The JC MSFL Season 2011/12 gets under way on Sunday with 50 teams battling it out after a summer of glory for some in Vienna and activity for others in the transfer market. Danny Caro looks ahead to the action.
Inter Borehamwood, last season's Division Four champions, have withdrawn from the league. The MSFL management committee have confirmed that Division Three will feature nine teams.
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SOUTHGATE HARMEN A vs NORTH WEST NEASDEN A
With a new management team in charge, former champions Neasden will be looking to hit the ground running when they travel to the Mole to take on Southgate Harmen.
Darren Yarlett and Lee Cash have taken the reigns from Jamie Cole who has moved upstairs following the team’s first trophyless season in years.
Yarlett looked in relaxed mood at Tuesday’s pre-season counsel meeting and when you look at who they have brought in, this comes as no surprise.
Neasden fans will have to wait a little longer to see Team GB star Paul Babai make his first competitive start for the club following his move from Faithfold A, but Jonny Haik lines up in a strong 17-man squad.
Scott Shindler has returned to the club, following a season at Temple Fortune. He will fill the void left by Jonny Ellis who has moved to Brady.
All eyes will be on striker Jason Lindsay who recently signed from Shirley Park, and with Cash in fine form in pre-season, this is a partnership that could set the division alight.
Having taught Adam Klein some new moves on the dance floor in Vienna, I expect him to remind everyone just what a good player he is, while new boy Jamie Shaw is vying for a starting berth alongside Lindsay.
Looking ahead to the big kick-off, Darren Yarlett told JC Sport: “We know it will be a tough game but we have worked very hard in pre-season and the squad that has been assembled looks stronger then last year.
“We go into the game missing three key players but still feel we have plenty to get a positive result.”
Harmen face a baptism of fire in front of their own fans with several Neasden players looking to impress in their first stars.
Dan Uzan’s men made a solid start last season, drawing against Lions A in their first match and they also claimed a famous win over Neasden.
Uzan has worked hard to bring in some new faces over the summer with big striker Zack White keen to impress against his former club.
The Harmen boss knows that his team starts as underdogs but he hopes that some of his new signings rise to the occasion.
Uzan told JC Sport: “There's still quite a few boys away on holiday so we don’t have a full squad for our first game of the season which is a shame.
“There will however be a number of debuts on Sunday including Avi Markiewicz, Ben Harris, Luke Brookner, Ben Prevezer and Zack White.
“We have had some great games against NWN in the past, the best was last seasons 4-1 win when Ben Graham scored a great hat trick.
“Unfortunately Ben is still injured so misses this fixture, so he'll have to wait for the next game to increase his tally against them.
“But NWN always field a strong team and I'm sure they'll have improved the team over the summer.
“We will go into this game, as always, looking for all three points and a clean sheet to start the campaign.”
Scoring goals proved something of an issue for Harmen last season and without Graham, I can’t see them troubling Neasden.
JC team news: Neasden will be missing Paul Babai, Kyle Bentwood and Danny Daggers
Harmen will be missing Ben Graham.
NWN squad: (from) Max Shields, Bradley Sharp, Scott Schindler, Ben Goldberg, Adam Klein, David Fox, Elliot Stern, Sammy Ross, Jake Gottlieb, Matt Sofier, Ryan Glynne, Lee Cash, Jamie Shaw, Rob Lerner, TJ Keterman, Jason Lindsey, Jonny Haik
Venue – Ashmole School, Ref – A. Lewis
JC star man: Sammy Ross (NWN)
DC Prediction: Southgate Harmen A 0 NW Neasden A 3
NORTH LONDON RAIDERS A vs REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE A
There’s a real treat in store here when the Raiders take on Redbridge in Uxbridge.
The defending champions face a tough test in their first competitive match under new boss Eilon Kennet.
It’s worth remembering that the Raiders were the only team to beat RJC last season – running out 4-0 victors at Brunel.
Rumour has it that neither team will be at full-strength on Sunday with both squads stretched to the limit.
It will be interesting to see how RJC fare without Daran Bern, last season’s JC MSFL Player of the Year. He had an excellent European Maccabi Games in Vienna and travelling fans hope that some of their new signings gel in instantly.
Kennet has brought Lee Bibring with him from Rowley Lane, while Fabio Revieccio has made the short journey from Glenthorne. Adam Bolle will give the team another dimension and if he starts alongside Steve Summers, it will certainly keep the home defence on its toes.
Another exciting signing for Kennet is Sam Sollosi, who has been promoted from the club’s C team. He looks the real deal and turned heads in Vienna, when he sparkled on the big stage for the junior football team.
Other new faces include Russell Goldstein, who together with Steve Summers, Ben Sollosi, Bibring and Raiders’ Jamie Wolfson, impressed at the EMG.
Having lost Bern and combative right-back Craig Sandford, RJC will need to be on their mettle on the 3G pitch, where they were second best last season. I expect Summers and Sollosi, last season’s Young Player of the Year, to take on added responsibility, especially with captain Adam Hakimi missing until Chanukah.
It has been a fairly quiet pre-season for the Raiders who have drafted in Ben Ellis and Carl Peters from Neasden. They have managed to keep their squad intact with Jonathan Adelman coming in to replace Adam Fegan at the helm, with the latter joining Wingate & Finchley’s youth coaching set-up.
