By Gary Stocks
The West Australian Amateur Football League season is approaching the fork in the road. The point where clubs either head north, finals bound, or south, in a scrap to avoid relegation.
The competition is tight, particularly in the middle part of the ladder, where the O’Rourke Realty A-Grade team finds itself after seven completed rounds. North Beach is fourth with four wins and tomorrow confronts eight-placed Mt Lawley.
Looking at it purely on ladder terms, it might seem as though it is an opportunity to consolidate a place in the top five. And it is, but Mt Lawley will prove a difficult hurdle to overcome. Despite the positions on the table, in real terms, there is just one win separating the clubs.
And the Hawks have been in good touch of late, evidenced by their seven-goal win over 2013 grand finalists University before last week’s bye. They have some capable key forwards, some class through the midfield and a strong will.
Playing them at Hamer Park makes the assignment even tougher, but the Beach is up for the challenge.
The club will also welcome some key players with ruckman Alex Hack, midfielder Cody Enders and utility player Sam Lamont all coming back into the team which rounded out its pre-bye activities by beating West Coast Cowan a fortnight ago.
Having won three matches in succession, the Beach is upbeat; a number of new faces who arrived at the club in the off-season are melding together, getting an understanding of each other and the game plan devised by coach David Hynes.
The mood is vibrant right through the grades, but the A-Grade team is keen to set a benchmark as the club’s flag bearer.
All seven teams representing North Beach are in the top half of their respective ladders, but the challenges this weekend loom large – from the A-Grade right through to the Express Bins E2-Grade, who are looking to find a replacement coach for Kane Kuenen, who must step aside because of pressing family commitments.
The Credent Financial Services A-Reserves play sixth-placed Mt Lawley, but again the difference is one game, while the Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts, who sit third, will confront the eighth-placed Mt Lawley.
While the A-Grade teams had a bye last week for State duties, and were well represented by “Freddie” Alone, Christian Bottechia and James Lee, the other four teams all went into battle and come home with a clean sweep.
Bill Duckworth has the Cabling Network Solutions D1-Grade humming at the top of the ladder, but they play arch rival North Fremantle (fourth) at Percy Doyle. The Hybrid Linings D1-Reserves are also on top of the table, with the Maggies sitting second, while in the Brett Jones Colts, North Beach is third and North Freo are eighth.
In the E2-Grade, where stalwart Daniel Stocks will play his 100th game for the club, the challenge is Willetton in a match which pits second against third. Both clubs have lost just one game, indicative of the chasm between the top three clubs and the rest.
Fixtures Round 8-9,
Saturday, June 14
O’Rourke Realty A-Grade
Mt Lawley v North Beach, Hamer Part, 2.30pm
Credent Financial Services A-Reserves
Mt Lawley v North Beach, Hamer Park, 12.35pm
Coast to Coast Imports Phil Scott Colts
Mt Lawley v North Beach, Hamer Park, 10.40am
Cabling Network Solutions D1-Grade
North Beach v North Fremantle, Percy Doyle Oval, 2.30pm
Hybrid Linings D1-Reserves
North Beach v North Fremantle, Percy Doyle Oval, 12.35pm
Brett Jones Colts
North Beach v North Fremantle, Percy Doyle Oval, 10.40am
Express Bins E2-Grade Willetton v North Beach, Burrendah Reserve, 2.30pm