Northcote City would have done amazingly well to emulate the incredible success of 2013, winning the final iteration of the Victorian Premier League, a title built on a string of consecutive wins in the early part of the season.
2014, brought along many changes, from the National Premier League inauguration to a heavy squad turn over, leaving Goran Lozanovski’s men focused on consolidation, rather than the lofty heights of the previous season.
Departures of the calibre of Milos Lujic, Michael Eager, Dean Piemonte, Bonel Obradovic, Alex Rojas, Hayden D’Agostino and Melbourne Victory bound Rashid Mahazi would have tested the mettle of any club.
The saying ‘opportunity knocks’ was never more relevant as Lozanovski went about rebuilding his team, drawing on the prodigious talent in the Under 20 team in a drive to challenge the upper echelon of the league table in years to come.
Reflecting on the start to the year, Lozanovski said, “It was always going to a massive challenge given the departures we had from last season, it is no coincidence that Milos, Eagar, Bones and Deano all went to other clubs and their new clubs finished in the top 2 in the league this year.”
In dealing with those challenges, the former Socceroo has found a silver lining.
“It has been a blessing in disguise, it has given me the chance to promote players like Jonathan Bounas, Wade Dekker, Aaron Ward, Anthony Rizk, Jacob Eliopoulos, and others into our senior system, this will only hold us in good stead for the future as we have been able to expose these youngsters to senior football earlier than expected and the experience they would have gained from it is second to none.”
Asked if he expected to see more changes to the current playing group Lozanovski was philosophical.
“We have already lost our captain Adrian Chiappetta to Oakleigh for next season, which is gut wrenching and it looks like Liam Wooding won’t be returning from Adelaide which is also a massive blow. However, I have enough confidence in our youngsters coming through as well as some shrewd recruiting which will do us well going forward. At the end of the day our club doesn’t have the luxuries of paying exorbitant amounts of money but we are comfortable with that, we will continue with our philosophy or developing and promoting youngsters through our system. This way has proved successful since I’ve been here so we’ll stay on that path.”
When questioned into what players in particular he will be looking to recruit to the club, Lozanovski was coy, saying he has “certain players in mind, some from the lower leagues, there is some quality talent if you look hard enough, while on the other hand there are enough talented players just itching to have a go at senior NPL level that we have targeted also.”
So it’s all eyes on 2015.
Northcote City pulled the curtain on another successful 2014 season with a very worthy 1-0 away win against Hume City in Broadmeadows Valley Park while the Under 20s produced another emphatic performance with a resounding 6-1 win against their opponents.
After the game, a very proud Under 20s head coach Alex Gymnopoulos took the time to reflect on the season.
“I am extremely proud of the boys this year, they have been fantastic from the word go. It is always challenging coaching kids at this level and age group but I can sincerely say we have a fantastic group of kids here at our club.”
“We had Jonathan Bounas, Aaron Ward, Luke Gavalas, Anthony Rizk, Nasr Said, Ricky Gonzalez, Jacob Eliopoulos, Steve Sifinos, Chris Di Bartolo and Chris Oghanna all feature in our seniors this year and in recent years. That’s a fantastic result for our club in terms of player development but a testament to our coach Goran Lozanovski who has faith in playing our kids.
Alex also spoke about having a sound environment around the club as reason for the continued success and development of the young talent, “I cannot praise my assistant David Kalifatidis and team manager Jack Sidiropoulos enough. David is such an amazing mentor to these lads it’s amazing, when I see the interaction between them it’s not just coach to player but it’s like friend to friend. The kids adore him and trust him and take his advice on board, that’s how much respect they have for him. As for Jack, well another amazing Northcote City person, he just loves the club, has been involved for over 30 odd years, it’s incredible, and the love and respect he has for the kids in reciprocated in full.”
Finally, Gymnopoulos paid tribute to departing captain Adrian Chiappetta and Liam Wooding, who will return to South Australia after one season with the club.
“Chippa has been one of our clubs most loyal servants, he arrived in 2009 so he has spent some amazing years here in terms of the success we have had as a club. He and his family became part of our club from the moment he arrived as a young boy and now he departs as a man, I just want to thank him for everything he has done for the club as a person and as a player. He always made sure he boys in the Under 20s were looked after, taking the time to give great advice. I just want to wish him the very best for the future and he will always be a part of our club no matter what.
“Liam although only with us for one year left a wonderful impression on all of us. He is extremely dedicated, I would regularly see him pumping out extra sessions, I can see why he was good enough to represent his country at youth level, I also want to wish him the very best for his future and thank him as well.”
Congratulations to all our staff, players and fans in this inauguaral NPL season.
Remember to stay with Northcote City through web, Facebook and Twitter to keep up-to-date on all the post-season news.
It’s the final round of the National Premier Leagues (NPL) Victoria 2014 season, and with South Melbourne having already lifted the trophy, the focus now shifts to the three-way battle for survival between Ballarat, Port Melbourne and Werribee City.
In what shapes as a thrilling finale to the season, the latter two will face off in Port Melbourne on Sunday, while Ballarat has the difficult task of playing away to second-placed Oakleigh.
In NPL 1, league leader Avondale Heights – already promoted – can wrap up the title with two rounds remaining if it defeats Springvale and St Albans takes points off second-placed North Geelong.
Hume City v Northcote City
5th v 7th
3.00pm, Sunday September 14, 2014
Broadmeadows Valley Park
Twitter: Live updates @nplvictoria, #HCvNC #NPLVIC
Bentleigh Greens 1-1 Hume City
Northcote City 0-1 Green Gully
Hume City: WLLWD
Northcote City: LWWLL
Last time they met:
Northcote City 0-2 Hume City, Round 13 2014
Northcote City has lost just three times in its 12 away matches this season, and will have the chance to continue its impressive record on the road in Broadmeadows on Sunday.
The poor state of Northcote’s pitch hasn’t allowed it to play its possession-based style, according to coach Goran Lozanovski, but there will be no excuses on Hume City’s pristine surface.
Look out for Hume City ‘keeper Chris Oldfield, who has been in sensational form lately and is rated as the best custodian in the NPL by his coach Lou Acevski.