Jonny Blain, part of Raiders’ management team, has returned to the club following a stint at Faithfold C. His experience and goals will give the team another dimension.
The team will be looking for more goals from the likes of Adam Posner and Wolfson although it will need a united effort to start the season with three points.
I can see this one finishing honours even.
Venue – Brunel University, Uxbridge, Ref – R. Benardout
JC star man: Joel Berg (RJC)
DC Prediction: North London Raiders A 1 Redbridge Jewish Care A 1
FC TEAM A vs HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB A
FC Team could not have asked for a tougher first match as they prepare for their first-ever match in the Premier.
Player-manager Mitch Young has waited a long time for this day and I’m sure his players won’t let him down.
One of, if not the most ambitious team in the league, Team have flexed their muscles in the transfer market, with Young flashing the cash to bring in Jon Toby, David Ossack, Simon Peterman and Daniel Cohen.
The team enjoyed a very strong run during the second half of last season and Young hopes they can maintain that momentum.
Looking ahead to the big match, Young told JC Sport: “We have total respect for Hendon. We know a lot of their boys and they will be incredibly hard to stop.
“We will do our best but they are one of the best teams in the Premier League so we will be happy to take a point from the game If we can.”
As you will read in tomorrow’s JC, Hendon are my favourites for the title. I’ve been hugely impressed with David Garbacz’s pulling power after he broke the bank to bring in Ben Lauffer, Motti Colman and Dany Kon.
Lauffer and Colman’s are seasoned campaigners who lit up Vienna with their skills in the respective Open Football and Futsal events. Lauffer is widely regarded as one of the best Jewish midfielders in the country and I can see him helping the Hammers dominating midfield exchanges more weeks than not.
I was hugely impressed by Colman in Vienna as well. He scored goals, drove forward whenever possible and won my Celebration of the tournament award.
The signing of Kon is clearly one for the future, but with Saul Conway leaving the club, he could get a chance earlier than expected.
Speaking at his midweek press conference, Harry Redknapp-style from his car window, Garbacz told JC Sport: “Assuming we get all registrations in on time, we should have a pretty full squad to choose from . With the three new signings all fit and raring to go it will present some interesting selection dilemmas but that is always good news.
“In recent seasons we have tended to be a bit slow off the mark and have then found ourselves playing catch up from an early stage.
“We are determined to put a marker down to the rest of the league this season by getting off to a much faster and more professional start.
It’s clear Garbacz holds FC Team in high regard. “FC Team are a newly promoted side and will enter Sunday’s game with all guns blazing ,” he said. “We are expecting a very tough opening match but ultimately will be very disappointed if we do not get off to a winning start.
“It’s been a long summer but we are excited for the season ahead.”
It will be interesting to see if Hendon go into the new season with a different formation. The quality of Dovid Korman will provide Kon with regular service and Garbacz will be encouraging his midfielders to push forward.
The loss of Dan Silverman is a blow for Team, especially against a side who are strong at set-pieces, but in Jon Toby, Jake Weiner and David Ossack, they have players capable of mixing it with the best. And there is always Matt Drage who is capable of putting in a shift at centre half.
This has all the makings of a fascinating contest and I’m sure the players won’t disappoint.
JC team news: FC Team will be missing the injured Ollie Segal while Richard Salmon is rated 50-50. New signings Simon Peterman, Jon Toby and Daniel Cohen will take their place in the squad. Gideon Moss will captain the side.
Venue – Aycliffe Road, Ref – M. Lavender
JC star man: Ben Lauffer (Hendon)
DC Prediction: FC Team A 1 Hendon Utd SC A 2
BRADY MACCABI vs LONDON MACCABI LIONS A
It’s great to have Brady back in the top-flight and whatever happens this season, manager Josh Rosenfeld can be proud of what he has achieved in his fledgling managerial career.
Having already made some key signings, Rosenfeld continued his spending spree on deadline day, bringing strapping defender Jonny Meltzer back to the club after Inter Borehamwood folded. As you’d expect,.Meltzer stood head and shoulders above the rest in Division Four although he could have his hands full against a new-look Lions team on Sunday.
Rumour has it that Rosenfeld is contemplating bringing another Brady old boy back to the club with Joel Lassman sought after by several clubs.
The acquisition of Jonny Ellis is the one that will really turn heads though. I think it’s a great sign of intent from the Brady boss. Other new faces include Jon Ellis, Nicky Smith, Alex Hershman, Jon Green, Jordan Grant and Adam Littas.
Now Rosenfeld cannot wait for kick-off. He told JC Sport: “We are very excited for our first fixture back in the Premier. It has been a long time Brady have been here and we intend to stay here.
“We couldn’t ask for a much bigger game than Lions. They are the most famous club in the MSFL and we know whatever team they will put out it will be a strong one.
“We hope to start well, show what we can do, and on our day I firmly believe we can beat anyone if we perform to the best of our ability.
“This league takes no prisoners. We will need to be at our best the whole game.”
Brady will play home games at Rowley Lane this season so there will be something of a derby atmosphere both on and off the pitch. For Brady to have a successful season, I think they will have to turn it into something of a fortress.
The Lions go into the season with their cards close to their chest. New managers Malcolm Newman and Josh Newman, a father and son team, have been working hard to bring in new faces, with the emphasis on youth.
Dean Ben Yosef has joined from Chigwell Athletic while they have retained Yoav Lebens, a former MSFL Young Player of the Year, among others. Ben Joseph will captain the side.
