 12 BB United
Final Table Prediction 1 North Lake Espanol 2 Floreat Athena Amateurs 3 Perth Royals 4 Kalamunda United 5 Fremantle Croatia 6 North Perth United 7 Ballajura 8 Curtin University 9 Forrestfield United Amateurs 10 Wembley Downs Wanderers 11 Armadale Amateurs 12 Carlisle
Final Table Prediction 1 Beldon 2 Whitford City 3 Rockingham City Amateurs 4 East Fremantle Tricolore 5 Kelmscott Roos 6 Mandurah City Amateurs 7 Gosnells City Amateurs 8 Port Kennedy 9 Westside 10 Golden Lilly 11 Subiaco United "B"
Final Table Prediction 1 Maddington Eagles 2 Melville City 3 Heathridge 4 Cannington United 5 Nedlands 6 Kalamunda United "B"
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This page was last updated on the 20th April 2007