North London Raiders B are being touted as the team to beat, but will L’Equipe be able to claim back-to-back league titles?
Having won the Division Two championship last season at a relative cantor, L’Equipe manager Nicholas Stern is looking for back-to-back title wins in eight months’ time.
He said: “Our aim is to win the league. We have kept everyone together and as long as babies, and future babies don’t affect commitment, then I have no doubt we’ll challenge come the end of the season.”
Saying pre-season preparations have been “very quiet”, he says the strength of the side are “togetherness – we all know our strengths and we all stick together to fight for the mighty orange shirt.”
Also saying how he’s very happy with his squad, he says: “We could maybe use one or two more re-enforcements, but it all depends week to week on the availability of my squad.
“If everyone is available, then we will challenge. I would look out for Max Martin to see how many goals he will score now he is committed to not getting sent off, how many games will Grant Bates play post-baby as if he plays most we will not concede many. Can the Smith brothers dominate this division like they did Division Two, and finally how many John Kay flick-ons will result in goals?”
Oakwood B manager Jason Stein believes his side – and everyone else apart from Raiders B – are playing for second best. He says: “Any team in this Division can only hope to come second [behind them]. If they don’t win the league then there will need to be mass resignations at Raiders. They’re now the super horses.
“Obviously we’re aiming to compete high up the other league and improving the team spirit and preparation is hugely important for us this year. We’ve got to be better prepared. That means better fitness, better timing, better mental awareness of what we need to be doing. Far too many times last year the lads turned up thinking they’d win. That attitude is a disease that needs eradicating.”
Describing pre-season as “mixed”, he says: “We’ve had so many teams pull out of friendlies with us – including big hitters – that we’ve been winging it at times. But we’ve done a long one – two months – and achieved plenty so it’s glass half full for now. I guess we’ll soon find out how pre-season went.”
As to who her perceives as being his key players, he says: “I say this one every year… But Haydon Davidson. After 32 months out of the game it finally looks like he’ll be back – which would be huge. He’s one of the most talented wingers we can call on and his return to fitness after a tough battle would be massive.
“My other two would be Ben Annis and Daniel Seligman. Down the left hand side as a pair I think they could be lethal. Both have shown glimpses of the huge promise they have and for both this is a massive season. In the dugout I’ll be joined by Yorkshireman Simon Field who will help me run the ‘B’ team. On the pitch we’re joined by two capable defenders in Jordan Sherne and Henry Richmond. Winger Daniel Taylor is one I’m tipping to make a big difference to the side and central midfielder Ben Feingold has also joined the club.”
North London Raiders B manager Jonathan Adelman says he’s aiming for his side to be competitive, but adds: “with so many new players to integrate we’ll only know what targets are realistic come the Hanukkah period.”
Happy with how preparations have gone, he said: “We’ve had an excellent pre-season with our traditionally tough fitness sessions a feature again this season.
“We expect to be a physical match for any of the teams in our division and we’ll look to bring a never-say-die application to our game”.
Delighted with the squad, especially given the players who have transitioned up to the A’s and down to the C’s, he adds: “We’ve brought it some quality lads from Scrabble and they are settling in well.”
Los Blancos manager Joel Barnett is hoping for title success – if nothing else, to upset so-called title favourites Raiders. Emphatic pre-season wins of 8-2 and 6-1 will have given him more confidence of challenging for top spot, and he cites the team spirit, unity and Simon Moses as being key to any success his side achieve this season. And as for key players to look out for – when trying to compare Joel Barnett, he says: “John Terry in his prime comes to mind.”
Scrabble has undergone some big changes, player wise, over the summer and are still putting their squad together for the season, which for them starts on 17 September.
Manager Ray Abrahams says: “We finished last season with a horrific injury list, which cost us automatic promotion in the run-in and after a busy summer we’ve released players and brought in some terrific new ones, who we hope will take us to the next level come May.
“We had been offered a place in the top flight, but felt that we needed another season in Division One to settle in a new look squad and try and achieve automatic promotion in our own right.”
Believing – and hoping – youngster Zac Summerfield should make a big impact this season, alongside seasoned campaigners like Player of the Year Adam Waters, Adam Newman, Zak McLeod, Josh Pugh and Dan Green, he’s hoping they will be key in helping the younger players settle in, as well hoping for big things form new signings Lorian Madanes and club legend Tony Gold..
Hoping to still add to the squad, he says: “It will be a difficult division to get out of with some good teams, but we hope to be there or thereabouts at the end of the campaign.
Temple Fortune A manager Simon Linden says he’s hoping his side prove to be extremely competitive in the Division. “It’s a tough division with a number of decent teams, I’m keen for us to push on from last season’s promotion” he says. Citing Israeli duo Eshed Rahav and Jordan Sharifian as the one who will be “continuing to write the headlines”, he’s also happy to have Brett Stead, calling him “one of the best central midfielders in all three divisions.”
And finally, as to what the club will bring to the League? – “49 years of Temple Fortune FC, what more can I say – a credit to Jewish Football.”
Faithfold A, Redbridge Jewish Care B and Woodford Wanderers complete the line-up.