After doing constant previews and reviews for the last few weeks, I'm going to mix it up a little and write a piece on Wallsend's season so far and the club's direction in general. Remember I don't play for Wallsend nor do I know any of the people there personally. Just an outsider view I guess.
I didn't really know what to expect from the three promoted teams this season. It's certainly been a good year for all three sides but Wallsend at the moment is the standout of the bunch. Top of the table with just over half a season behind us. Who saw that coming from a club that lost their first two games of the season.
In fact, quickly on those two lost games in Round 1 (2-1 loss to Valentine) and Round 2 (9-4 loss to Lakes). Wallsend were fresh into the New-FM 1st Division and were forced to play the two favourites for the title in the opening two rounds. If they'd had drawn maybe a Toronto or a Cessnock or even Singleton, and this is with all due respect to those clubs, they may have been unbeaten in 2015. That's how good this year is going for the Red Devils.
I've heard a couple of complaints that they've only hit that success due to their recruitment of former NPL players, including David Hodgson and Chris Gazzard. Now some clubs will argue that Wallsend have just 'bought' good players to fill the ranks. I disagree. This is ambition. Ambition to succeed and move back into the top flight of football in Northern NSW. It's how it's done.
The Red Devils have a very decent venue at the Gardens and with one or two upgrades, they could have one of the best grounds in town. Obviously the greyhound track poses a visual turn-off but at the end of the day, you have to deal with what you're given.
The big selling point for Wallsend in my opinion is written on the back of each and every club jersey and jacket. It says "1887". The Red Devils were founded in 1887. Just think about that for a second. That's 128 years of history. Amazing!
The club is steeped in tradition from then until now. 12 premierships across a few different decades in the 20th century. Sure they haven't won a first grade premiership in half a century or so but the recent resurgence is a sign of better things to come.
Based on the game I saw last weekend, it's fairly easy to call Wallsend one of the better sides in the New-FM 1st Division. Nine straight victories sees the Red Devils atop the table where only promotion regulations will stop them from re-entering the top flight of Northern NSW football.
I'm not too certain of the upgrade requirements at the Gardens but if the Red Devils can get that sorted out, it's only a matter of time before their ultimate goal is realized. This is a club that I believe can play National Premier Leagues football. The set-up they're creating says it all.
A big junior base, a decent ground and a good partnership with the community, I think Wallsend have what it takes to find success in the New-FM league and perhaps even higher than that in the next few years.
Note that this may come across as 'ass-kissing' for a lack of a better term but in all honesty, I'd like to see some of the other New-FM sides take some of Wallsend's stuff on board. The style they played on the weekend was very entertaining at times and even right down to little details like the whole team showing up in formal suits says a lot about the professionalism and ambition this club has. They pride themselves on the red and white.
It's damn good to see one of the most historic clubs in town find some success this season and long may it continue.