Sunday is the beginning of a new era for the Lions and this is clearly one to keep an eye on.
JC team news: For Brady, Josh Hershman is suspended.
Lions will be missing the injured Dean Ben Yosef while Yoav Lebens is away.
Venue – Rowley Lane, Ref – S. Levy
JC star man: Alex Hershman (Brady)
DC Prediction: Brady Maccabi 2 London Maccabi Lions A 1
MONTANA BOCA UNITED vs SOUTHGATE HARMEN B
Two teams with new managers go head to head at the Hive with three points order of the day.
Promotion is the name of the game for Montana who have made several signings to boost manager Vivian Emanuel.
Jordan Segal, Mitch Green, Blake Buckman, Nathan Harrod, Michael Perkin, Elliot Kennard, Simon Lindall and Josh Greenham have joined the club with the return of Green a major boost.
The signing of keeper Perkin, formerly of FC Team, is also a good one. He is as reliable as they come.
Simon Peterman is the only player to have left the club, with chairman Raymond Harrod tying striker Gary Cohen to a new long-term deal.
Harrod is confident of making a winning start. He told JC Sport: “After an excellent pre-season, we are very much looking forward to to the start of the season. New manager Viv Emanuel has put all of us through a very hard pre-season schedule. We are especially pleased that Viv has a full squad to choose from.
“With no injuries or suspensions to worry about we are aiming for a good positive start to this campaign. Everyone knows exactly what is expected.”
Harmen are also looking for an improved showing this season, and new boss Marc Cohen has freshened things up.
It’s worth remembering that the team avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth last season and Cohen has been working long and hard to bolster the squad. Much is expected from summer signings Bradley Fox, Ben Rosenblatt, Nick Kershberg and Doron Hershkorn.
Consistency is the name of the game for Cohen who is hopeful of mounting a promotion push.
Cohen told JC Sport: “Southgate have a good strong squad for this season. This week however, there are a number of boys who are nursing injuries and are hoping to be fit for Sunday.
“If we can get everyone fit then I am hoping to hit the ground running and pick up three points.
“Our striker, Doron Hershkorn, has goals in his last two games and will hopefully be a big threat on Sunday.”
I can see this being a well-contested affair but in the end, home advantage will be key.
JC team news: Montana chairman Raymond Harrod is out for six weeks after breaking a fingernail in Sunday’s friendly against Faithfold.
Venue – The Hive, Ref – A. Myerson
JC star man: Mitch Green (Montana)
DC Prediction: Montana Boca Utd A 3 Southgate Harmen B 1
WOODFORD WANDERERS vs REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE B
Much like Arsenal, the Woodford fans were panicking as they demanded some new signings, but they need not have as chairman Alex Aviram came up trumps in the transfer market.
From sunny skies and beaches to grass roots and contracts for Aviram. Director of Football Jerome Marks wasted no time in getting the chairman into the boardroom to seal the deal on a number of signings just before the season starts.
The buzz around the Woodford dressing this Sunday will be electric. After closing the deal on two young superstars Aviram was said to be delighted.
Nuriel Avrham, 21, dubbed “the Jewish Adebayor” is unknown to the MSFL. He spent most of last season playing his football in Israel and has now returned to put his mark on the Maccabi League.
Aviram did not stop there. Woodford realised another statement after fighting off champions Redbridge, Chigwell and Glenthorne for the race of young flamboyant winger Bradley Gayer.
The 19-year-old used to play for Charlton Athletic youth and debuting in the MSFL this season, it’s clear he’s the kind of player that will put bums on seats.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s big derby, Gayer told JC Sport: "I could not resist the move to Woodford. They are an exciting club that are always moving forward and I want to be part of that setup."
The signings for Woodford just free-flowed through-out the week as Marks completed two more key signings to be added to the Woodford defence. Experienced centre back Craig Mervish, 26, was snapped up from Glenthorne FC at the 11th hour. After playing in the MSFL the past eight years, Mervish will bring a cool head to the Woodford backline.
Aviram also sealed the deal for Redbridge A keeper Ben Rosenthal. A Woodford insider said: “Ben, 25, debated the big move ever since Woodford was established back in 2008. He was meant to be part of the set-up back then and has finally decided to jump on the bandwagon. These are extremely exciting times for the Woodford fans.
Aviram added: “I’m delighted we have managed to snatch every target we wanted this summer. There was some good work from the DoF. I’m confident we can bounce back to win the division.
“We were unfortunate last season due to injuries and travels but I’m sure we can now get back to winning ways. Roll on the good times because the Woodford star is shining bright.
“The Chairman, Directors, Management and Staff would like to welcome these new signing with open arms, and look forward to their contribution throughout the season.
“When quizzed on whether this was the end of Woodford's transfer business, DoF Jerome Marks had this inspiring message to the supporters: “I don’t know.”
JC team news: Wanderers player-manager Alex Aviram has a fully fit and full-strength squad to chose from with the exception of Darryl Green (suspended) and Craig Mervish (wedding). Aviram will look to his new signings to provide fire power up front alongside last season’s top-scorer Jerome Marks and Mitch Hahn.
There is also another team playing on Sunday, although Stirling Kay, the new RJC boss, was unavailable for comment.
Much more than east London pride is up for grabs on Sunday with the home defence needing to keep an eye on the talented Daniel Orgel.
