The Final Word ……………

The Final Word ……………

Posted on February 17, 2017 in 'News'

The new PS4NPLWA season kicks off on Sunday, with all three sides taking on Joondalup United in the inaugural Joondalup Derby. We sat down with the coaches to chat about the game and have their final word on the preparation and game.

Jacks head Coach Dale McCulloch said it’s always a big week leading into the opening game of a season, but with it being a Derby it’s more intense. “A massive weekend for football in the ‘City of Joondalup’ and we head into the Joondalup Derby full of confidence,” he said.

“The players are ready, they have worked bloody hard in pre-season and if there not up for a game like this we’ve got problems. To be fair they are chopping at the bit, training has been intense for the last two weeks, with spots up for grabs in the starting eleven.”

McCulloch said he’s hoping for a big turnout of Jacks supporters for the game. “It will be fantastic to see our supporters out in force for the game, it will be great occasion and we will be doing all we can to bring home the three points,” he said.

“They (JUFC) will be looking for a first up NPL win, and we know we have to be on our game from the first to the last whistle. We’ve left no stone unturned in our preparation and we can’t wait to get the season started with three points, and a good performance.”

McCulloch said with so many leaders in the side picking a captain has been a difficult choice. “We are really lucky to have so many leaders in the squad and we could have had selected four or five players to wear the armband, but we have selected Jon Higgins,” he said.

“He’s worked really hard to get back into the side and is a person the whole group respects, and we’re sure he will lead from the front. We have also added a leadership group of Gordon Smith, Rikki Smith and Ross Millard, the trio are quality players and people.”

The under 20’s start their campaign at 5.00pm and new coach Mark Scanlan said it’s a perfect start. “A derby is always exciting and to kick of the season with it means we’ve had a few weeks more than normal to prepare for it,” he explained.

“We’re looking forward to getting the season underway, the players have worked very hard in pre-season, so it’s good to start the competitive games. They (United) being promoted adds an extra bit of spice to it, they’re a bit of an unknown quality to us, so it should be interesting.”

Scanlan has been happy with the work ethic of his young side and said they are ready for a big season. “The thing that has impressed me most is the attitude of some of the younger players in the squad. They’ve shown that they’re here to compete for first team places,” he said.

“They’re here to improve as players, and we have a few chasing their dream of being a professional football. So it’s nice to work with the young lads who have fire in their belly, who aren’t just showing up to play 20’s this year, they want to play first team football.

Om a captain for the side Scanlan said he’s spoiled for choice. “The good thing about the squad is there are a few players who’ve captained the side before, but we have 5 or 6 leaders out there so to select a captain is a really headache for me, which I don’t mind having,” he said. “But regardless who wears the armband it’s a team effort at training and match days and we hope they all lead by example.”

The under 18’s kick it all off at 3.00pm and Coach Dean Pickering said he can’t wait. “Since meeting with the club and signing on to become the 18’s coach I have been looking forward to this weekend and fir it to be the ‘Joondalup Derby’ it makes it even more special for the players and I,” he said.

“This is a huge match and one we are ready for, it’s my first NPL game in charge with this club and I’m certainly ready for, and the players are pumped and ready to go.”

Pickering said the players have worked extremely hard in the pre-season and he said the new look 18’s have been superb. “It’s been a shortened pre-season from what we first expected, but nonetheless the players have all accepted and pushed themselves,” he explained.

“With a few friendlies under our belts and many weeks on the training track I couldn’t be more pleased with how the players have adapted to the playing style and come together in a team environment. They are a great bunch of lads to work with and I couldn’t have asked for a better group.”

The Coach has chosen Tom Hough to Captain the side in 2017, and he said he will do a good job. “He is an experienced player for the side and a player that all the lads look up to and respect,” he said. “He is a solid player in the middle of the park, and I will look to him along with other senior players in the team to really drive the lads and keep them focused and driven throughout the season.”