The Whyalla soccer season is almost upon us with the pre-season Alan Walker League Cup rounds starting on the weekend of March 16. Here’s how some of the clubs are shaping up for the new season ahead starting with last year's league champions Lions.
Once again Brian Murphy will take charge and has pretty much the same squad as last season but a doubt hangs over veteran Gordon Worsnop who is struggling with a major back injury and word is his playing days maybe over as he concentrates on work and family commitments. Another that’s in doubt is James Hazeal who could be out for the year as his ankle Hasn’t improved over the off season. What a year Matt Nielsen had and with Pyett, Knox, Kinnear and Colaruotolo, they will be up there again as challengers for the title.
Croatia’s future is unclear as they are struggling to put together two sides for this season's campaign. New coach Eddie Ferguson will bring a lot of experience to the table having played in the height of Whyalla soccer in the 70s and 80s. If they do they’ll still be very competitive with a new signing of Matt Beazley from the Northern Territory premier league and the return of prodigal son Ben Longin who has returned from Adelaide. Along with Fetahagic, Oberthur, Tudhope, Alex Longin and Torr Butler they could still cause an upset or two.
Steel United will once again have Brian Finnigan at the helm and the current Association cup holders will be the ones to beat in 2019. They’ve lost a lot of goals with the departure of Joslyn but have picked up the flamboyant Corey King from Croatia along with young gun Lachlan Paterson. Steel will once again be strong down the spine with Anthony Fay, Green and Ledington all top players in there positions. Keegan Fay should improve yet again and with Michaelis, Brooks and Thompson they have a really strong squad.
Westland United has seen the return of former league championship winning coach Andy Mitchell to take the reigns yet again and has a good base of players to work with. One of those players is Steven Payne who is one of the signings of the season, if he’s fit and ready, he’ll be hard to handle. Westland have many players who have been with the club a long time including Edmondson, Rhodes, Mitchell, Anderson and Darby who will all be crucial in their 2019 campaign. If they put out a regular team every week with those mentioned, they can be up there competing for trophies.
Wanderers have gone heavy in the transfer market during the off season and got their target in Neville ‘Nifty ‘ Paterson from Croatia to hopefully bring some success to the club. With that has come players Joslyn, Papulis, Faulds, Shannon, Mikic and Brown to bolster their squad that has already got Ratzlaf, Dawson, Rowlands and the Robinson brothers. Wanderers also have some great youngsters that won the U17s league last season so depth shouldn’t be an issue. Could Wanderers break one of the biggest droughts in Whyalla sport? Only time will tell but their surely up there amongst the favourites.
- DAVID HERBERT