On paper, it looks like there can only be one winner, with a sell-out crowd wanting to get a glimpse of Gayer on debut.
Venue – Redbridge Sports Centre, Ref – K. Gold
JC star man: Bradley Gayer (Woodford)
DC Prediction: Woodford Wanderers 4 Redbridge Jewish Care B 1
NORSTAR A vs TEMPLE FORTUNE A
Going into the new season, there is a real sense of belief in both camps that they can have another strong season.
Fortune had a standout campaign last season, running out worthy winners. But with Andy Souber having handed over the reigns to Lee Fegan, and star player Scott Shindler returning to Neasden, it will be interesting to see how quicky they acclimatise to life in Division One.
In the end, Fortune finished four points ahead of the Stars although the bookies are predicting an even tighter race in terms of who will finish higher.
Fegan will be looking to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Adam, and win the Division One title. He told JC Sport: “Our players are really looking forward to the first game of the season. We are still waiting for a few players to return but the club is very much looking forward to playing in the MSFL Division One again.
“We know Norstar A from last season so we know what to expect. The boys are really up for this game.”
Norstar have been the model of consistency under Phil Peters. Every year, he tinkers with his squad and every year he comes up trumps.
Asked for his hopes for the season, Peters told JC Sport: “After three successive promotions, the romantics at the club are hoping for another promotion at the first time of asking. The realists think we should aim for mid-table this year and then mount a title-charge next season.
“As far as I’m concerned, we have a squad that are talented enough to go up again – particularly as we’ve got a lot of players returning this season and if we keep everyone fit we might be able to challenge for the title as well.”
Josh Pistol and Jeff Gotch have joined the ranks to put them in good shape for the big kick-off. Norstar’s Jamie Slavin said: “Obviously we're excited for the start of the season. We've had a great pre-season with a couple of impressive results against Premier Division teams and the lads just want to get stuck in to securing a fourth straight promotion come May.
“As we know from last year, Temple Fortune are a great side but we also know we have nothing to fear and want to right some of the wrongs from last year's early season reversal.
“In terms of team news, we're missing a few lads including Eli Houri up front and Adam Kaldor in the middle of the park but we have a really strong squad this year with plenty of players capable of putting in a good performance.
“Of course we'd like to kick the season off with a victory and Phil and I know the lads will put in everything to achieve that.”
This is a game that could swing either way, but I can see Norstar just nicking it.
Venue – Ark Academy, Wembley Ref – T. McEvoy
JC star man: Josh Pistol (Norstar)
DC Prediction: Norstar A 2 Temple Fortune A 1
NORTH WEST NEASDEN B vs BRIXTON OLD BOYS A
Brixton are many people’s favourites to win the title and John Nitka’s men will face a true test of their credentials against a new-look Neasden B.
Daniel Hodes has offloaded 11 players from last season and drafted in four players from university along with several players from the Masters league.
Hodes told JC Sport: “We will have a mix of youth and experience this season. My hopes are we gel well and improve a bit each game.”
I was mightily impressed by Brixton during a recent pre-season friendly against North London Raiders. It’s clear that Nitka and co have reason for optimism after finishing runners-up in Division Two last term.
Looking ahead to the big match, Nitka told JC Sport: “’I’am really excited at the team I am able to pick. Whilst we don’t have a full squad available we do still have an extremely strong one. All I can ask is that the guys show the same desire to win as they have done so far in pre season.
“Losing narrowly to Raiders A, beating Southgate Harmen A and B team. along with a comfortable victory over last year’s double winners Redbridge A. has given us a platform to build upon for this season.”
Nitka has made several astute signings. He said: “Ed Weisz will start his first competitive game as captain and will be the new skipper for the season. Other than that we are looking at competitive debuts for George Fierstone, Rory Lincoln, Kurt Robinson and Sam Cherkas. All are quality players and I am confident that they will impress on Sunday.”
“I will be looking for a strong disciplined performance from the lads and as always, Brixton will be going for the three points.”
I think that Brixton will be looking to make a statement of intent on Sunday. The signing of Fierstone from Neasden speaks volumes and I think they will go home the happier in a hard-fought tussle.
Venue – Hadley FC, Ref – S. Russell
JC star man: George Fierstone (Brixton)
DC Prediction: Brixton Old Boys 2 NW Neasden B 1
LONDON MACCABI LIONS B vs REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE C
Daniel Gordon, the new manager of Redbridge C, will be looking to instill some King Kenny flair on to his team this season.
Having taken over from Richard Bronzite, who reportedly stepped down in a bid to find a girlfriend who is marriage material, Gordon has been working hard, trying to bring in the best of British.
The Redbridge boss believes that Lions “will be in the title mix come the end of the season,” although he believes that with his new simmer signings on board, three points are a distinct possibility.
“I am feeling very confident with the squad I have this season,” Gordon told JC Sport: “We are mixing youth and experience and new signings Brad Porter, Josh Henderson and Doron Weinstein will all be involved on Sunday.
RJC’s three-pronged strikeforce of James Ryan, Greg Bookman and Gordon will frighten the living daylights out of most MSFL defences, however LML will be relieved to hear that one of them is missing.
Having been given the dreaded vote of confidence following relegation, bouncebackability is the name of the game for Jamie Kyte, the Lions boss.
