MSFL preview: Division One
Title contenders Montana and Brady will lock horns again
Much like last season, Division One looks one of the tightest on paper. Chigwell Athletic look the real deal after signing a host of top players from neighbours Redbridge Jewish Care.
Player-manager Richard Slater welcomes back Steve Summers, the club's all-time leading goal-scorer, along with former captain Daniel Castle. Adam Shafron, Russell Brill, Michael Witzenfeld and Dean Ben-Yosef also return. The forward line has been further boosted with James Ryan joining from FC Team plus Dean Ben-Yosef.
Sam Rosenthal returns after a year at London Maccabi Lions. Daniel Curtis and Russell Lawson have left the club. Jon Swead remains captain.
Slater said: "We will be aiming for the title, no question about that. The boys finished strongly last season and managed to push us into that top four and gaining promotion, albeit via the back door.
"We have strengthened the squad massively over the summer and now have a squad I believe can win Division One, and a squad not far from where we were during 2001-2008." The Chigs have also entered the London Junior Cup.
Slater predicts that North London Raiders B, London Maccabi Lions C and FC Team A, along with Brady Maccabi, will push them for the top spot.
James Ryan will bolster Chigwell’s front line
It's been all change at Brady Maccabi who this season are under the new management of Joshua Rosenfeld with the aid of Simon Hakim and Jamie Klein. The club has lost a number of players including Adam Harvey and Jerome Colmans with goalkeeper Oli Colmans, Robert Kleinman and veteran Jason Sears remaining the focal point of the team.
Promotion is the clear priority for Rosenfeld who said: "We finished fifth last year and were not far off going up if a couple of results had gone our way. This season we look to push on. There is no reason why we can't achieve our goal if we all work hard together.
"This year, we have 18 new boys who are fully committed and technically very good. We have boys who are dying to wear the red shirt and play for the badge."
With Mitch Young back at the helm of FC Team A, it's clear that they mean business. Having finished third in Division Two last year, Young has raided the club's Saturday team with several top players coming into the squad.
Jules Noti, Jon Breger, Adam Rones, Rich Sternberg and Richard Salmon, who replaces James Ryan, will give the team a solid spine with keeper Justin Simons, Marc Hecht, Jason Wood and Yoni Benari joining the fray from MSFL rivals.
Young said: "We hope to be challenging near the top of the table and if we can clinch a promotion spot that would be a great achievement.
"Division One is a massive step up to what we have been used to playing in and it will be a very tough challenge. I believe if we can get off to a good start then we will be in the reckoning but the division will be very tight."
Predicting another "big season" from teenage sensation Danny Moss, Young sees Raiders, Chigwell, Montana and Brady as the main threats. He said: "I think it is going to be a very close league with little between the top and bottom."
Mark Engel will lead the charge of Division One new boys Southgate Harmen B. New signings include Leeds J-Uni pair Anthony Hayman and Daniel Amram, along with Jamie Myers and Michael Rhodes. Stalwarts Paul Gold, Simon Gold and Mark Dreifuss have retired.
Engel believes that Amram, Ashley Burns, Dan Beckwith, Hayman and Burns will be the ones to watch and he claims that his team "fears no-one".
Engel said: "We will continue to build a strong squad with the right attitude and see what happens. We have a cracking group of players and I'm really excited to see how far we can go. We're a younger, fitter and hungrier team. However, it is about enjoying Sunday morning and improving week on week."
Montana Boca United A finished fourth last season. Marc Ziedman's men had the division's best defensive record and took four points from eventual champions North London Raiders A.
Promotion is the target for the team that has signed Josh Mirwis from Hendon, Phil Jessel from Camden and James Sandler from Southgate Harmen. Alex Haffner and Simon Hecker return from dislocated shoulders and club captain Adam Osper from a groin problem. Jason Wood, Toby Lustigman, Zac McLeod, Anthony Goodmaker and Adam Newman have departed while Simon Peterman is away until March. Keeper Daniel Cohen along with Mitchell Green will be looking to build upon impressive first seasons.
Jamie Kyte is one of the youngest managers in the JC MSFL. London Maccabi Lions C believe that he is the man who can take them to the next level.
James Gold and Danny Carr will spearhead their challenge with David Kosky keen to prove himself up top. Free agent Josh Colman has also joined. The manager has tipped Henry Ziff, Jon Steinberg and new boy Ilan Ben Zion to impress.
Kyte said: "At Lions, winning is everything. We're hoping to go unbeaten and make our way into the Premiership to join the other Lions teams. Along with winning the league, we hope to lift Peter Morrison."
Asked for a favourite, Kyte said: "It's a strong division and all teams look capable of causing problems. Apart from ourselves we think Chigwell and Brady will give us a good run for our money."
North London Raiders B, last season's Division Two winners, are quietly confident. Dan Grossman will bolster the back line with manager Rob Richman believed to be close to clinching a few more signings. Jeremy Barnett is the only absentee after joining Temple Fortune B.
Richman said: "I have full faith that the players who did so well for us last year will be able to make the step up." He has tipped Lewis Blitz and Nicky Woolf to have "big seasons".
Captain Rick Sherman will spearhead Raiders' challenge, having been restricted to only four games because of injuries, exams and the marathon. Richman said: "Rick will be like a new signing and we hope his commanding presence and dry Leeds humour can push us on to great things."
Like some of his counterparts, Richman predicts a close race. "There are a number of very decent teams and I don't see any matches where three points will come easily. We are under no illusions that Division One will be a big step up but we are very excited by the challenge."
Michael Winehouse is looking to improve Redbridge Jewish Care B's fortunes. He said: "I want a top four finish. We have a very young squad, most of which competed in Division Four last season when I was with the club's C team. With a blend of those players plus an experienced core we hope it will be a great season." Much is expected from Jake Sanders.Winehouse believes that FC Team and Brady will be the teams to beat.
Oakwood harbour promotion aspirations of their own, although they could start on the back-foot with keeper Alex Krotosky still recovering from a knee operation. Mark Glucksman, last season's No. 1, has retired. They have signed Ilan Scorah from Hendon A but otherwise kept their squad intact from last year.
Established in 1991, Camden Park will be led by Jamie Lustigman this season. They have lost energetic midfielder Michael Goldberg to Temple Fortune and one of the biggest challenges facing the manager over the summer is bringing down the average age of the squad, which last season stood at 40. It appears that they have it all to do to avoid the drop.