Eight for Langwarrin, Skye six to Seaford
Frankston area round-up by Craig MacKenzie
The off-season player merry-go-round involving all six clubs in the Frankston area will be a distant memory this Saturday, when the league season gets underway.
Langwarrin have brought in eight new players to its first team squad. They are goalkeeper Orwin Castel (capped 16 times for Mauritius), fellow keeper Sean Skelly, defender Alex van Heerwarden, utility Ben Caffrey, Irish midfielder Mark O’Connor, Kiwi sweeper Paul Stewart, midfielder Berkan Sakaci and striker Koray Suat.
Langy opens up with a home clash against Diamond Valley and goes into this campaign with more depth than last season and high hopes of mounting a promotion challenge.
The State League Three South-East season opener for Frankston Pines is a difficult away assignment against Old Scotch.
Frankston welcome a number of new players including utility player Sam Jennens from Croydon, midfielder Ross Robertson from Peninsula Strikers, along with utility Chris Aldonato and Peter Dimcevski returns after a year-long break.
Frankston Pines coach Danny Verdun said another signing, former Dandenong Thunder under-21s player Yusuf Zara “could be a real surprise packet” despite coming back from a broken leg.
The Pines still remain in the hunt for a strike partner for ace predator Chris Hodgson.
Last season, Pines won promotion from the recently disbanded Provisional Leagues and now reacquaint themselves with traditional rival, Peninsula Strikers.
Peninsula have gone through an eventful off-season with only three members of last year’s first team squad remaining after a mass player walkout following the axing of coach Jamie Skelly at the end of last season.
Left-sided midfielder Shane Sinclair, attacking midfielder Alex Akrivopoulos and goalkeeper Steve Eleftheriou are the only remaining players.
The man in the coaching hot seat is Davie Reid, who oversees one of the youngest squads in the league.
Reid has signed former Kingston City midfielder Onur Tufan, defender Jack Pilgram, former Langy sweeper Lewis Potter and striker Blake Hicks from Baxter.
Former captain, midfielder Alex Calder is recovering from injury, but Reid is hopeful former Strikers midfielder Gerald Lawler, who was named All-New England Collegiate Conference rookie of the year last November with his US college team, will be back in time to face Casey Comets in the season opener at Comets Stadium.
The ace up Reid’s sleeve could be teenage hit-man Josh Vega from the club’s under-18s, who has been scoring for fun during pre-season friendlies.
Comets’ playing stocks have been replenished during the off-season after the club lured Stan Webster back to the senior coaching post.
Watch out for Scottish imports Frank Gibson, midfielder Sean McLachlan and defender Chris Reid.
Gibson is from Irvine Meadow and can play in midfield or up front. He’s a hard nut, has a cannon-like shot and is going to make a big impression in his inaugural Victorian season.
Other Comets’ newcomers include Morwell Pegasus trio Scott Webster, John McCluskie and Jason Rand, while striker Matt Morris Thomas joins from Mornington and Simon Webster from Dandenong City.
Seaford United has added an edge to its derby battles with Skye United by signing six players from its State League Four South rival during the off-season.
Former Skye player-coach Darren Roberts and his son Alex led the exodus and were joined by defender Jason Alizzi, defender or midfielder Alan Busuttil, goalkeeper Paul DiGiorgio and striker Adrian Busso.
Seaford coach Kevin “Squizzy” Taylor also laid out the welcome mat for forwards Alistair Wallace and Jack Wrobel from Peninsula Strikers, ex-Dandenong Thunder player Jamie Baxter, defender Harry Chapman from Mornington and English imports Luke Noble, a defender and left-sided midfielder Andy Packer.
Taylor hopes to complete the signing of attacking midfielder Li Nam Wong from Hampton Park United this week.
Seaford kicks off their season with a home game against South Yarra.
Skye United begins its campaign at home against Old Brighton Grammarians and head coach John Bruce is delighted to have signed experienced central defender Stuart Scott, who has played in England’s Football Conference Leagues and Daniel Tagliaferro, a holding midfielder or central defender from Hampton Park United.
Bruce also has nabbed goalkeeper Lee Herron from Berwick City and has promoted teenage full-backs Marcus Collier and Dale Atkins, who were part of the club’s all-conquering under-16 side last season.
Frank Dimu has been appointed captain after a stellar 2012 season, when he was the club’s top scorer and best and fairest winner.
“We’ve got a couple more players in mind but we’ll keep them under our hat for now because we don’t want a rival club pinching them,” said Bruce.
State League Five South outfit Baxter kicks off with an away clash against Noble Park.
Baxter’s major signings include central midfielder and former Glen Waverley captain Martin Sutherland, central defender Jim Moore, English import, midfielder Michael Naughton and ex-Seaford goalkeeper Brad Klarenbeek.“I think we’ll be competitive but we’re a wee bit thin in terms of depth,” senior coach Jim Hardie said.
“Our most important re-signing has been club captain John Camburn who is my assistant coach and who has got back some of the players from last year who were thinking of leaving.”
Fixtures for the opening round of the 2013 league season:
Saturday 6 April 3pm:
Langwarrin v Diamond Valley (Lawton Park)
Casey Comets v Peninsula Strikers (Comets Stadium)
Old Scotch v Frankston Pines (H. A. Smith Reserve)
Seaford Utd v South Yarra (North Seaford Reserve)
Skye Utd v Old Brighton Grammarians (Skye Recreational Reserve)
Noble Park v Baxter (Luth Reserve).