Kyte told JC Sport; “Ideally we want to be pushing for a top three finish. However for that to happen, we need to make some new signings, especially a regular keeper.
Will Beresford will captain the team once more. He’s a player Kyte describes as “very gifted and someone who should really be pushing for the A team”.
I’m sure this will be music to the ears of Gordon and co but, asked which teams will challenge for the title, Kyte said: “Norstar and Camden.”
Big things are predicted of striker James Gold, who Kyte has tipped to win the Golden Boot.
I don’t think there will be much between the teams on Sunday but am tipping the visitors to pinch the points.
JC team news: James Ryan, Josh Barnett and Rob Gevertz are unavailable as are out of the country.
Venue – Rowley Lane, Ref – Nigel Burns
JC star man: Doron Weinstein (RJC)
DC Prediction: London Maccabi Lions B 1 Redbridge Jewish Care C 2
HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB B vs GLENTHORNE UNITED A
After a decidedly dodgy 2010/11, the Hornets are looking to return to the headlines and I think they have just the right man with Motty Korman installed as their new manager, together with Chaim Gothold
Korman will add a feel-good-factor to the fold with his teamtalks described as “legendary”.
A meeting against last season’s Division Two champions is a tall order but Korman believes the bigger they come, the harder they fall.
He told JC Sport: “We have had a tough pre-season with players being away and both managers getting married over the summer.
“We are expecting big things from Chanania Engelsman and captain Tali Nevies this season. RA Noe has looked very sharp up front in pre-season.
“Glenthorne are always a tough opposition but starting our season at home is always an advantage and we hope to get off to a good start.”
The Thornes are my favourite to win the Division Two crown. Dan Lipman and David Blitz worked well as a team last season but Lipman will go it alone this year in the role of player-manager.
Looking ahead to Sunday, he told JC Sport: "We've had a good pre-season and finished with a promising performance against the Bs. I'm happy that we are more than ready to start our league campaign where last year's left off.
“Little has changed with regards to the squad and the boys are looking forward to getting off to a strong start on Sunday."
The loss of Craig Mervish is a blow to a Glenthorne team that conceded just 23 goals in 18 matches last season. I’m sure they have an able replacement but they must keep a close eye on Gothold who does not need a second invitation to shoot.
In the end, it could all boil down to the showdown between Gothold and Lipman.
JC team news: Hendon this week lost Josh Aziz to North London Raiders B, while star signing Yoel Deal, who Korman predicted “would take the league by storm,” face a long spell on the sidelines after breaking his ankle in pre-season.
Venue – West Hendon Playing Fields, Ref – TBC
JC star man: Tali Nevies (Hendon)
DC Prediction: Hendon United Sports Club B 1 Glenthorne United A 1
FC TEAM B vs L'EQUIPE
It’s been a tough couple of season for FC Team B boss Ben Simon but he hopes to see his troops hit the ground running when they entertain L’Equipe.
New signings Adam Goldsmith, James Milman and Ricky Shafer will give the team a new lease of life with the firepower of Goldsmith ever crucial.
Home fans will turn up expecting a winning start and Simon is confident his boys will produce the goods.
“Expectations for Sunday are for a good performance and a victory to kick the season off.
“We will have a few debutants including Adam Goldsmith, Phil Braham and Ricky Shafer that should make a big impact this season.
“We’re not far off a full-strength squad with only a few absentees due to wedding commitments. We should also have a strong bench let alone starting eleven available.”
L’Equipe are under the stewardship of David Prager this season and despite the loss of star players Joey Kolirin, Jason Miller and Paul Rubenstein, he will be looking at Sunday’s clash as a game they can win.
Big things are expected from summer signings Andy Burke and Ollie Kay and a healthy travelling support will be looking for some early season cheer.
I can see a few goals flying in on Sunday and think FC Team will have just too much on the day.
Venue – TBC, Ref – TBC
JC star man: Adam Goldsmith (FC Team)
DC Prediction: FC Team B 4 L’Equipe 2
CAMDEN PARK vs NORSTAR B
Season 2011/12 is a big one for everyone connected to Camden Park. Having ended their long-standing love affair with Division One, we saw the changing of the guard during the summer with manager Justin Rockberger and keeper Phil Caplin standing down after many years of excellent service.
The team will be led in Division Two by player-manager Josh Marks who is looking to take them back up at the first time of asking.
Sponsored by Derwent London, Camden are preparing to take on a team they finished 12 places and two divisions above last season.
Marks is keen to right the wrongs of last season. “We were really unlucky to get relegated last season, missing so many players through injury and unavailability, so first and foremost we want to make sure we can get our strongest team out consistently and then hopefully be in the mix to get promoted straight back to Division 1,” he told JC Sport.
“We’re not under any illusions though, we’ve got a very young and fairly inexperienced side, we know it’s going to be a tough season.”
Marks believes his new-look team can take the division by storm. “We have lots of youthful vigour and creativity, and hopefully by the start of the season a good level of fitness. There’s never a dull moment when Camden are around.”
Norstar boss Jonny Bunt believes this season will be the team’s toughest yet. New signings Daniel ‘Cappers’ Caplan, Jono Gaon and Ian Weinstein
The gaffer also has high hopes for Adam Lipman. He said: “, He continues to be brilliant in training but on the pitch has historically defied logic with his dopiness. We really believe this year Training Lipman will become Sunday Lipman.”
It’s hard to call a winner in this one so I’m opting for a high-scoring draw.
