Now the dust has settled, we look back and assess how your club performed in season 2017:
1. Camden Tigers
Season 2017 is one that will live long in the memory of Camden fans. After securing the Club Championship in the last round of the regular season, Dean Bradley’s side showed tremendous character to upset Bankstown in the Grand Final. Blessed with explosive pace and an unmatched enthusiasm, Camden will be a force to be reckoned with if their promotion to the NPL3 is confirmed.
Top Scorer: Jayden Russel 25 goals
Best Forward: Jayden Russel – merciless in front of goal, boasts all the qualities you want in a forward
Best Midfielder: Callum Rogers – lead by example through the season, the heartbeat of the Camden team
Best Defender: Mitchell Green – Consistent performer all season with tidy defensive work.
Moment to Remember: You can’t go beyond the Grand Final victory. Down to 10 men after 15 minutes and still managed to overcome a strong Bankstown team in extra-time.
Moment to Forget: The heavy 4-1 Major Semi Final defeat to Bankstown threatened to derail the Tigers’ Grand Final ambitions.
2. Bankstown United
After finishing on top of the ladder after the regular season, Bankstown looked primed to complete a Premiership/Championship double after winning the Major Semi Final 4-1. Their performance in the Grand Final fell short of the stellar standards they set for themselves all season and the Bankstown boys will no doubt be desperate to make amends in season 2018.
Top Scorer: Tom Markovski 14 goals
Best Forward: Tom Markovski – pace, power and an eye for goal. Markovski gave defenders nightmares all season
Best Midfielder: Jovan Miladinovic – the diminutive midfielder pulls all the strings in the middle of the park.
Best Defender: Haruki Nakano – Comfortable on the ball and plenty of pace for a defender. 5 goals is a solid return also.
Moment to Remember: A 6-2 victory over UNSW in Round 16 all but sealed the Premiership trophy for Bankstown.
Moment to Forget: The Grand Final defeat to Camden. With a numerical advantage, Bankstown weren’t able to assert their authority on the match and their players must be thinking, ‘what if…’, as they reflect on a missed opportunity.
3. Nepean FC
Stumbled into the finals series, finishing one point above UNSW in 5th. Their performances in the finals showed how good Nepean can be – dismantiling Hurstville FC in the Minor Semi Final before going down to Camden in a tight affair in the Preliminary Final. Comfortable with the ball and like to play out from the back, Nepean play a stylish brand of football but lacked quality in the final third in crucial moments this season.
Top Scorer: Joel Bayubahe 13 goals
Best Forward: Clement Waoci – got the fans off their seat every time he got the ball this season. 8 goals in 14 games for the forward with lightning pace and brute strength.
Best Midfielder: David Adjassou – composed on the ball and a key figure in Nepean’s possession game.
Best Defender: Thomas Hamilton – arguably the best keeper in the league. Made some outstanding saves at crucial times to keep his team in matches. His performance against Camden in the Preliminary Final was outstanding. Honourable mention to Masudi Elongo whose transformation from midfielder into a defender brought out the best in the player and the Nepean team.
Moment to Remember: A thumping 5-2 win over Hurstville FC in the Minor Semi Final not only brought Hurstville’s incredible winning run to an end but also had Magdy Andrawe’s team dreaming of a Grand Final appearance.
Moment to Forget: Despite dominating possession against Camden in the Preliminary Final, Nepean couldn’t find the goal their fans desperately craved. The pain of losing this match would have only been worsened by seeing Camden lift the Championship trophy just a week later.
4. Hurstville FC
After their 3-1 defeat to Camden in Round 13, Hurstville were sitting, what seemed like an insurmountable 6 points outside the top 4. Knowing they needed to win each of their remaining 5 games to qualify for the finals, Hurstville did just that – conceding just 1 goal in the process. Their incredible run came to an abrupt end with a heart-breaking 5-2 defeat to Nepean in the Minor Semi Final, but will undoubtedly leave the Hurstville faithful excited for their team’s prospects next season.
