By Craig MacKenzie
PRE-SEASON preparations for the 25 March kick-off to the 2017 league season go into overdrive this month.
The highlight is the annual Steve Wallace Cup on Saturday 28 January, which will again be hosted by Mornington at its Dallas Brook’s Park headquarters.
The event commemorates the life of local soccer icon Stephen William Wallace who was 54 years old when he died on 19 July 2011 and was a former Langwarrin player, coach, president, life member, club council representative and Bayside League referee.
The charity event is a showcase for the local game and always draws a large crowd.
This year’s round-robin format involves 10 clubs in two groups with each team playing four group games of 15-minute halves and the top teams in each group playing off in the Grand Final.
The participating clubs are Mornington, Langwarrin, Casey Comets, South Springvale, Berwick City, Seaford United, Peninsula Strikers, Skye United, Rosebud Heart and Baxter.
On the transfer front Mornington has agreed terms with former star Simon Mur, who is due to return in mid-March from a two-year stint in England.
Mur scored 24 goals in the 2014 season and Mornington head coach Adam Jamieson is delighted to welcome back the pacy striker.
English imports Jack Truelove and Nathan Smith arrive on Wednesday 1 February and Jamieson has agreed terms with central midfielder Matthew Wade from Blyth Spartans in England’s Northern Premier League Premier Division.
The 24-year-old is a former South Shields, Washington and West Allotment Celtic player.
Striker Gino Defeo is trialling with Mornington. The 35-year-old has had stints with Port Melbourne, Brunswick City, Bulleen Lions, Clifton Hill, Diamond Valley United, Kingston City and Doncaster Rovers.
Brad Zealley has been confirmed as Mornington’s goalkeeping coach.
Teenage goalkeeping prodigy Cooper Bankes-Fay is likely to leave Mornington. He has been training with Bentleigh Greens and flies to the UK this week with the Australian schoolboys squad.
Frankston Pines start training for the upcoming season on Thursday and the club hopes to complete the capture of two young Mauritian internationals to join fellow Mauritian visa players Cedric Permal and Christopher L’Enclume at the Monterey Reserve outfit.
New vice-president Daniel Plaiche was awaiting confirmation of their signing this week before arranging visas and flights for the duo.
Skye United could sign five new players for its State 3 South-East campaign after its 2016 championship success.
Among those targeted by senior coach Billy Armour are two Brazilians and an accomplished striker.
“I can’t give you their names because I don’t want other clubs chasing them but the striker is a former Division One player and he could still play at that level although he’s been playing down the leagues lately,” said Armour.
Rosebud Heart expects big things from English recruit Will O’Brien, a central midfielder who played in the Bayside League last year and was on the books of Swaffham Town.
Defender Callum Richardson has rejoined after a season with Peninsula Strikers and big Chris Sibson has returned from Seaford United.
Senior coach Scott Morrison has retained all of last year’s squad.
Newly formed Somerville Eagles are hoping to hear from FFV this month that their application for membership of State 5 South has been successful.
The club is based at Somerville Secondary College and is backed by Ultra Fine Foods whose director Felix Arena is Eagles’ president.
“We just felt that there was an opportunity to establish a club in the broad Tyabb, Pearcedale, Somerville area and if FFV accepts our application we are likely to run around six sides this year,” said Arena.
Zach Peddersen is director of coaching.
Here are some pre-season schedules:
Saturday 14 January v Eastern Lions at Egan Lee Reserve, 1pm and 3pm; Saturday 21 January v Baxter at Baxter Park, 1pm and 3pm; Wednesday 25 January v Knox City at Egan Lee Reserve, 6pm and 7.30pm; Saturday 4 February v Mazenod at Mazenod College, 1pm and 3pm; Saturday 11 February v Sunbury at Langama Park, 1pm and 3pm; Saturday 18 February v Skye Utd at Lawton Park, 1pm and 3pm.
Sunday 15 January intraclub game at Centenary Park, 11am; Thursday 19 January intraclub game at Centenary Park, 7pm; Saturday 21 January v Knox at Centenary Park, 4pm and 6pm; Thursday 26 January intraclub game at Centenary Park, 7pm; Saturday 4 February and Sunday 5 February pre-season camp and game v Morwell Pegasus at Ronald Reserve (kick-off to be confirmed); Saturday 11 February v St Kilda at Centenary Park, 3pm and 5pm; Saturday 18 February v Beaumaris at Centenary Park, 4pm and 6pm; Thursday 23 February v Mornington at Centenary Park, 6.30pm and 7pm (two pitches in use).
Saturday 21 September v Casey Comets at Comets Stadium, K.O. to be confirmed; Sunday 5 February Chelsea Cup at Edithvale Recreation Reserve, K.O. to be confirmed.
Tuesday 31 January v Casey Comets at Comets Stadium, 7pm (seniors and reserves); Sunday 12 February v Chelsea at Edithvale Recreation Reserve, 1pm and 3pm; Saturday 18 February v Langwarrin at Lawton Park, 1pm and 3pm.
Wednesday 25 January v Casey Comets at Comets Stadium, 7.30pm; Sunday 12 February v Somerville Eagles at Somerville Secondary College, 1pm and 3pm; Saturday 18 February v Elwood at Somerville Secondary College, 1pm and 3pm; weekend of 11 March pre-season trip to Torquay, possible game v Surf Coast FC.
In other news former Frankston Pines president and life member John McPartlin, 75, died last week after a short illness.
McPartlin’s contribution to the local game and the trade union movement was immense.
Funeral arrangements were unavailable as we went to press.