AS the start of the Shoalhaven Senior Football Competition is once again upon us it may be timely to preview your club’s hopes and chances for the season ahead. There will be eight teams fighting for a top four spot this year after Sussex Inlet, Milton and Gerringong all failed to enter a side.
On the plus side the 2011 premiers Manyana have returned to the competition after a year in the wilderness.
There are new coaches at five of the clubs and there has been the usual merry go round when it comes to players.
It appears most clubs have juniors coming through which is the unknown factor. But an overall look at all the teams indicates it could be another closely fought season.
The views below are only one person’s opinion and as it appears several coaches have not included all their losses and gains these predictions could very well be proved wrong as the season progresses.
CULBURRA are the reigning premiers and they will be determined to take out the double this year.
You always know when Tony Gauci returns to coach that the Cougars will be strong.
It appears as though every one of the premiership squad will return including Corey Ryan.
The acquisition of Jack Miller and Mitchell Blundell will only strengthen what is already the best playing squad in the competition.
The likes of Steve Gray, Jayden Witt, Aaron Mason, Dale Blundell and Keiran Witt are all expected to feature.
Gauci has the team to beat and will be disappointed if they are not challenging for the top spot at the pointy end of the season.
UNITED were the surprise competition champions last year but their substantial loss of playing strength will make it near impossible to repeat that effort. Coach Trevor Skingle is realistic in his expectations for the year and knows it will be hard to replace the likes of Kaine Good, Jason Button, Alex Dicker, Kris Brant, Ryan Miller and Allan Potter.
Goal scoring could be a problem as the guys that have left scored 60 per cent of the teams’ goals last year and how Skingle and his assistant Matt Parker cover this could determine the success of their season.
On the plus side Dean Atkinson, Jesse Fenn-Lavington and Chris Button have all returned to the club which should assist to cover the losses.
The usual suspects of Matt Fuz, Dale Baxter, Shane Button, Matt Lewis and Shaun Aldous are all back on deck and if they are at their best each week they may be in the fight for fourth spot.
ILLAROO started last season as favourites but it took until the last round of the year for them to sneak into fourth position.
This was the second year in a row they entered the finals this way – both with a win over United.
Coach Andrew Timbs will not want to leave it that late this year.
The loss of Joe Hockey and John Muggleton will not be insignificant, but with the likes of Evan Leedham, Brett Martin, Aaron Crittenden, Trent Bray and Dan Leedham in their squad they should be there when the whips are cracking.
There is no doubt they will be fighting it out with several other sides for a top four finish.
HUSKISSON probably ended up being the under achievers last year after leading the competition mid-way through the year to eventually miss the finals.
Ian Osterloh takes over the coaching role from Sam Tooley and will be keen to achieve something Tooley was unable to.
The loss of Jordan Godley and Gary Masterson will be hard to cover, but the return of Sam Boardman and Sam Duffy will go some way toward it.
If Gary Neimier, Jake Malligan, Oliver Boserio and Josh Fuz are all on deck they are still sure to be a competitive outfit.
They are a definite top four chance if their best 11 can stay fit.
BOMADERRY were competition champions in 2011 and 2012 but failed to make the finals last year.
Doug Foley has taken over as coach after a successful stint by Nathan Aldridge. The loss of Dale Russell and Scott Fagerlund will be significant and if Dave Hampton and Nathan Aldridge don’t play, Foley’s return to the coaching ranks could be rocky.
He still has the services of Cameron Nelson, Daniel Frew, Ben Foley, Matt Kellett, Mitch Cornell and Blake Munilla, who are all quality players.
The loss of playing strength will certainly affect the side and Foley will need to keep his best line up on the paddock to compete for a top four finish.
SHOALHAVEN Heads have now missed the finals two years in a row but new coach Ross Tasker will be looking to turn this around.
While Jack Miller has left the club, he missed a fair bit of top grade football last year anyway.
Tasker played at the club when they were winning premierships and has a great football brain so if anyone can get the best from the side he should be able to. If the likes of Ian Martin, Thomas Simnadis, Connor Edenden, Liam Sulley, Tim White and Roy Miller are all still at the club, they are sure to be fighting it out with several other sides for a top four finish.
St Georges Basin
SCOTT Aldridge has returned to coach Basin and will be looking to improve on last year’s results.
Aldridge has the majority of last year’s line up back on deck but will miss Jordan Thorncroft and Jesse Aldridge.
The return of Adam Moore and George Habberley is a bonus and will help guide the young team around the park.
Aldridge is a fantastic coach and if anyone can get the best out of a bunch of youngsters he can.
However, it probably won’t be enough to finish out of the bottom half of the competition.
MANYANA have returned to the competition after a year off.
If reports are correct they will have the majority of their 2011 premiership side back on board together with the Daley brothers from Sussex.
Despite Manyana not taking part in the competition last year, the majority of their players played at Sussex.
The likes of Mitch Butel, Brandon Perosh, Billy Zappas, Mark Dixon, Brian Malley and Nathan Butwell are all quality players and are sure to make a mark on the competition.
Matt Tooley has taken on the coaching role and has a squad of players capable of winning the competition, and along with Culburra, can be considered favourites to finish at the top come season’s end.