Top Scorer: Adrian Livio 6 goals
Best Forward: Henry Kamleitner – left foot of dreams. RB’s in the Men’s State League will still be having nightmares.
Best Midfielder: Tommy Borovickic – got better as the season went on – key part of Hurstville’s end of season resurgence.
Best Defender: Patrick Lloyd marshalled the defence with intelligence and courage. Formed a Vidic/Ferdinand like partnership with Andrew Harb.
Moment to Remember: Their 1-0 win over rivals Hurstville City Minotaurs in Round 17 completed a double over their nosy neighbours this season as well as all but securing a finals place. Their last round victory over Prospect to secure a top four spot comes a close second – but there’s nothing quite like beating your closest rivals!
Moment to Forget: After an incredible winning streak to sneak into the finals, a mixture of poor discipline and wasted chances cost Hurstville dearly in the knockout semi final against Nepean. The 5-2 score-line flattered the mountain men but it was a disappointing way to go out for a Hurstville team that had the potential to trouble any of the top four sides
Set the league alight with an historic 8 wins in a row during the middle of the year and looked prime to finish in the top four positions. Unfortunately the late season wobbles kicked in, losing 3 in Rounds 14-16, to eventually finish one point outside the finals places.
Top Scorer: Dylan Penglase 10 goals
Best Forward: Dylan Penglase – When he’d score one, he’d often score 2. A strikerwho symbolised much of UNSW’s season – when he was on, there were few teams who could handle him.
Best Midfielder: Ilan Kessler – 6 goals in 8 games for the midfielder with silky skills. Can only wonder if UNSW would’ve made the finals if he had played more games.
Best Defender: Lenox Tweneboa – exudes composure and poise at the heart of the UNSW defence. Brilliant on the ball and a lion in the tackle.
Moment to Remember: A crushing 4-1 victory over eventual champions Camden at Valentine Sports Park in Round 10 had the UNSW fans dreaming of Grand Final glory and showed the league how dangerous they can be on their day.
Moment to Forget: A 1-0 defeat at home to Hurstville FC in Round 15 cost UNSW a top four spot. If they avoided defeat in this match they would have finished in 3rd. This game still hurts for the Uni boys.
6. Prospect United
After undergoing wholesale changes to their 2016 squad, Prospect were something of an unknown quantity this season. Similar to UNSW, Prospect’s season was hampered by inconsistency. Wins over UNSW and Hurstville showed the enormous potential of this fresh Prospect team, but draws to FC Gazy and a defeat to Western Condors ultimately cost Darren Camilleri’s side a top four place.
Top Scorer: Matthew Pritchard 5 goals
Best Forward: Nick Valjak – the energizer bunny of the Prospect front-line combines explosive pace with dazzling skills.
Best Midfielder: Thomas Kasunic – lead by example in the midfield with energy and enthusiasm. Makes the players around him play better.
Best Defender: Chris Barbera – Consistent performer each week and often the first name on coach Camilleri’s team sheet – Chris won’t let you down.
Moment to Remember: An incredible 5-2 victory over fellow top four hopefuls Hurstville City Minotaurs in Round 16 – Troy Sullivan and Wilter Jajaw turned on the style with two amazing goals for the home fans.
Moment to Forget: Although it was early in the season, Prospect’s 2-1 defeat to Western Condors in Round 6 would end up being 3 points that cost them dearly in their quest for top four qualification. Their draw in Round 13 against FC Gazy was just as damaging as these shock results saw Prospect finish just outside the finals places.
7. Hurstville City Minotaurs
There’s a fine line between pleasure and pain. And don’t the Minotaurs know it.
In a season of, ‘so close, yet so far’, the Minotaurs ended up finishing 7th despite being in the hunt for a finals place for most of the season. In crucial moments in crucial games, the Minotaurs weren’t able to capitalise on their chances and it ultimately cost them, as Peter Sarikakas’s side will look to rebuild the squad for success in 2018.
