NPL season preview – Sparrow and Jennings relish second top flight campaign

New Joondalup United captain Matty Sparrow is looking forward to a challenging season in the National Premier League (NPL), which gets underway this weekend.

The vastly experienced midfielder knows that there will be a battle to survive in the top flight with three sides set to be relegated back to the State League, but Sparrow is aiming higher than 2017’s tenth place finish.

“The NPL is quite an open league really, we started off well last season but faded towards the end so we want to learn from that and hopefully we can be better this time,” he says.

“In the first 10 or 12 games last season no one expected us to come out and play as we did but obviously they know a bit more about us ahead of the second season in the NPL.

“We’ve got to all play to our capabilities, both individually and as a team, to get some points on the board early with three teams going down but we want to be looking at the top half of the table.”

Sparrow, who played over 400 professional games for Scunthorpe United and Brighton & Hove Albion, takes the armband from Arran Maplestone who departed for Bayswater City.

JUFC have also had to deal with the loss of 2017’s top scorer Richard Howles and Player of the Year Josh Whitmore following their moves to Perth SC and ECU Joondalup respectively.

In their place have come the likes of ex-Benfica Academy defender Fraser Garnaut, exciting forwards Elliot Tattersall and Parviz Shizadi, and defensive duo John Chalmers and Greg Pellow who have returned to JUFC having won the State League title with Western Knights last season.

“I can’t wait to get started, we’ve had a good preseason of six to eight weeks hard and all the lads are raring to go,” says Sparrow.

“There’s always going to be a turn around of players; we’ve lost a few but we’ve also gained a few good youngsters.

“We’re in good shape and it’s a good blend so far. Hopefully I can use my experience, along with Ross Edwards and James Bosdet, and we’ve got a few old boys in the team to help the young lads.”

First team coach Nick Jennings has worked hard in the offseason to bolster his squad, and he had no hesitation in handing first team contracts to teenagers Sam Wynne, Danny O’Shea and Jai Rawling.

“The offseason has seen a big overhaul of the playing group, with plenty of new faces arriving,” says Jennings, who will be assisted by Steve Flint and Rudy Proctor.

“We’ve recruited a number of young, quick and hungry players who in the main have had limited exposure to NPL first team football; these boys have quickly gelled together and have bought into the JUFC ethos.

“Something I firmly believe in is giving opportunities to individuals and age certainly is no barrier”

Overall, Jennings was pleased with the team’s preseason programme, though the loss to Subiaco AFC in the Night Series was a major disappointment.

However, wins over the likes of Forrestfield United and Gwelup Croatia has given confidence to a squad that has bonded well over the past couple of months.

“I am under no illusion that we will have to hit the ground running and the first four or five games could set the tempo for our season,” says Jennings.

“With five or six sides in the league throwing silly money around no doubt you will see the usual suspects at the top of the ladder, the remaining sides will be in a real dogfight with very little setting us all apart.”

Jennings believes that the decision to relegate three sides is excessive but also has faith in the players at his disposal to ensure that JUFC

“I believe we have enough quality to survive the second season syndrome and providing our work ethic is high throughout, then we are certainly capable of upsetting some of these big clubs like we did last year,” he says.

“The big kick off this weekend is fast approaching we’ll do a bit of fine tuning on the training ground to prepare for Armadale, but the whole squad is up and about and eagerly anticipating the first of many six pointers this year.”

JUFC head to Armadale SC on Saturday to open the season, with further away games to follow against Bayswater City and Perth Glory.

The first home game is against Subiaco AFC at Percy Doyle Reserve on Saturday, March 17.

JUFC first team squad and fixtures 2018

1. James Bosdet
2. John Chalmers
3. Fraser Garnaut
4. Danny O’Shea
5. Joel Ledsham
6. Sam Wynne
7. Matthew Sparrow (c)
8. Jason Marsden
9. Alex Wild
10. Elliot Tattersall
11. Tony Taylor
14. Jai Rawling
15. Callum Stocks
16. Ross Edwards
17. Luke Serra
19. Adam Buckley
21 Luke Green
22. Parviz Shizadi
23. Jake Benson-Cooper
25. Greg Pellow

JUFC welcomes The Rigging Shed as major club sponsor

Joondalup United is delighted to announce that The Rigging Shed is the club’s major sponsor ahead of the new National Premier League (NPL) season.

The Rigging Shed logo will adorn the new NPL home kit, which was revealed this week at Prince Regent Park.

Based in Wangara, The Rigging Shed offers onsite and in-house solutions to all your lifting and rigging equipment requirements.

The company was founded in 2000 and services clients all across Western Australia.

“JUFC are extremely pleased to have The Rigging Shed on board again in season 2018 as not only a sponsor but as the club’s major sponsor,” said JUFC President Stephen Martin.

