The PlayStation 4 NPL Northern New South Wales 2015 Season is just around the corner and it is promising to be the biggest and best ever seen in the Hunter.
The off-season has witnessed the resigning and recruitment of a total of seven former A League players, five head-coaching changes, and a plethora of inter-club player movement.
After a stellar season in the National Youth League (NYL) the Newcastle Jets Youth continued that form to be crowned Premiers of the inaugural NPL in season 2014. This year’s NYL form has been inconsistent so time will tell what that means for their NPL season ahead.
Grand Final Winners Lambton Jaffas have lost some key personnel with Kale Bradbury and Dino Fajkovic defecting to rivals Broadmeadow Magic FC and Goalkeeper Danny Ireland to Hamilton Olympic FC who ironically lost their 2014 goalkeeper, Brad Swancott, to Lambton. They were extremely efficient in their signings however, welcoming Magic’s Hakan Kanli, former Jet Michael Bridges and Korean Lee Soo-myung to join Swancott.
Weston Workers Bears, the 2014 Grand Final Runners Up, parted ways with 2014 Coach of the Year, Steve Piggott, and Player of the Year, Connor Evans, in the off-season. They have been busy on the recruitment front with key signings James Monie from Hamilton, Troy Hearfield from Charlestown and former Bear Joel Hardwick from the NSW PS4 NPL.
After surprisingly unsuccessful seasons in 2014, Broadmeadow Magic and Hamilton Olympic’s intentions are clear, with Olympic signing South Cardiff’s Jamie Byrnes, Charlestown’s Kane Goodchild, and Ireland, and Magic signing Bradbury and Fajkovic along with relegated Lake Macquarie’s goalkeeper Nathan Archbold and Newcastle Jets Youth Player Michael Finlayson.
Adamstown Rosebud have also struck gold with the signings of Stuart Musialik, who also helped the Newcastle Jets win the Hyundai A-League Grand Final in 2008, and Garry Kenneth, who in that same year took the pitch against a Barcelona side boasting the likes of Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry. Ten of their top 20 were members of the 2014 squad, and the remaining ten are fresh faces introduced by new head coach Graham Law.
Charlestown City Blues, Edgeworth Eagles and South Cardiff will be relying on similar squads to season 2014 and the development of players from their Youth Football programs. The Eagles face a strong task; forced to play majority, if not all of the 2015 season without captain Luke Walker. Charlestown said goodbye to a key player, clubman Kane Goodchild, who signed for Hamilton Olympic.
Of the three rival Lake Macquarie clubs South Cardiff produced the best signing, with the introduction of Korean attacking midfielder Jung Sang-deok. The Gunners lost two veterans of their own however in Chris Gazzard and Mick Stafford.
Newcomers Maitland FC dominated all before them in the 2014 NEWFM 1st Division, losing just one game all season and will look to continue this in 2015. To add to the quality they possess all over the park, they have signed midfielder Matt Thompson, a former Socceroo who helped the Newcastle Jets win the A-League Grand Final in 2008 and Alex Read, a former North Queensland Fury striker.
There is already a keen sense of anticipation around the 2015 PS4 National Premier League season, with the competition expected to get off to a flying start with several “rivalry” matches in Round 1 commencing with Edgeworth hosting Charlestown at Jack McLaughlan Oval at 8.30pm on Friday 10th April.
The following day an epic 2014 Preliminary Final replay sees the Lambton Jaffas host the Newcastle Jets Youth at Arthur Edden Oval. The match will also be broadcast live on Bar TV.
To round out the weekend’s matches, Sunday witnesses another huge clash, with Broadmeadow Magic welcoming traditional rivals Hamilton Olympic to Magic Park. Newcomers Maitland FC head to Ulinga Oval to face the South Cardiff Gunners and Weston will be looking for revenge against Adamstown away from home after the Rosebud demolished them 6-0 in Round 4 of the Westfield FFA Cup.