They may have a new name and new colours, but it will be a case of same old result.
That’s the verdict of the Illawarra Premier League’s (IPL) clipboard carriers who have backed Dapto Dandaloo - almost to a man - to sweep to the season’s top honours.
In a Mercury poll conducted on the eve of the 2012 campaign, 10 of the 11 rival coaches contacted tipped the fledgling franchise to be the team most likely to win the premiership other than their own. The remaining coach abstained from voting.
It’s a script with which the region’s football fanatics have been well versed after Dandaloo pillaged all four trophies last year. That was before they joined forces with local rivals Dapto to create a new entity - the Fury.
In other intriguing results from the poll, the IPL bosses predicted:
❏ Coniston to be the competition’s surprise packets.
❏ Fernhill to be the side most likely dragged into the relegation dogfight.
❏ An open race for the George Naylor Medal as the season’s best player with no less than eight individual players attracting support.
❏ The gong for top marksman to be a fight between Ricky Zucco and Brad Boardman.
The endorsement of the Fury as the side most likely to win the grand final comes as no great surprise.
Their quest for a trophy-laden introduction to the league has already started after they won the Fraternity Club Cup, the annual preseason competition. That was despite being drawn out of a hat from three group runners-up to progress to the semi-finals.
Their opponents in the Fraternity Club Cup final, Coniston, have shown enough under Yani Sekuloski’s reign to suggest they will be the big surprise packet according to opposition coaches. The Lions (four votes) are tipped to exceed expectations after winning promotion last season. Bulli and Wollongong United also won plaudits, scoring two votes each.
Fernhill could be set for another season in the IPL basement after attracting six votes from rival coaches when pressed on which team was most likely to finish in the bottom three. Coniston (two) were the only other outfit to attract multiple votes for the category.
Darren Stone’s quest for back-to-back George Naylor Medals doesn’t appear misguided with the Tarrawanna playmaker winning support on four counts. Noel Spencer, Chris Jackson, Chris Smith, Alvin Ceccoli, Zucco, Boardman and Peter Gaffney each scored one vote. Zucco also appears well placed to repeat his goal-scoring heroics of last season, winning a vote of confidence to snare successive Golden Boot awards. He trialled with the Wellington Phoenix over the IPL lay period and should meet stiff competition from Boardman to be the leading talisman after the pair headed voting with four each.
The IPL season began in earnest last night when Albion Park hosted Coniston at Terry Reserve.