Top Scorer: Esoghume Dominic 6 goals
Best Forward: Esoghume Dominic – the powerful forward could weave his way through defenders, bullying them off the ball and still have the deftness of touch to chip the ball over the keeper and into the back of the net.
Best Midfielder: Kushaal Ram – has clearly spent time watching Ronaldo freestyle videos as the midfielder’s exotic skills sent opposition defences into a daze. 5 goals to his name is a decent return for the wide midfielder.
Best Defender: Lorenzo Fatica – experience at the back proved vital for the Minotaurs in key moments this season. Composure on the ball laid the platform for some stylish football.
Moment to Remember: A thrilling Round 14 victory over UNSW gave the Minotaurs genuine belief that they could sneak into the top four.
Moment to Forget: The 5-2 defeat to Prospect in Round 16 effectively ended the Minotaurs’ season and brought an abrupt end to their season – they followed up this defeat with two more losses in the final two rounds.
8. Western Condors:
With their creativity and stylish football – Western Condors were a true highlight reel team in season 2017. Flair, finesse and the excitement of continental football, the Western Condors were always an enjoyable team to watch. Unfortunately their defensive frailties resulted them being on the wrong side of some heavy score-lines and ultimately fell way short of a finals spot.
Top Scorer: Christian Leiva Martinez and Travis Ornelas 3 goals
Best Forward: Christian Leiva Martinez – worked hard in possession and out of possession. His game is more than just goals as he creates opportunities for his teammates.
Best Midfielder: Sasa Maric – Never stopped working for his team.
Best Defender: Pablo Meza – plenty of leadership and experience from the intelligent defender.
Moment to Remember: An action-packed 3-3 draw against Camden in Round 16 prevented the Tigers from claiming the Premiership and ensured the Condors would not finish bottom of the table.
Moment to Forget: A 6-0 trouncing by Bankstown in Round 4. Ouch.
9. FC Gazy Auburn
Locked in a wooden-spoon battle with Wagga City all season, FC Gazy’s tumultuous 3-2 victory in the last game of the season ensured Ernesto Meduri’s team would avoid the dreaded spoon for season 2017.
Top Scorer: Javier Diaz 5 goals
Best Forward: Javier Diaz – the striker managed 5 goals for a team that struggled to create opportunities this season – a reflection of his predatory instincts.
Best Midfielder: Mohamed Dauda – he’s Kante but 2 foot taller. Broke up attacks and was a powerhouse in the centre of the park.
Best Defender: Mory Konateh – seemed to never run out of energy. Boasts impressive strength and pace for a defender and saved his team on multiple occasions with lunging tackles.
Moment to Remember: The Round 18 victory over Wagga City which ensured the Wanderers would be the ones travelling home with the spoon.
Moment to Forget: FC Gazy’s 1-0 defeat to Western Condors was a game Ernesto Meduri’s side should have won. They went down to 10-men early in the match and missed countless opportunities, before Condors broke FC Gazy hearts with a last-minute free-kick winner.
10. Wagga City Wanderers
A young team who never stopped trying all season. The extensive travelling seemed to take its toll on the Wagga players, as they did not collect a single point after Round 10.
Top Scorer: Lachlan Davis 6 goals
Best Forward: Tyler Allen – ably supported by Lachlan Davis, these two formed a formidable partnership up front for Wagga. Their blistering pace meant opposition defenders could not switch off as they looked to explode into space in behind the defensive line.
Best Midfielder: Adrian Jolly – a jolly good season for Adrian whose relentless running and enthusiasm ensured every team who travelled to Gissing Oval was in for a tough match.
Best Defender: Chinedu Arinze – put his body on the line each week for his team-mates; a player any coach would want in their team.
Moment to Remember: Wagga fans would have printed off the table after Round 1 as their 5-1 thumping of Western Condors saw them lead the way after the first weekend of fixtures.
Moment to Forget: The last match of the season saw Wagga only needing a draw to avoid finishing in last place on the table. Their 3-2 defeat to FC Gazy saw them do a remarkable feat and go from first place on the table after one game to last placed after 18.
– By Ryan Latty