By James Ward
Newcastle Olympic F.C. will be hoping the change back to their original name will bring a change in fortune that will see them return to finals football.
Founded as Newcastle Olympic in 1976, the club have been known as Hamilton Olympic since 1992.
But the club have reverted to their historic roots, with the Olympic faithful hopeful the change in name could spell a change in fortunes.
Olympic will be eager to recapture their notable winning formula after a couple of setback seasons when the postponed NNSW NPL season eventually kicks off having been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After qualifying for the semi-finals consecutively from 2015 to 2017, Olympic have had two faltering years missing out on the prized finals places. The club finished seventh last season, 13 points adrift of the finals.
Olympic’s last taste of success came in 2012 when they won the premiership, while their last grand final win was in 2009.
It was a tale of inconsistency in 2019, with the side unable to capitalise on some good performances despite showing glimpses of making a run to the play-offs.
Coach Peter McGuinness has brought in some new faces including Scotsman Anthony Marenghi, who has plied his trade in Scottish professional divisions. McGuinness has also recruited players with plenty of NPL experience in Dino Fajkovic, Blake Green and Nate Cavaliere.
In pre-season, the blue and white recorded wins over Adamstown and Valentine but encountered tough tests against NSW NPL sides Sydney Olympic and Wollongong.
The losses of Scott Pettit and Jarryd Sutherland will hurt their attacking options, although Kent Harrison showed his promise at the back end of last year and could be crucial for Olympic, while Shinichi Kawachi will also be a key player after scoring eight goals last campaign.
“We’ve had lots of games against varying levels of opposition [in pre-season]. We have managed to get a lot of football into under-20s players which has created some good competition for places as well as good levels of fitness,” McGuinness said.
“Like all other clubs, our aim is to win the competition. There are some really strong squads around at the moment so it will be a difficult league for everyone.
“Dino Fajkovic has been great since returning. I expect him to have a great year and Anthony Marenghi has the pedigree to make a real impact in this competition.
“We really have a desire to compete in finals football again, so this is our minimum.”
Beware of the sleeping giant, as the Newcastle Olympic squad will be aiming for nothing less than a finals spot, after falling short the last two seasons.
The experienced signings could be the catalyst in finding more results and putting together consecutive wins.
Olympic are always a tough team to play at Darling Street and a finals appearance isn’t out of the question in 2020.
Newcastle Olympic F.C
Coach: Peter McGuinness
Captain: Kyle Hodges
Last Season: Seventh
Ins: Anthony Marenghi (Scotland), Blake Green, Joseph Temperley (year off), Dino Fajkovic (South Cardiff), Nate Cavaliere (Edgeworth), Tom Curran (Newcastle Jets Youth)
Outs: Jarryd Sutherland (Weston), Marcus Duncan (Melbourne Knights – NPL VIC), Scott Pettit (Lambton), Tyler Warren