I’ve never made predictions and I never will – Paul Gascoigne
There’s a magical few days left before the season starts – days in which supporters unfold the possibilities of a summer of football in their head. Perhaps this could be their year, maybe this will be the season their dominance ends, possibly we won’t finish rock bottom of the bloody table.
Once Auckland City and Waitakere United kick off on Sunday at 3pm, possibilities begin to collapse, leaving reality – grim and unrelenting. But that hasn’t stopped some of the ITBOTN writers having their reckons on where we’ll be in April. We’ll come back to them then, to show how precognisant or bloody awful we were at guessing.
Regular Season Winners: Eastern Suburbs. From what I hear their squad is very strong, they look sharp, they have the resources to compete and they have me writing programme columns for them so they must be all class.
Playoffs: Auckland City, Team Wellington and Wanderers to sneak in there because I’m an eternal optimist.
Champions: Auckland City to get the job done when it counts. Last year was an aberration.
Surprise Team: Tasman will fight for a playoff spot to the end.
Wooden Spoon: Southern United. I haven’t seen anything to suggest they won’t struggle again.
Player Most Likely To Get A Pro Deal: Damian Hirst was a good enough keeper to relegate Danny Robinson to the bench at Birko and was one of the stars of the cup final. Got a fine pedigree so a big summer at Wanderers could set him up for something either here or overseas.
Rod De Lisle
Regular Season Winners: Auckland City. They are the rich kids. How can you not back a team that serves Lobster Thermidor and French champagne at half time – to the players?
Champions: Wellington again. Auckland surprisingly hampered by gout at finals time.
Surprise Team: Hamilton Wanderers (I’m shocked – Ed.). Top 4 would be a fantastic result and must surely be the big fat target for Cossey and his troops.
Wooden Spoon: Southern, don’t know their team but surely unlikely to attract mercenary players from warm climates?
Player Most Likely To Get A Pro Deal: Bailey Webster. If he focuses on discipline and works on his total game he is unstoppable.
The Chad Coombes Award For The Dirtiest Team: Hmm no comment.
Regular Season Winners: Auckland City, although the three way race with Suburbs and TeeDubs will be tight.
Playoffs: Team Wellington, Eastern Suburbs and Canterbury. Be nice to have a little geographic spread.
Champions: City. It’s a #GridlockDerby final against Suburbs.
Surprise Team: Southern ‘Wexford Boys’ United. Can see them picking up a win or two in the competition this year.
Wooden Spoon: Weenix. They’ll impress, and no doubt score a bucketload of goals. But their defence will let them down. Sorry boys.
Player Most Likely To Get A Pro Deal: Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi. A season learning from Riera will do him the world of good.
The Chad Coombes Award For The Dirtiest Team: Ramon wants his title back. Gloves off. Boots on. City. Watch out.
Regular Season Winners: Team Wellington. Just because.
Playoffs: Auckland, Eastern Suburbs and Canterbury. Be nice to have a little geographic spread.
Champions: Team Wellington. More convincingly, but with more controversy than last time.
Surprise Team: Tasman. But they won’t travel well, so miss out on playoffs.
Wooden Spoon: Southern. Unless the Phoenix get smashed with injuries again, in which case Weenix.
Player Most Likely To Get A Pro Deal: Do Sarpreet Singh and Jack-Henry Sinclair count?Apart from that, Cam Howieson to do very well and get picked up by the Nix.
The Chad Coombes Award For The Dirtiest Team: HBU. Because of what was coming out of the changing rooms at Newtown last year. Though that might have been WaiBOP.
Regular Season Winners: TeeDubs. Have re-signed some key influencers from last season plus some new blood.
Playoffs: Eastern Suburbs, TeeDubs, ACFC
Champions: TeeDubs. My home team bias playing up here but I can see ’em pushing it again. Exciting to see José take the reins.
Surprise Team: Tasman. Would love to see them get up and push for playoffs. Might just be the Ifill factor for me.
Wooden Spoon: Southern or WeeNix. I don’t know much about Southern but they haven’t inspired me from what I have seen.
The Chad Coombes Award For The Dirtiest Team: Whatever team Tinsley is playing for. Ick!
Regular Season Winners: TW (as ACFC might have their usual World Club Cup distraction and drop points)
Playoffs: TW, ACFC, Dragons, Eastern Subs
Surprise Team: Southern might get a couple of wins when not expected, so won’t finish bottom, how the points go vs Tasman and Weenix will be key
Wooden Spoon: WeeNix
Player Most Likely To Get A Pro Deal: Cameron Lindsay (Tasman) has joined to get regular game time to try to get a pro-contract somewhere after that
The Chad Coombes Award For The Dirtiest Team: Waitakere (someone has to mention them for something).
Categories: NZ Men's National League
John Palethorpe lives in South Auckland which is very far away from Fratton Park and Champion Hill. Having been told there was no football in New Zealand, he was delighted to find that there is.