We are just days away from the start of the Battlewin Sports 2021 Season. After a shortened 2020 campaign, BPL is back to a full 18-round 10-team competition starting this weekend. Reverting back to a 10-team competition saw us lose 3 teams to relegation at the end of the 2020 season (East Gosford, Umina, Woy Woy) while Kariong enter the BPL for the first time in the club’s history.

Killarney

The 2021 season for Killarney Vale should be much of the same as they look to go for a historic 6th straight League Champions. Undoubtedly the greatest squad Central Coast Football has ever seen, Killarney will look to use last year’s 1-0 Grand Final defeat to Terrigal as fuel for the upcoming season.

Killarney will shape up a little different this year after losing key players Brendan Hall and Cameron Donovan from their grand final side as they have relocated to play in Newcastle. Despite the losses, Killarney Coach Chris Ackerley stated, “Our side is building quite well despite all the disruptions with the weather and accessing training facilities”.

Killarney are well known for producing a great youth system and integrating them into their grade squad, they will more than likely look to challenge for the title in all 3 grades again. 

Terrigal 

2020 BPL Premiers Terrigal will look to carry the momentum from their grand final win into the season ahead and hit the ground running. They were unfortunate not to take out the league championship as well after falling just 3 points short of Killarney.

Terrigal have lost 3 key players for the 2021 Season (Lachlan Wilkinson, Daniel Tuddenham, Zach Allen) but have replaced them during their very busy off-season. Terrigal not only welcome Robbie Walton (East Gosford), the return of Daniel Bird (Newcastle), 2-time BPL player of the year Stuart Adams (Avoca) to their 2021 squad, but also ex A-League and Central Coast Mariners player Jacob Melling. This is a lot of added firepower to a side that already won a grand-final in 2020. 

Terrigal Coach Martyn Griffiths is ecstatic for the BPL season that is ahead, “it’s going to be a very competitive competition and to achieve and regain the premiership we have to be at our best week in week out, but I truly believe in this squad to compete again at all three levels.

Berkeley Vale

The Wombats squad will look a little different this year as Berkeley Vale has seen a lot of players move both from and to the club. Berkeley Vale was very unlucky not to make the grand-final after losing 5-4 to Terrigal in a thrilling contest that ending their 2020 finals run. 

Berkeley have lost goalkeeper Jake Purches, who decided to return to Toukley with Berkeley striker Jai Kelly after a year away but also goalie Steven Grimmitt who joins fellow wombats Michael Dalton, Bradley Smythe and Todd Tipping who all have jumped ship to play for The Entrance. 

Berkeley has acquired Kyle Lawther (Umina) to solve their goalkeeper problems whilst also adding 25 new players to the group, ranging from players over the Central Coast, Newcastle and Sydney. Berkeley Coach Mark Pratt stated, “A real addition of youth players who will push for starting spots in first grade”.  

The Entrance

Much like Berkeley Vale, The Entrance will be shaping up a little different this year. The Entrance who struck out in the 2020 finals series to Berkeley Vale via penalties will look to do better this year by once again making the top 4 and pushing for the grand-final.

The Entrance have lost Brad Sheen (Retired), Bailey Garland (Newcastle), Adam Blunden (Newcastle) and Josh Swadling (CCU) all form their first-grade squad but have managed to pick up Matthew Johnson (Newcastle), David Mcpherson & Samuel Bettison (Woongarrah), Steven Grimmitt, Michael Dalton, Bradley Smythe & Todd Tipping (Berkeley Vale). The Entrance will look very different in the year 2021.

“With us having such a big turnover of players and with the disrupted pre-season, it is a bit of an unknown for us, hopefully the team can gel together quickly, and we can get some points early on the board”.

Woongarrah

2019 grand finalist’s Woongarrah just missed out on finals football in 2020 by goal difference. Coach Luke Rogers is very excited about his squad for the upcoming year. Rogers said, “We have had a dis-jointed pre-season with washouts or clubs having to cancel, luckily CCF pushed ahead with the cup and we managed to get some games in”.

