Hendon ready to go again, says Garbacz
David Garbacz has identified Norstar London Raiders A and Oakwood A as Hendon's main rivals as the Reds put the finishing touches to their preparations ahead of the new season.
Raiders topped the division for most of last season, but, after completing their fixtures several weeks before most of their rivals, they could only look on helplessly as Hendon picked their pockets - marched towards the treble.
Garbacz is optimistic about his Hendon’s chances of retaining the Premier Division title despite the departure of five key players who inspired his team to the domestic treble last season.
The Reds begin their MGBSFL title defence at Rowley Lane – the same ground where they were confirmed league champions last season – on Sunday, but Garbacz has been working hard to fill the void left by Yishai Last, Yoav Lebens, Danny Kon, Yehuda Korman and Jacob Gold. Simon Peterman, Ethan Zone and Michael Kenley have come in.
"We were dealt a big blow when Yoav decided to join his mates at FC team and all of a sudden we looked pretty short.
Realistically, our main priority as always will be the league and anything else will be a bonus."
"But in Simon Peterman, I believe we have pulled off one of the coups of the summer. I managed to persuade him that his talents deserved winners medals and that he should come and join us. We were delighted when he accepted and we expect him to fill in the gap created by the absence of Yoav."
Hendon will also play at a new ground this season after moving from Hadley FC. “It has been a fortress for us as we hadn’t lost there for three years,” said Garbacz. They will now play home matches at Mill Hill Sports Village."
“The treble treble sounds pretty sexy but traditionally it is always harder to defend a winner’s trophy than to win it in the first place. Realistically, our main priority as always will be the league and anything else will be a bonus."
As one of the most-improved teams last season, joint-manager Ric Blank and Alex Schock believe the return from injury of “key men” Eddie Manson, Josh Rubin and Adam Levine will help them challenge for silverware. Lee Warner and Simon Davies have also linked up with the squad.
"We have better strength and depth which will be crucial when the ‘northern weddings’ take hold this winter," said Blank.
"We've moved on to a 3G pitch and have trained hard. The boys at Oakwood know they have something special – and we’re only going to get stronger. I’ve challenged everyone to be part of something big – something they can look back on with pride.
"The division will be unbelievably competitive. Like everyone we want to be in the mix but need to stop conceding goals. We’ve worked hard over the summer and no one will enjoy playing us. If we get a good start we’ll take some stopping. But for now it’s one game at a time."
Joel Alterman is predicting big things from his men after a busy summer where they overhauled the squad ahead of life back in the top-flight.
In a major signal of intent, they have drafted in some top quality in the shape of James Gershfield, George Fierstone, Bradley Dryer, Bradley Sharp, David Ronson, Joey Lazare, Josh Brooks, Marc Foster, Ollie Craig, Jake Gottleib and Rob Blackman. Marc Lazare has also joined but faces a spell on the sidelines having been injured in a horror tackle in his first appearance in Harmen colours.
Alterman is part of a four-pronged management team that also contains Joseph Marsh, Oliver Leslie, Samuel Castle. He said: “We did not take the option of promotion without serious consideration of what we could do with our squad this year.
"Our new personnel left us in little doubt that the prem was the place for us to be. We have been working hard in pre-season to gel the new boys and if we can get everyone playing the way we have been in our pre-season games there is no reason why we can’t be towards the top of the table come the end of the season."
The acquisition of Maccabiah stars Gershfield and Sharpe, along with Fierstone and Gottlieb ensure the Harmen boys will be able to mix it with the best.
Alterman said: "Other teams in the division will look at Harmen as an easy fixture due to the nature of our promotion, but they should be under no illusions that we have a quality and a youthfulness in our side that will give all the teams a run for their money."
One of the surprise packages last season, Tony Charles expects his boys to deliver once again, especially with Antony Costa, goal machine Glenn Michaels and former Sawbridgeworth defender James Powell coming in.
And the experience of former Maccabi London Lions midfielder Aviel Schwarz will ensure quality at set-pieces, with Mitch Hahn and Harrison Midda looking to benefit once again.
James Ryan, Ashley Stanton and Jason Goldstein have left the club.
NORSTAR LONDON RAIDERS A
Rob Richman has replaced Phil Peters in the hotseat, but very little else has changed at L'Orange who hope to go from bridesmaid to bride after a season of heartbreak in league and cup.
Richman insists new boys Ben Joseph and Liron Mannie will give the team more of a cutting edge, with young goalkeeper Jake Doffman the “one to watch”. David Rhodes captains the team for the 10th consecutive season.
FC TEAM A
Head coach Ben Gilbey promises "lots of goals" from a side relishing the prospect of Premier Division football for the first time.
"We’re looking to maintain a solid league position and to have a good cup run,” he said. “Wingate & Finchley is calling."
Gilbey made a dramatic move to beef up midfield, with Yoav Lebens joining from champions Hendon. “He’s a great player who was pivotal to all of Hendon’s success,” said Gilbey who also welcomes the free-scoring Alon Hershkorn.
There is also a nice sprinkling of youth in the shape of” JFS wonderkids” Adam Aminoff and David Joseph Cohen. “With Aminoff's masterful footballing brain and quick feet, Dave's skill and pace, the defences of the Premier Division will be having sleepless nights this year,” said Gilbey.
NORTH WEST NEASDEN
NWN make a welcome return to the division, with boss Stirling Kay confident Sam Franks, Steve Green and Josh Wiener hit the ground running.
He said: “We’re want to be competitive in every game and to finish in the top half of the league. Winning a cup is another target.”
REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE
Sam Rosenthal has replaced top-scorer Adam Stolerman with Steve Summers – one of four signings from Chigwell Athletic. Having scored some goals in the lower divisions, Craig Sanford is expected to return to defensive duties.
In captain Richie Caplin, Rosenthal believes RJC have "the best player in the league" and the team are aiming high. "We have a nice mix of youth and experience – everything you need to be champions."
The former winners are looking for an improved showing, and manager Zuriel Solomon has appointed Alex Taylor as his new captain. Dan Perkins and Roie Spitzer have moved on.
Maccabi London Lions complete the division.