The powerhouse Newcastle clubs might have thought they’d been saved by NSW Health coronavirus restrictions when the North Coast 16s were shut out of the National Premier League.
But news just in – ding-dong the witch ain’t dead, not by a long shot.
An easing of restrictions will see the North Coast lads resume their place in the NPL, and a chance to chase history, and their-story.
This team has won the NPL as 13s, 14s, 15s and now has a chance to chase four-of-a-kind.
“Going for their fourth title, it’s pretty special. I don’t know if it’s been done very often, if ever,” North Coast Football Technical Director Jack Dover said.
The North Coast 13s, 14s, 15s and 16s teams were shut out of the NPL by the regional COVID-19 rules. The saving grace for the 16s saw them able to enjoy competition in the rejigged CPL North Conference senior men’s competition.
And they gave as good as they got, relishing the contest, while arbitarily being awarded a ‘draw’ in the NPL irrespective of their results.
“So we’re back and the 16s will now be fighting for a place in the final series,” Jack said.
That will send a shudder up the southerners, as North Coast hadn’t lost a game before being shut out.
The boys have eight regular-season matches to go, starting with a double-header – on Saturday against Maitland FC and then Monday versus Football Mid North Coast, both at Leisure Park at Coffs Harbour.
“This will be their last hurrah,” Jack said of the 16s.
The experience of matching the senior men in the CPL North ‘bubble’ has nurtured further development for a talented bunch.
Any expectation that they’d shy from the physical contest against hardened bodies was quickly shot down.
“They are very aggressive and the team was excited by the challenge,” Jack said.
“It’s been massive for their development (playing in the CPL). They’re fitter and stronger and back in the CPL they’ll do well if they keep their standards.”
Their effort also earned praise from the senior teams: “Just like to thank NCF and Jack for the competitive team that played in the senior ranks this past few months,” said Glen Williams, Coach of the 2020 CPL Premiership winning Coffs United said.
“It was great to gauge where the young lads are up to and they have a bright future in my opinion.”
Despite the toil of seven games in just over a month in the CPL, Jack believes the boys are primed to rejoin the NPL.
“We’ve managed their training loads and they’ll be good to go,” he said.
Sorry, Newcastle, but in the words of General MacArthur, they were always going to return.
Or more aptly, as the Terminator once dead-panned: “I’ll be back”.