“ANTI-SEMITISM IN FOOTBALL – HOW SERIOUS IS IT NOW?”
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The reigning champions North London Raiders A brought in a new manager over the summer in Daniel Shafron. He says: “Our aim is to build on our success over the last couple of seasons. We know that it will be a huge task with several clubs looking to stop us from becoming champions again, however I’ve joined North London Raiders to help bring more silverware to the club and we are all looking forward to the challenge.
One of the major signings of the summer has surely been David Garbacz agreeing to return as manager of Hendon United A. He said: “Our number one aim is to regain the league title. There is no way I would have returned as manager if I wasn’t sure we could give the title an all-out assault. This is not an overly ambitious target – we will all genuinely be disappointed with anything less than a title winner’s medal. Obviously we will give the cups a good go as well – another Peter Morrison win would be nice.”
Having endured another typical ‘useless’ Hendon pre-season, he says: “We’re notoriously useless in pre-season. The whole squad is either in Netanya or Tel Aviv beach and it’s practically impossible to get decent teams out for pre-season matches. Hopefully that will not be a factor once the season starts as we have to get off to a quick start. Last year we lost big points in the first few games and were playing catch up all year.”
Saying they’ll be extremely strong in the centre of midfield with the addition of Yoav Lebens and Rocky Spitzer to go with Ari Last Avi Korman, Rafi Kon and Yoav Kestenbaum, he says: “the competition for places in that area will be immense, we won’t be out-battled by anyone – that’s for sure.”
Bringing in names, as well as losing a few others, he adds: “For me the players to look out for this year are new signing Yehuda Korman, back from two years in Israel, who together with his brother Avi will be big players for us this year. I’m also expecting Zac Lewis to kick on from last year and produce his huge talent on a more consistent basis.”
Redbridge A manager Jon Jacobs says his side will be challenging for the title, saying: “We’re good enough on our day to beat anyone, we just need to be consistent.”
Saying their strength is the depth and harmony of the squad, along with pace all over the pitch and with substitutes that can make a difference in a game, Dean Nyman will enjoy one last swansong up front, while they’ve brought in Zak Neiman from Scrabble, Daryl Rubin, Russell Goldstein, Nate Kashkett and Sam McCarthy.
Camden Park manager Max Saunders says he’s hoping to bring a change of attitude at the club. He says: “Every year we start the season with a large and enthusiastic squad and by December we struggle to get 11 for a game. As the new manager I’m hoping to change that. If I do manage to change that, anything is possible. Our ambition is to win the league and why not, we have the talent.”
Saying pre-season has been a mixed bag, plagued by holidays, he says: “There have been some very good performances, but due to people being away it has been hard to get a rhythm going. Overall I am pleased and very optimistic about what I have seen.”
Adding a few players to the squad, he says: “We’ve always had a very strong 11, but as we all know that means nothing in Jewish football as you rarely get your strongest 11 on the pitch at the same time.
“This year we’ve really added to our team and squad and now we have strength in depth. I would say that is our strength this season, our squad.”
FC Team A player-manager Mitch Young says his side are going out to win in every game they take part in. He says: “We’re not in this division to make up the numbers and feel with our attacking quality we can score goals against anyone in the division. I believe this season’s competitions will be the most open it has ever been and we’re training hard ready to compete. We’ve upped our game from previous seasons, are training midweek and have made some marquee signings.
“Having taken over the ‘A’ Team again, I’m very much determined to win a major piece of silverware for the club. We’ve won every title in the lower leagues including the Minor Cup but now it’s time for FC Team to win a big one. The squad will be made up of my squad from last season including some big signings, Michael Pearson,
Andrei Grayson, Ed Bloom and Ben Binder, and good luck to anyone trying to deal with out front three of Salmon, Pearson & Binder. However I would highlight midfielder Andrei Grayson to be a hero bossing the midfield area and of course Ed Bloom between the sticks is arguably the best goalkeeper in the league so he will be massive for us.”
With pre-season having gone well, he adds: “We’ll bring attacking direct football with a will to win and hunger to achieve.”
Maccabi London Lions A’s Joel Alterman says his side believe they have the ability to challenge on all fronts this season. He says: “All our player business is now done and we’re all very excited by our new signings.
SPEC player-manager Ricky Lawrence is hoping his side can avoid relegation this season. He says: “Realistically, we’re looking to fight against relegation, if we can stay up, it will be an incredible achievement.”
Saying pre-season hasn’t been too bad, he says: “We’ve had a decent amount of games and they’ve enabled us to build our fitness etc, but holidays etc always make pre-season a little bit disjointed.”
Believing one of their key strengths is the fact is that “we’ve been playing together for five years now so that has to be seen as a huge benefit”, Jonny Kaye has signed for the club, Brad Cohen is back and they’re hoping to secure the signing of Rafe Neiman.
Brady Maccabi, Oakwood A and Woodford Wanderers complete the line-up.