I thought I'd start keeping a better eye on the 2nd-tier of football here in Newcastle which of course if the New-FM 1st Division. The club I play for, Cooks Hill United, have made the move up to the New-FM competition for the first time in their 18 year history and will host the Cessnock City Hornets in the competitions' opening game.
I'll admit I don't know as much about this competition as I do with the NPL but I'll give it a good shot and start learning as I go. Here are my tips for Week 1.
Game 1: Cooks Hill v Cessnock City (Sat 7 Mar 2:30pm)
I'll be heading to my first ever New-FM game tomorrow after my first trial match for the season. Obviously I'll be there to support my club as they take the step up to the 2nd tier of Newcastle football. Cessnock are the favourites and I can't say I've kept track of their trials form. I do know Cooks Hill haven't set the world alight during the pre-season but will surely be up for the challenge. Head says Cessnock but heart says Cooks Hill.
My Tip: Cooks Hill United Win
Game 2: Belmont-Swansea v Singleton (Sat 7 Mar 4:00pm)
Belswans are a side that I've seen play a couple years ago in the state cup and they have been one of the more successful teams in the New-FM division over the last few years. Their start to this season saw them crash out of the FFA Cup to Zone Premier League side Swansea FC and I can see them struggling against a Singleton side that put double digits past Muswellbrook FC in the FFA Cup.
That being said I can also see Belmont-Swansea overcoming the struggle so I'm tipping a draw for this one.
My Tip: Belmont-Swansea Win
Game 3: West Wallsend v Kahibah FC (Sun 8 Mar 2:30pm)
One of the oldest football clubs in Australia is West Wallsend and the Bluebells have been through the dumps over the last couple of years. They had a mass exodus and struggled to even field a team last year. They would find enough players but disappointingly finished dead last after a horror season.
Kahibah are another new team to the New-FM division and have apparently boosted their ranks greatly over the off-season. I can see the Green and Black stripes shocking a few teams in the division this season and I think they'll get the better of West Wallsend on Sunday.
My Tip: Kahibah F.C Win
Game 4: Lake Macquarie City v Toronto-Awaba (Sun 8 Mar 2:30pm)
A west-Lake Macquarie derby will see the Roosters take on the Stags at Speers Point. This game should get a bit of a crowd and the two sides will be keen to start the season in style.
Lakes dropped out of the NPL last season and not many would be surprised to see them jump straight back up this campaign. I can see them overcoming a Toronto-Awaba side that were shocked by Jesmond in the FFA Cup a couple of weeks ago.
My Tip: Lake Macquarie City Win
Game 5: Valentine F.C v Wallsend F.C (Sun 8 Mar 3:30pm)
Valentine are the red-hot favourites to take out the New-FM division this season and will take on newcomers Wallsend F.C at Baxter Field this Sunday. Wallsend have boosted their squad with the additions of former Hamilton skipper David Hodgson and Chris Gazzard (South Cardiff) but I think they'll struggle against the promotion favourites. Phoenix for the win from me.
My Tip: Valentine F.C Win