Wednesday, 19 August 2015

SEASON REVIEW: Belmont-Swansea United (6th)

1st Grade:

2014 Semi Finalists Belmont-Swansea got their 2015 season off to a pretty poor start in the FFA Cup as they were stunned in a 1-0 loss to nearby neighbours, Zone Premier League outfit Swansea F.C. It certainly wasn't what the Belswans would have been planning for in the opening round of the knockout competition.

Needless to say, attention would turn to the New-FM competition and unlike Toronto who couldn't bounce back from their poor FFA Cup exit, the Belswans got right back on the horse as to speak and recorded a gutsy 1-0 win over Thornton Redbacks in Round 1 through a Curtis Schumann goal.

Round 2 brought a mystery opponent to Blacksmiths in the form of New-FM newcomers Kahibah F.C and the Belswans produced the goods again, a tight 1-0 win via a goal from Jamie Hadlow. Two 1-0 wins and the Belswans found themselves in the top four after the opening fortnight of the season.

Next up was a much-more convincing display in front of goals as Belmont-Swansea smashed four past lowly Toronto-Awaba and if memory serves me correctly, that result took Belswans to the top of the New-Fm table after the opening three weeks.

Photo: P.Arandale (

Belswans were one of the in-form teams after the first few games but the problem for them is so where their Round 4 opponents, West Wallsend. A goal to Kyle Wilson wasn't enough to stop the Bluebells from recording a 4-1 win over the Belswans.

A special Easter Friday match saw Belmont-Swansea travel to promotion-favourites Lake Macquarie City and the visitors were unable to get anything out of that match, falling 2-0 to Lakes. 

Round 6 saw former NPL man Mick Stafford return from a Round 1 injury and unfortunately the 'Big Staf' as he's known was unable to overcome the injury and was forced into an untimely retirement which I've been told affected the club in a big way. The 1-0 loss to out-of-form Cessnock didn't help either.

A week off for the bye was followed by a gutsy 2-1 loss to Wallsend and the same can be said about the club's 1-0 loss to Cooks Hill. That Cookers match was the only game I saw at Blacksmiths this season and the Belswans were incredibly unlucky not to get anything out of it. It was a recurring theme, luck left Belswans behind a lot this season.

One day Belswans found a lot of luck was when they committed highway robbery at Thornton Park and produced two late goals through Joel Shearer and Jamie Hadlow to stun the Redbacks and get back in the winners' circle after a tough few weeks. There's no doubting the rendition of 'Belswans Boys Are Happy' would have been loud that day.

A 2-2 draw against Kahibah was a decent result on the road and it was followed by what was in my opinion Belmont-Swansea's biggest win of the season, downing eventual promotion-winners Valentine. Goals to Tim Schultz, Joel Shearer and Josh Sutton handed the Phoenix their first loss of 2015 on a cold night at Cahill Oval.

I'm told the return of Shane Paul from work commitments helped the club a lot and he got his name on the scoresheet when they beat Toronto-Awaba 2-1 in Round 14. Joining Paul on the scoresheet was Matt Cook.

Belmont to Singleton is the longest away trip in the New-FM league and the Belswans had to make that trip on a cold Wednesday night in mid June. Lucas Glanz and Josh Sutton produced goals but the Belswans couldn't get past Singo in a nervy 2-2 draw.

A home game against Lake Macquarie City saw Belmont-Swansea put up one hell of a fight, only to fall crucially short of gaining a point. Luke Shearer, Shane Paul and Joel Shearer were goalscorers but Lakes would hang on for a 4-3 victory over a heartbroken Belswans outfit.

It wouldn't take long for Belswans to return to the winners' circle as they produced an impressive 2-1 away win at The Gardens to stun Wallsend. Tim Schultz and Lucas Glanz were the goalscorers as the visitors picked up a crucial win for their finals hopes.

After downing Wallsend, a home game against West Wallsend saw Belmont-Swansea produce their biggest scoreline of the season. Jamie Hadlow scored an amazing four goals whilst Tim Schultz and Luke Shearer added to an impressive scoresheet.

The Belswans Boys Are Happy! (v West Wallsend) Photo: Belswans Facebook Page

Finals were looking a real possibility but a second disappointing result of the season against Cessnock City hindered their chances. Despite a goal from Jamie Hadlow (his fifth in two games!) the Belswans could only draw 1-1 with the Hornets.

Returning from a Round 19 bye, the Belswans would hang on for a big win against Cooks Hill United in Round 20. Goals from Shane Paul and Josh Sutton secured the win and put Belswans into prime position to steal a finals spot from an out-of-form Kahibah side.

The penultimate game of the season was a do-or-die game against promotion-hopefuls Valentine. Belswans put in a hell of a performance in front of their biggest home crowd of the season but fell to Valentine as the visitors clinched promotion back to the NPL. It was curtains for Belswans' finals hopes but not after a proud fight through thick and thin.

Hosting Thornton on the final day, Belmont-Swansea would secure a 1-0 win through a goal from Joel Shearer and wrap up their season with a win but a bit of disappointment that they weren't able to make the finals in their 80th anniversary.

The club has told me that consistency let them down a little as well as luck, both on-field and off-field with injuries costing them in a couple of games. To their credit, apart from a 4-1 loss to West Wallsend, Belswans were never once beaten heavily this season and were always in every match right up to the final whistle, win, lose or draw.

Photo: Belswans Facebook Page


Key Players:

The club have given me a couple of players to mention in this section. Shane Paul was an obvious standout after his return to action in Round 12 and played a big part in the team's success across the second half of the season. Throughout the whole season though, standouts would have to be Joel Shearer, who was outstanding this year and bagged a few goals.