Venue – The Hive, Ref – M. Cohen
JC star man: Adam Lipman (Norstar)
DC Prediction: Camden Park 3 Norstar B 3
LOS BLANCOS vs BLIZZARD STORM
As luck would have it, Los Blancos record signing Joel Kutner will come face to face with the club he left during the summer in what promises to be an opening day festival of football.
Los Blancos manager Joel Minsky worked hard to lure the front man to the club following the departure of top-scorer Dany Kon to Premier Division big boys Hendon.
Sunday will be an emotional day for Kutner who could be in for a mixed reception from travelling fans.
Kutner said: “The fans should appreciate all I did for them in the last two seasons, and doubling my wage packet - they will understand. No goal celebrations next week.”
Blizzard boss Simon Linden has issued a plea to ensure Kutner receives a warm welcome. He said: “I’ve mentioned in my match day programme notes that you deserve a good reception. However, the hard core fans are still furious...
Linden’s men finished 13 points ahead of Los Blancos who seemingly never recovered from the heady heights of the backpage of the JC and reaching the JC Cyril Anekstein Cup.
The Blizzard manager was keen to ensure that Sunday doesn’t turn into the Joel Kutner show, but I fear it could be too late!
Linden told JC Sport: “The big attention turns to Joel Kutner who had a fantastic Blizzard record, 46 goals in two seasons which has seen him emerge as one of the best strikers in the lower leagues.
“Joel is a great player, one of the nicest you could meet and we all know how difficult it was to leave us to join all his close friends at Los Blancos. I’m sure he will do very well there, they are sure to be battling at the top of our league and I see Sunday as a very tough opening day.”
But rather than focus on player no longer in his control, Linden has done some good business in the transfer market.
“We are delighted to welcome Shai Revivo and Ben Roback to the fold. Our squad is looking very strong and the target is back to back promotions. Lets this season started.”
A sustained title challenge is order of the day for Minsky’s men. Dan Cohen, Josh Colman and Trevor Silverman will add quality to the team led by captain Adam Hersh.
The match also sees DJ Neal Cohen, the former Zig Zag manager, take charge of his first game as a referee.
Sunday is a chance for both teams to put down a marker and Linden will send his team out with clear instructions to ensure that Kutner doesn’t grab the headlines. The presence of Revivo, a real coup from Neasden, will ensure he doesn’t get too many early Chanukah presents.
JC team news: For Blizzard, new signings Shai Revivo and Ben Roback have both been included in a strong squad. Joe Stolerman returns after a six-month absence, Stuart Muller has signed a full-time contract and cannot wait for the big kick off. Alex Rubin misses out. He will miss the first month of the season, as will Adam Nathan and Brett Freeman who are all abroad.
Venue - The Hive, Ref - N. Cohen
JC star man: Shai Revivo (Blizzard)
DC Prediction: Los Blancos 2 Blizzard Storm 2
NORTH WEST NEASDEN C vs UJIA
Many people have raised eyebrows after seeing that I have tipped Louis Taylor’s men to win the Division Three crown.
My logic is that in keeper Ed Bloom and defender Adam Levene, they have two Premier Division calibre players. Added to that, Taylor will contribute around 20 goals and the rest should fall into place.
The team were delighted to accept an invitation to go up after finishing fourth in Division Four last season.
Taylor believes his men are up to the challenge. “Everyone at Neasden C can't wait for the season to start,” he told JC Sport. “I have a squad of over 25 players available for this season, which means we have great strength in depth.
“This week we have a really strong team to choose from and will be looking to get out first three points on the board.”
Alex Lewis is the only player unavailable from last season’s squad with Taylor looking for strong early season display from new boys Matthew Davies, Callum Stein and Mark Engel, the former Harmen B manager.
UJIA boss Darren Rolfe is looking for a top five finish this season. Having reached the final of the Barry Goldstein Cup last season, Rolfe and co have a taste for the big time and in Jeremy Leigh, they clearly have a man for the big occasion.
Experienced striker Assi Avital and Ben Nassim are sure to keep the Neasden back line honest, with Rolfe wanting another big season for his captain, Matt Radstone.
Brad Cohen and Oli Henry are the ones to watch in a team that combines youth and experience.
Home fans will be expecting to see their team deliver a winning start and that’s what I’m banking on.
JC star man: Matthew Davies (NWN)
DC Prediction: NW Neasden C 3 UJIA 1
SHIRLEY PARK vs TEAM JLGB
Shirley Park are reeling from the loss of star striker Jason Lindsay who was recently snapped up by Neasden A, but I believe that they still have enough to be competitive this season in the nine-team division.
Gideon Gold will no longer have to worry about his goal tally. I expect him to step up to the mark in a team where Nicky Plotnek is also a key player.
Joint-managers Dave Lusman and Dan Oade enjoyed a solid first campaign and I’m sure they won’t be out of their depth in a higher division.
Defender Ilan Shaki will ensure that things remain tight at the back while new signings lan and Paul Bean will add quality and flair.
Captained by Dan Mitman, it’s clear that the team has leaders across the park and so long as they can keep hangovers to a minimum, I can see this team going places this season.
The JLGB brigade completed their pre-season programme with a morale-boosting 2-0 victory over Redbridge C. The JLGB squad has undergone somewhat of a transformation over the summer and the first few friendlies saw the new teammates struggling to gel.
