By James Ward
Luke Virgili is hoping a new coach and a handful of fresh faces will help Broadmeadow back to where they want to be in 2020.
The Magic captain will lead a new-look Broadmeadow side when the delayed 2020 NNSW NPL season eventually starts.
Broadmeadow have lost plenty of quality with Josh Piddington retiring, while striker Kale Bradbery and reigning Graham Jennings Medal winner Mitch Oxborrow have joined Lambton.
But new coach Anthony Richards has recruited strongly, with Sam and Tom Walker arriving from Lake Macquarie, while Tom Smart joins from Charlestown Azzurri.
Sam Walker, the 2018 Jennings medalist, scored 40 goals for the Roosters across the last three seasons and will be expected to form a deadly combination with former Newcastle Jets attacker James Virgili.
Mitch Rooke has also arrived from NPL NSW 1 club Manly United, while Jack Graham has joined from second tier Hakoah Sydney City East.
The club decided to make a big change in the off-season with Richards taking on the top job, replacing Ruben Zadkovich as the head coach, after a couple of years as assistant.
It was a case of so close yet so far for Broadmeadow in 2019. After scraping into fourth spot on the final day of the season, the side were then seconds away from another grand final berth, only to be denied by a late Maitland equaliser in the second leg of their semi-final.
Magic had no problems in front of goal last season, amassing 46 goals – the best in the competition – with more than two-thirds of the strikes coming at their favourite Magic Park. The new combinations will need to eventuate quickly to maintain that high level of attacking output.
The boys from Broadmeadow endured all the highs and lows of football last season and the players will be desperate to return to the finals arena.
Losing the quality of players Magic has would hurt any football team, although the club prides itself on its consistency and skipper Virgili said expectation would remain high for season 2020.
“There is always a difference when a new coach comes in as they bring their own ideas and style of play. Richo has concentrated more on our fitness and making sure we’re ready to go,” Virgili said.
“We have a new look squad with a few older boys retiring and losing a couple of players but we’ve signed a few and we’re also relying on a couple of young boys who have been around the squad for the last year to step up and make a position theirs.
“That’s always our goal [to be at the top]. As a club and a playing group we want and expect to be there or thereabouts.”
Filling the void of Oxborrow, Bradbery, Piddington and Justin Broadley will be a tough ask, although Richards has recruited positively and will bring the squad together to form a tight-knit group.
The red and yellow have qualified for the finals consecutively over the last five years and will expect to feature in the play-offs again with a challenge for top spot not out of their reach.
Broadmeadow Magic F.C
Coach: Anthony Richards
Captain: Luke Virgili
Last Season: Fourth, semi-finalists
Ins: Jack Graham (Hakoah Sydney City East – NPL NSW 2), Lachlan Watson (Unionistas CF – Spain), Mitch Rooke (Manly United – NPL NSW), Sam Walker (Lake Macquarie), Tom Smart (Charlestown Azzurri), Tom Walker (Lake Macquarie)
Outs: Josh Piddington (retired), Justin Broadley, Kale Bradbery (Lambton), Kristian Brymora (Green Gully – NPL VIC), Mitch Oxborrow (Lambton), Paul Bitz