Woongarrah has had 6 players from last year’s starting line-up move on to other clubs, most noticeable would be their 2020 leading goal scorer Kane Woolston. The Wildcats have recruited very well and are also lucky enough to welcome back Chris Gavin and Ashley Henderson who return after having a year off. 

“The camaraderie and vibe in the squad has been the best this season since I’ve been here so while it might be a slow start to the season results-wise, we are excited for what 2021 has to offer” Rogers stated. 

Wyoming

Wyoming comes into competition like most other BPL teams this year, with a very up and down pre-season. The 2021 Wyoming outfit will be looking for revenge as they fell just short of finals football the previous year.

Ian McAndrew will be taking the reign of Wyoming once again but will not have his captain Matt Hall alongside him as Matt will be taking a year off after injuring his ACL late last season. Wyoming also picked up a few long-term injuries in their FFA Cup clash with Coogee United. Wyoming has managed to add to their quality youth with talented players Felix Beed and Kassidy Lalor. To go along with their youth signings, Wyoming have also acquired the experienced Darren Cooper and Josh Smith.

Wyoming last year had a very young and inexperienced first-grade side towards the end of the year, but you can expect the same youth to be a lot more confident and experienced come the 2021 season. McAndrew is “hopeful it all comes together come Sunday against Berkeley”

Southern & Ettalong

Despite having finished in the 7th spot in 2020, Southern was only 2 points away from making the top 4. Having entered not only the Mate Association Cup but FFA Cup as well, Southern Coach Dale Eggleton is “pleased with preparation going into the start of the competition”

Southern’s advantage of playing good opposition in trial games has giving Dale a chance to look at all players and combinations, having picked up convincing wins over Killarney and The Entrance in pre-season. Southern have acquired Andrew Ollier to help on the coaching staff as well as introducing new players Matt Caisley, Otway Clark and Shane O’Flaherty to boost their BPL side for the upcoming season.

 “We will be focused on our own performance and looking to be consistent over the 90 minutes”, Dale stated. If Southern can play to their abilities, they will be a real threat to any opposition during season 2021.

Avoca

Avoca finished their 2020 BPL campaign with just 5 wins from 16 games as they will look to turn things around this year. Avoca welcome back head coach Neal Hide to lead the Sharks for the 2021 season.

Although Avoca has lost their main man Stuart Adams (Terrigal) as well as multiple other senior players mainly due to retirement, Neal has introduced Matthew Fulwood (Umina) and Nathan Baker (Kanwal) to his side. As the story goes when players retire, there will always be the youth of Avoca to bring into the squad and they will get their chance this season.

Avoca will look the get their season off to a solid start as they play Woongarrah at home, a game Neal is excited for and expects a “highly entertaining match”.

Kanwal

Kanwal performed below expectation finishing in the 9th spot with just 15 points from 16 games. Last year marked the first year in BPL without Brad Porter as head coach, instead, Kanwal’s Ryan Walker stepped up into the first-grade role. Kanwal will be hoping that last year will mark as a transitional year and are hoping to do bigger and better things in the forthcoming season.

Kanwal have lost a few players over the 3 grades but have also gained quality aswell. Joseph Liddle (Berkeley) returns to Kanwal and is a big signing for the Bulls. Kanwal have also been introducing their 16 and 17-year old’s into the senior set up and they will get their opportunity at different times this season.

Kanwal is the only BPL team that did not participate in the Mate Association Cup, so a lot is still unknown about their 2021 squad. 

Kariong

Exciting and challenging times ahead for Kariong as the club competes in the BPL for the first time in its 31-year history. Kariong Coach Mark Owen took out the 2020 Div 1 Club Championship to solidify his squad’s spot in BPL for the season ahead.

“The Kariong squad remains reasonably stable from last year’s successful Division 1 campaign”, Kariong Reserve Grade Coach Paul Stilgoe stated. Kariong does add some firepower as Paul Marcellino, Jacob Tongyik, Keiran Montaser and Kevin Gallagher join Shane Littlehales, James Draper, Nick Trengrove and a host of young talent to test themselves against the best of BPL.

Kariong is sure to have their hands full in their first match as they take on Southern & Ettalong at Kariong Oval. The Kariong side will look to hit the ground running in their first-ever BPL match.