But in truth it all came together in the second half of a friendly two weeks ago against Blizzard Storm, and JLGB have not looked back.
Manager Rob Silverman welcomes new signings Ryan Kissin, James Lester and Dan Levy who all look set to start.
He said: “Over the next few fixtures, I expect to get stronger and stronger. Soon I hope to be able to put out a full-strength side in a regular basis which I expect will cause any team in the division problems.”
Looking ahead to Sunday, he said: “Shirley Park are a good side. They thumped us in pre-season, but they should certainly expect a sterner test this Sunday.
“We are close to signing two or three further players and expect them to sign over the next couple of weeks. Having played in friendlies, the potential new signings will make a significant impact to the side.
JC team news: For JLGB, Dave Mitchell faces a late fitness test on a knock. He is currently rated at 50/50.
Other new signings Howard Bowman and Rob Freedman are away this weekend and a lot of the remainder of the squad are still away on holidays.
JC star man: Nicky Plotnek (Shirley)
DC Prediction: Shirley Park 3 Team JLGB 2
GLENTHORNE UNITED B vs CATFORD & BROMLEY MACCABI
Supporters of Catford & Bromley may want to look away now.
A change of management and a change of personnel has seen a strong Glenthorne team become even stronger. In fact, had I been aware exactly who they had brought in, I might well have tipped them for the title.
It would be fair to say that given their new signings, The Thornes would not look out of place in one of the top divisions. New managers Sam Rosenthal and Craig Sandford have bought well, arguably even better than Sir Alex, with several players of Premier Division quality coming in in recent weeks.
New signings Lewis Walker, Adam Shafron, James Rubin, Michael Winehouse, Andy Levy and Sandford all in squad while the injured Paul Block sits out the opener. Jamie Crawford has been called up to Glenthorne's A team while Elliott Coulton and Matthew Geppert away.
All eyes will be on wonder kid Josh Wynne once more. He excelled last season and despite several of the top clubs making major offers, he has extend his contract with the Redbridge club.
Delighted with the team's summer business, Sandford told JC Sport: "We're very excited about the group of players we have.
"We have a strong team but we have to respect everyone."
Catford, sponsored by Furnitubes, has continued to build steadily and will be looking for a top half finish.
Managed by Simon Wolfson, Adam Lewis and Joel Isaacs, they have lost Josh Pater and Dan Stone over the summer but managed to keep hold of striker Eli Baraty and Ashley Stokes, two players who impressed last season.
The club has high hopes, again, for young full-back Elliot Alexson, while keeper Guy Ben-Aroya will have his shot-stopping abilities put to the test.
Football is not all about winning for a Catford team who finished high up the fair play league last year and second in sportsmanship award table. They have a number of promising young players combined with some experienced campaigners.
There is a great togetherness about the Cats these days although their spirit will be put to the test by what is clearly a remarkably strong Glenthorne team.
Captained by Adam Lewis, the Cats believe that, they will have more than enough to compete with the teams who have come up. Jamie Beale has joined from the now defunct Heath Banta.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Adam Lewis told JC Sport: "We're looking forward to this week having beaten the Glenthorne A team last season, and know that if we can get a result it will set a very high standard for the rest of the season.
"We beat L'Equipe 5-2 in a friendly last weekend and only lost by the odd goal 3-2 to Harmen the week before, so we feel we're in good shape for the season ahead."
It's clear that the Cats have nothing to lose on Sunday but I expect the Thornes to start in style.
Venue - White Hart Lane Community Centre, Ref - Stuart Ansher
JC star man: Andy Levy (Glenthorne)
DC Prediction: Glenthorne Utd B 4 Catford & Bromley Maccabi 0
BOCA JEWNIORS vs BRADY MACCABI B
Two new teams go head to head, looking for their first-ever points in Maccabi football.
Monk brothers – Ryan, Sefton and Farrell – have played a big part in getting Boca off the ground. Ryan, who also captains Belmont & Edgware CC’s 2nd XI, will play between the sticks.
After a busy pre-season, newly-formed Boca Jewniors are raring to go. Manager Sefton Monk was without nine first team players on Thursday night for their final pre-season friendly which they narrowly lost against a full-strength SPEC 1-0.
Six other first team players will come back in the side for Sunday's game which include Alex Sherr, Brett Schuman, James Edelman, Gil Sassoon, Russell Sassoon and Robert Greene. Player-manager Sefton Monk came through 70 minutes of football on Thursday in his first game back and impressed after being five months out with an ankle injury suffered last season.
Looking ahead to their first match in the Maccabi League, Boca Jewniors chairman Sefton Monk told JC Sport: "After a lot of good progress in our pre-season training and friendlies, I think we have a real chance of challenging for promotion.
"At the end of the day that is all clubs primal goal for the season but one in which I think Boca can achieve."
He went on to say: "After being nine players short in our last friendly and still being able to hold league favourites SPEC to a 1-0 loss, I am confident that with a full-strength side Boca will be ready to impress come Sunday against Brady Maccabi B.
Josh Dagul will spearhead Brady’s challenge. Sponsored by Impex Russell Ltd - Lighting Specialists, the team harbour promotion hopes with captain James Joseph key to their plans. There are also high hopes for Mike Beaber while there are rumours that the club is trying to tempt Joel Lassman following the withdrawal of Inter Borehamwood.
