As Community Football leagues across the State finally embark on their 2020 season, we take a look at how each league is shaping up, brought to you by Think! Road Safety.
The scene is set for an interesting season ahead for a strong North Eastern Football League.
By Nick Dillon
Despite losing two clubs ahead of the 2020 season, the North Eastern Football League, which kicked off on the weekend, is set to be strengthened from the withdrawal of neigbouring leagues.
The Southern Saints and BBH Rams elected not to play in 2021, but with no footy on the Yorke Peninsula this year, the NEFL has many players either coming home or joining the league for the first time.
“It’s going to be a very strong competition and anyone could win it,” said Mid North and Yorke Peninsula Football Operations Coordinator Simon Purdue.
“A couple of teams who were struggling to fill their B grade that now have full squads and the same in the colts too.”
With six teams remaining – South Clare, North Clare, Blyth-Snowtown, BSR, RSMU and Mintaro-Manoora – two full rounds will be played, meaning 10 matches for each club.
Round one commences this Saturday.
Even the league’s junior ranks are on the rise with a number of under-age players from the Yorke Peninsula FL making the trip to the Mid North.
Purdue believes North Clare and South Clare will strongly challenge last year’s premier Blyth-Snowtown in 2020 thanks to the influx of players to their clubs.
The grand final will be played on Saturday, September 26.
2019 finish: 1st
2020 coach: Lindsay Bassani
Blyth-Snowtown have brought in Giles Ellis from Kadina who played state country last year.
Inaugural GWS list member Josh Growden is back on the farm at Snowtown after pursuing a punting career in the United States. This will be his first senior season with the Cats.
However, Mail Medallist Caleb Lloyd will not be there, nor the Giles brothers – Ash, Cameron and David.
The Cats also have a new coach, with Lindsay Bassani taking the reins from premiership coaches Ryan Darling and Gareth Ottens.
2019 finish: 2nd
2020 coach: Liam Whitwell
BSR will be hoping to go one better in 2020 after narrowly missing out on a hat-trick of premierships last year.
Coach Liam Whitwell will have to do so without the services of 2016 Mail Medallist Sam Heinjus, who has joined Waybacks in the Port Lincoln Football League.
But his brother Joe is back from Woodville-West Torrens, along with Cooper Hayes and his brother Luke from Pinnaroo.
Will Hennessy also returns from a knee injury.
2019 finish: 3rd
2020 coach: Scott Brand
South Clare are set to field a strong side, picking up Lachy Michael from Balaklava, who would be a top three player in the Adelaide Plains Football League.
The Demons have also snared ruckman Shaun Light, who was best afield for Hummocks-Watchman in their grand final win last year.
Both are former premiership players at South.
Nathan Allan has also returned to join his brother Matty, along with former Norwood reserves play Tom Charlton.
Scott Brand will coach the Demons in 2020.
2019 finish: 4th
2020 coach: Jackson O’Brien
The Roosters are one of the big beneficiaries of the YPFL abandoning their season, with seven players joining the club from Paskeville.
Sam Sanders, Alistair Price, Ayden Smith and Luke Harrop are among those joining from Paskeville, while a further five will join the club from Kadina, including Lachlan Boothey.
Fitting them all in under the APPS will be the challenge for new coach Jackson O’Brien.
He will also be hoping Sanders replace outgoing full forward Nick Prokopec, who kicked 64 goals to win the league goal kicking last year.
Sanders kicked 65 himself in the YPFL to win their award.
2019 finish: 5th
2020 coach: Levi Krause
RSMU will be hoping to return to finals this year after a rare miss in 2019.
The Hawks have picked up Sam Roads from Hummocks-Watchman, with that club out of action in 2020, and Harry Slee from Meningie.
Tom Connell returns to the club from Pinnaroo, bringing with him the exciting Micah Vanloon.
Vanloon was one of the best players in the Mallee last year before an injury interrupted his season.
Mannum’s Levi Krause has come to the club as a player coach and has them up and about at the moment.
2019 finish: 8th
2020 coach: Jake Nicholls
Southern Eagles star Mathew Barlow is one of a number of key recruits for Mintaro-Manoora this year.
Kadina’s Fraser Ellis has also joined the Eagles and will play against his brother Giles at Blyth-Snowtown.
Ashley Winders and veteran Ryan McDermid, who won the 2007 Mail Medal, are both back for Min-Man.
After a number of years towards the bottom of the table, the Eagles might be on the rise again under coach Jake Nicholls.
Rd 1 – July 4
North Clare v Blyth-Snowtown; RSMU v South Clare; Min-Man v BSR
Rd 2 – July 11
Blyth-Snowtown v Min-Man; BSR v RSMU; South Clare v North Clare
Rd 3 – July 18
Blyth-Snowtown v BSR; North Clare v RSMU; Min-Man v South Clare
Rd 4 – July 25
BSR v North Clare; South Clare v Blyth-Snowtown; RSMU v Min-Man
Rd 5 – August 1
RSMU v Blyth-Snowtown; South Clare v BSR; Min-Man v North Clare
Rd 6 – August 8
Blyth-Snowtown v North Clare; BSR v Min-Man; South Clare v RSMU
Rd 7 – August 15
Blyth-Snowtown v South Clare; North Clare v BSR; Min-Man v RSMU
Rd 8 – August 22
South Clare v Min-Man; BSR v Blyth-Snowtown; RSMU v North Clare
Rd 9 – August 29
RSMU v BSR; North Clare v South Clare; Min-Man v Blyth-Snowtown
Rd 10 – September 5
Blyth-Snowtown v RSMU; North Clare v Min-Man; BSR v South Clare
SECOND SEMI-FINAL – September 12 @ Redhill
FIRST SEMI-FINAL – September 13 @ Snowtown
PRELIMINARY FINAL – September 19 @ Riverton
GRAND FINAL – September 26 @ Clare