Jarrod Noon had a strong season at left back after being promoted to the top grade from the Under 23's matchday squad. Another standout was Jamie Hadlow who's goal tally this year has helped Belmont-Swansea and his four goal haul against West Wallsend definitely goes down as one of the best performances of the season.


Young Stars:

Joshua Sutton has been given the nod by the club as their best young player after stepping up into 1st Grade from the Under 19's last season. He's chipped in with a few goals this season, including the winner when Belswans beat Cooks Hill 2-1 in Round 20.

Under 19's midfielder Matt Ellis has been a standout in that grade and has been rewarded with a few 23's appearances this season. 17's goalkeeper Connor Bryson has also been one of the club's best young stars and looks like one for the future at Blacksmiths.


Full Results:


Under 23's Wrap-Up:

The Under 23 Belswans' started the season slowly and momentum never really got going for them. The club admitted that the team were disappointed in their 7th-placed finish and were hoping for a lot more than that. 

Standout results include a 2-2 with Lakes where goals from Heath Lukas and Phil Tassicker helped the Belswans secure a draw with a team that are now well on their way to a Grand Final appearance. The final result of the season was a good one as well as a goal from Luke Warzecha helped Belmont-Swansea to a 1-0 win over top four side Thornton.

I've been told standout players included inspiration captain Robbie Cordwell who led the team admirably and always gave 110% to the badge. Young gun Brad Burns is another that they club through showed improvement during the season since arriving at the beginning of the year and they're expecting he'll play a big part in their chances of success in 2016.

All in all, it was a tough season for the Belswans in this grade but one that showed potential was there. With quality youngsters coming up through the 19's, this team will no doubt improve in season's to come.  

Photo: Belswans Facebook Page


Under 19's Wrap-Up:

The 19's were the only Belswans team to make the finals and as I write this, they are on the verge of exit after a 3-1 home leg loss on the weekend to Lakes. Credit has to go to this side though as for the majority of the season, they've been one of the best, if not the best team in the 19's. I remember watching their 4-1 win over Cooks Hill and they were superb that day and really entertaining to watch.

No game stands out more than their 2-1 victory over Valentine in a mid-season top of the table clash at Croudace Bay. Goals to Joshua Anstess and Aidan Hampton helped the Belswans take the top spot on the table after a hard-fought win in that catch-up game.

Other standouts include the 11-1 demolishing of a very depleted Cessnock City side. Belswans showed no mercy and built on a 6-1 lead at half-time with five more in the second stanza. The Belswans entered the finals with confidence as well after a 7-1 smashing of Thornton. Four goals to Chris O'Callaghan and one each to Bienvenne Simba, Matt Ellis and Luke Lethbridge secured a big win.

The club have given me a few names to mention here. Captain Jimmy Youngberry was a standout this season as were Mitch Maxton, Aidan Hampton and Odin Buckley. An injury to regular 19's keeper Kurt Hodson meant that 17's stopper Connor Bryson was required to play back-to-back games nearly every week and he did a great job of filling the void. 

Player of the Year for the 19's I'm told is Matt Ellis. I personally thought he was one of Belswans best last week against Lakes and his goal was probably the best across the four games that day. The fact he has been a standout in the 19's is made more impressive by the fact that he's still only 17.

Despite what happens on Sunday in the Semi Final 2nd leg, I think the Belswans 19's can consider this season a big success and I think 2016 will bring continual success for the Belswans boys. 

Photo: Belswans Facebook Page


Under 17's Wrap-Up:

It was a quality year for the Belswans 17's in their first real season of higher-grade football and as a team they improved as the season went on but consistency cost them a potential finals opportunity. Scoring goals wasn't a problem but defensively work had to be done and it was throughout the year. Only one player isn't able to play in the 17's next season so I'd consider the Belswans boys as a real chance for success in 2016.

Standout games include the 9-0 smashing of a depleted Cessnock side. Sure the Hornets were down on players but Belswans showed no remorse as you can't at this level. A 4-2 victory over West Wallsend and doing the double over top four side Cooks Hill show this team is capable of results. Just two weeks ago, they put six past Valentine as doubles to Rory Maddison and Joel Nicholson was added to by goals to Ned Gain and Arch Johnson.

These boys can also look back on a 2-2 draw with Lake Macquarie City as a good result for the team. Some say they should have won and Lakes only got back into that match from the penalty spot but a brace to Arch Johnson meant the Belswans were able to end Lakes' incredible winning streak.

The club have told me than Joel Nicholson was superb up front all season and was the club's top goalscorer in any New-FM grade. Special mentions also need to go to 17's captain Ned Gain, Rory Maddison and Jacob Muir who I've been told has shown great improvement over the year. As mentioned, the majority of this team will be together next year and they'll definitely be a title threat in my opinion.

Photo: Belswans Facebook Page

Keys To The Future:

From the outside looking in, Belswans looks like a really stable New-FM club and the players there are really committed to the club and the way the club play football. I think the club has its own style of football and really defend well and play as a unit. Hard to describe but from 1sts to 17s, Belswans looks as a united group of players and there's a lot of positive vibes at Blacksmiths Oval.

Blacksmiths Oval (v Valentine) Photo: Belswans Facebook Page

Keeping the club's best players will be key and promoting the younger stars of the club will be crucial for depth. The club were struck by a couple of injuries after a decent start to the 2015 season and I think with luck on their side and a good pre-season under their belts, Belswans can find success in 2016.

Thanks to Belswans secretary Brad Paul for his incredibly helpful insight to the club's season and well wishes for the off-season and beyond. And good luck to the 19's for their return leg against Lake Macquarie City on Sunday!

The Belswans Boys Are Happy!

-Ty Stedman

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