With Ollie Kay, Jonny Meltzer, Ben Hildebrand and Sam Frohlich in the squad, I see no reason why the Edgware boys won’t be there or thereabouts come the end of the season, but a good start is vital.
JC team news: For Boca, Alex Newman and Joel Levitt are still away. Player/assistant-manager Farrell Monk has picked up a knock at Boca's outing against Temple Fortune A last weekend and will not be fit for Sunday's opener. Meanwhile player-coach Jamie Weinrich has shrugged of a hamstring strain which kept him out Thursday night to be able to play. Boca Jewniors have lost out on Winger Eli Smus who has left Bushey for Israel for two years to join the Army. Goalkeeper Ryan Monk is away at a training camp in Las Vegas (well that at least that is what I'm hoping he is doing out there) so 18-year-old Bradley Handelaar will take his place between the sticks. And after an impressive display at centre back against SPEC, stand-in captain Anton Nyman is carrying on his transformation from winger in to centre back.
Venue – South Oxhey, Ref – H. Raffe
JC star man: James Joseph (Brady)
DC Prediction: Boca Jewniors 1 Brady Maccabi B 2
FC TEAM C vs TEMPLE FORTUNE B
It’s a sign of the times that FC Team have unveiled a third XI. With a team in the top-flight and another in Division Two, they club is flying at the minute and full credit must go to the likes of Mitch Young and Jonny Pearl for building an empire.
Manager Michael Myers believes his troops are capable of mounting a serious promotion challenge. He told JC Sport: “The team will bring flair to the division as we have a highly talented squad and the team wants to play good possession football.”
Terry Jeffries took charge of Fortune B over the summer. He will work with No. 2 Adam Glekin. Having reached the last four of the Barry Goldstein Cup, the team is looking for an improved showing in the league. They won four games out of 22 last season although nine of their 16 defeats were by one-goal margins.
Seasoned campaigners Garry Simpson and Simon Allen will give the team some vital experience in midfield and defence for the team sponsored by Bekhors.com.
Three points are there for the taking for both sides on Sunday and it could all boil down to which team wants it most.
Venue – Hatch End, Ref – R. Caplin
JC star man: Michael Myers (FC Team)
DC Prediction: FC Team C 2 Temple Fortune B 1
JEWVENTUS vs ATHLETIC BILBAUM
Jewve boss Gabriel John has had a busy summer. His Tyger Paw product has got off the ground and having cemented a deal with Arsenal, he’s hoping to get an endorsement from the kosher one, Yossi Benayoun.
Rumour has it that John tried a cheeky last-ditch bid to land the Israel skipper, but he will have to settle for Richard Fogelman as his talisman again.
Following a spell in the Big Apple, John has now moved to his luxury villa in Tenerife. Now he is hungry to improve on 10th place last season. But as the manager says, “a lot rest on 35-goal-a-season man Schnitzelman”.
Looking ahead to Sunday, John told JC Sport: “With a slightly limited first squad, we know our opponents well and won't be taking anything for granted.
“New additions Will Martyn, James Alexander and reJewvenated striker Reuben John all looking to impress.”
Some have labelled this man the Schnitzelman versus Ed Green, but either way, it should be a tasty affair.
Bilbaum’s rumoured spending spree never materialised with the board opting to make significant improvements to the Bernebaum Stadium. With former boss Josh Ejdelbaum, Ed Green and Andrew ‘Dog’ Fenichel vying for the captain’s armband, the team, sponsored by Magen David Adom UK, should be aiming for a top six finish.
I can see this being an open and entertaining affair with both sets of fans going home happy.
Venue – Chase Lodge, Ref – M. Cowan
JC star man: Will Martyn (Jewventus)
DC Prediction: Jewventus 2 Athletic Bilbaum 2
SPEC FC vs BRIXTON OLD BOYS B
Without wanting to put the mockers on SPEC, both David Wolff and I have tipped them for the title.
There has been much hype about Laurence Conway’s men although the manager won’t be there to see his team make their first competitive outing. With Conway on a scouting mission in Japan, it'll be down to Ricky Lawrence and captain Ashley Burns to pick the team to start our first league game of the season.
SPEC have made some excellent signings. I fully expect them to last the distance and score goals for fun. This season, they will also compete in the London Sunday Junior Cup.
Looking ahead to kick-off, an excited Lawrence told JC Sport: “We've waited a long time for this game and we are hoping for a good turnout from our 'fans' aka mums, dads, girlfriends, etc but with all the excitement surrounding the game, we will have to make sure we stay fully focused on the game ahead.
“We have a full squad to choose from, other than Marc Hecht who is unavailable, though we do have a this week against Boca Jewniors, so we are hoping not to pick up any injuries then.
“We don't know much about Brixton Old Boys but from what we have heard, they are a more than decent outfit. We are hoping to take three points from the game but like every fixture this season, we know it's not going to be easy.”
Dan Cohen has sparkled during pre-season while Adam Lenz will always score goals at this level. Captain Ashley Burns already has visions of lifting the title come May.
Brixton, who are managed by James Shuster, have kept their cards remarkably close to their chests. Truth be told, they could not have asked for a tougher start as I expect the SPEC juggernaut to make the perfect start.
Venue – Hatfield Uni, Ref – P. Dobkin
JC star man: Dan Cohen (SPEC)
DC Prediction: SPEC 4 Brixton Old Boys B 1