Coniston were the surprise packets of the 2020 pre-season, firing their way into the Frat Cup final.
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic began - and football was forced into shutdown.
After more than three months off the field, Football South Coast players will make their long-awaited return this week. The re-start begins on Wednesday night when University hosts Berkeley in a Bert Bampton Cup catch-up game.
Coniston returns to the field against Albion Park on Sunday afternoon and forward Brett Wilson said his Illawarra Premier League side would look to start building momentum again.
"It's been an odd year, but I think everyone is excited to just get back out on the pitch and run again. There's a bit more freedom involved than training by yourself or going for road runs," he said.
"We came out firing [earlier in the year] and we're hoping to pick up where we left off, and take it to the top teams again.
"It's obviously always going to be hard with the stop-start nature [this season], but I think with the energy that everyone's bringing into it, there's no reason that we can't [maintain form]. I'm excited for the year ahead, even though it's just a half year."
It's been an odd year, but I think everyone is excited to just get back out on the pitch and run again.Brett Wilson
Coniston will compete in the Bert Bampton Cup's third round on the weekend of July 11 and 12, before they contest the long-awaited Frat Cup final against Wollongong United on July 19 - which was originally set to be played in mid-March. The shortened IPL season then kicks off later this month.
"It's going to be a bit interesting going into the next few weeks, preparing for a final at the same time as preparing for a season - especially after such a delayed one," Wilson said.
"United will be hard to beat, but I'm sure we're going to take it to them. Whoever wins it will have to earn it, that's for sure."
Wilson was among several representatives from clubs across the South Coast to attend a Return to Play launch at Ian McLennan Park on Tuesday afternoon.
As the Bert Bampton Cup resumes, players of all ages - including the region's juniors - will return to the field this weekend.
Port Kembla Pumas club president Anthony Timillero said his four teams couldn't wait to play again.
"Once we knew the season was starting, the boys wanted to train. They wanted to know what was going on and our committee guys were getting phone calls. And it's been all positive," he said.
"The enthusiasm has been there since day one. We've got a good base of players who have played at a high level and we're fortunate that they've kept themselves in good nick. The enthusiasm is high and the expectations are high as well."
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