NEWFM Northern League One – Grand Final Preview

October 29th, 2020

First Grade – New Lambton FC v Singleton Strikers

Magic Park – Saturday 5pm

For New Lambton and Singleton, perhaps the biggest thing the 2020 NEWFM Northern League One first grade grand final represents is progress.

The Eagles and Strikers will do battle for the championship as part of the Newcastle Permanent Premier Competitions Finals Series and, while only one will walk away with the trophy as the sun sets over Magic Park on Saturday evening, both will know the 2020 season has provided them the base on which to build future success.

For New Lambton, the appointment of Tom Davies as first grade coach has proved a masterstroke. The young coach led the Eagles to the premiership in his first season in charge of the club’s top grade side and is 90 minutes away from completing a historic premiership-championship double, a feat completed only twice in the last seven seasons.

For the Eagles, a powerhouse club of the 1970s that have not played in the top division of Northern NSW Football since 1981, a premiership-championship double would prove their ambition to return New Lambton to the club’s glory days has the potential to be realised.

For Singleton, it is fair to say not many would have even predicted the Strikers to qualify for the finals, let alone challenge for the premiership in 2020. But Singleton achieved that goal for the first time in 16 years, losing just two games all season as they pushed New Lambton all the way for the premiership.

While many expected Singleton to fall away in the finals having already overachieved during the 2020 campaign, the Strikers refused. Instead, they created more history in qualifying for the club’s first grand final since 1992.

Their progression is a testament to first grade coach Brendan Slade and his players who have transformed Singleton into a young, fit and hungry outfit with limitless potential at this level. It is why they are still playing on the final weekend in October rather than some more fancied, more experienced sides.

Davies said he was proud of his players and their achievements so far.

“I’m definitely proud of the effort, especially winning the premiership,” Davies said.

“That was one of the things we set out to achieve as a group and I think it’s pretty important in football to get that top spot.

“To get to the final as well and play for the championship, I said to the group last week over the last few years, even with Cooks Hill’s dominance, not a lot of teams have been able to win both.

“It’s a really difficult thing to go put your stamp on this competition. But when we set out in November last year, all those months ago, it’s a box we wanted to tick and I’m excited for the boys and for the team and the club that they’ll get to experience a grand final.”

Slade also said he was proud of his team who have continued to defy those who said they could not maintain their success.

“We set goals like every other club at the start of the season to make the finals. We started to string a few wins together and people started to think it might be possible. It was just about being consistent after that,” Slade said.

“I’m super proud of them. They’re a great bunch of guys. So easy to get along with. There’s no big egos, everyone just goes out to do their job and play for one another. I think that has been key, that mentality of wanting to fight for each other.”

While previous meetings always count for little in grand finals, Singleton do have a distinct advantage over New Lambton. The Strikers have beaten the premiers twice this season, including a 2-1 victory at Alder Park in round seven in August thanks to captain Hayden Nicol’s winner.

Singleton then made a statement with a 4-0 victory over the Eagles in the major semi-final, confirming their passage through to the grand final in the process.

New Lambton though showed great resilience to bounce back with a 2-0 win over Cooks Hill United in the preliminary final to earn a shot at the title and the potential to gain revenge on Singleton for that humbling defeat a fortnight ago.

Davies said his side had learnt much from that loss, particularly mentally.

“The approach you have to have in a final, I think that’s what we took out of it,” Davies said.

“And also no matter what happens in a game to pull together and keep fighting to win until the final whistle. That’s what we spoke about as a group. I’ve got no concerns in terms of that.

“I know the boys are keen to bounce back against Singleton. We’ll make sure our focus is to keep to our way of playing and focus on getting the best result on the day. I think the boys are excited to experience the build up and obviously get stuck in and leave it all out there.”

As for Singleton, Slade said his side would be inspired by the support from the local community which had thrown itself behind the club.

“It would be huge for Singleton to win a grand final. Just incredible,” Slade said.

“Singleton, Muswellbrook, those sorts of areas are massive on their sport. They really get behind the different codes in everything they do because they are representing our area.

“It will be huge. I’ve said to the players when you retire you always look back on your achievements and winning a grand final is something no one can take away from you. And as a club, you’ll always be remembered.”

Also on Saturday, Toronto Awaba take on Kahibah in the under-18s grand final, while New Lambton face Kahibah in the reserve grade decider.



Round 7 – New Lambton 1-2 Singleton Strikers at Alder Park

Major Semi-Final – New Lambton FC 0-4 Singleton at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility


Road to the grand final

New Lambton FC

Major Semi-Final – New Lambton FC 0-4 Singleton Strikers at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility

Preliminary Final – New Lambton FC 2-0 Cooks Hill United at Arthur Edden Oval


Singleton Strikers

Qualifying Final – Singleton Strikers 1-0 Kahibah FC at Howe Park

Major Semi-Final – New Lambton FC 0-4 Singleton Strikers at Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility

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