“Company owner Steve Flint, a long time member of the club and also assistant coach to Nick Jennings in the NPL first team for 2018, has been a continued supporter of JUFC and this year has come to the table with the biggest sponsorship deal in the clubs history.

“A further thank you goes out to the clubs sponsorship rep Dan Demidh for his work in securing the deal.”

JUFC committee members Peter Rustidge, Rudy Proctor and Dan Demidh joined Flint, first team coach Nick Jennings, and new NPL captain Matty Sparrow to announce the new sponsorship.

“The Rigging Shed is very pleased to partner with JUFC in 2018 and to be involved with a local club that has similar core values to our business,” said Flint.

“It is also pleasing to know that we are part of the local community, and helping all members of the JUFC club from the juniors through to the NPL teams with support which is very hard to find financially.”

As well as the NPL playing kits, The Rigging Shed will also sponsored the coaches’ shirt, shorts and tracksuit for the year, and have generously offered a $100 Man of the Match prize for every JUFC game.

For more information on The Rigging Shed and for a full list of the services they offer, simply head to their website.

JUFC welcomes exciting attacker Shirzadi after successful trial

With less than a week to go until the start of the National Premier League (NPL) season, JUFC has bolstered its attack with the signing of Parviz Shirzadi.

The 22-year-old has previous NPL experience with Balcatta FC and spent last season playing Amateur football with Fraser Park.

“Following a successful trial period it’s great to welcome Pav to Joondalup United for the forthcoming season,” said coach Nick Jennings.

“He has impressive technical ability and combines his individuality with an impressive work rate.

“I have always believed in giving players opportunities and having spent last season playing Sunday football, Pav is keen to make an impact at NPL level after a brief experience at Balcatta a couple of seasons ago.”

Fraser Park were convincing winners of the Amateur Division Four title in 2017, and Jennings will be hoping that his latest signing from the Amateur ranks can have a similar impact to that of Richard Howles who was the club’s top scorer in 2017 having been picked up from Carramar FC.

“I signed for JUFC because I wanted to challenge myself in the NPL competition again, as well as playing with different types of players,” said Shirzadi.

“I really like it at JUFC because there are a lot of good players in the team, the coaches and the staff are awesome and love facing new challenges.

“In terms of expectations both individually and for the club, obviously I want to help the team win games and score as many goals as I can, and just work hard to try to improve myself day by day.”

Shirzadi will wear the 22 number shirt this season and will be part of the squad for the opening game of the year against Armadale SC at Alfred Skeet Oval on Saturday night.

NPL fixtures released, JUFC head to Armadale in Round 1

The fixtures for the 2018 National Premier League (NPL) season have been released, and JUFC begin the campaign with three away fixtures.

While not ideal, it does mean that there will be a midseason run of three successive games at home when the schedule is reversed.

First up for Nick Jennings’ side is a road trip to Armadale, and the boys will be looking to improve on the 2-1 defeat suffered at Alfred Skeet Reserve last August.

“Obviously it’s a tough start with our first three games away from home,” says JUFC NPL Coordinator Rudy Proctor.

“Armadale away on a Saturday night at 7pm should be a good atmosphere and it is a game we will be looking to pick up something from.

“If we are to avoid being one of the three teams relegated this year, we will need to take points from those five or six teams that finished in the bottom half of the table last season.”

JUFC then head to Frank Drago Reserve and Ashfield Arena for games against Bayswater City and Perth Glory respectively.

“Bayswater in Round 2 is a game we will look forward to,” says Proctor.

“Last season we gave them a good contest at their place and we will have no fear going there with a young, fearless squad this year, though anything we pick up there will be a bonus in reality.”

The first game of the year at Percy Doyle Reserve comes in Round 4 when Subiaco AFC will be the visitors.

“In rounds 3 and 4 we will be looking to pick up maximum points from Perth Glory Youth and Subiaco, so really we want to have six or seven points on the board early,” says Proctor.

“We started with a bang in 2017 and we will be looking to repeat that good early season form.

“Our squad this year is really young and hungry; they cannot wait for the season to start so they can test themselves at this level.”

There are two Joondalup Derbies on the calendar, in April and July, and both games are sure to attract big crowds like those we saw in 2017.

Of the 26 games, 22 are scheduled to place on a Saturday (11 5pm or later kick offs), while there are two Friday night games on the cards, as well as one Sunday and one Wednesday game.

JUFC will end the season with a home contest against Perth SC on Saturday, August 25.

To view all of the NPL fixtures, including those for the 20s and 18s, click here.

JUFC NPL First Team fixtures 2018

Jennings boosts his NPL stocks with new signing

Callum Stocks is the latest player to sign for Joondalup United’s 2018 National Premier League (NPL) squad having impressed during preseason training.

Head coach Nick Jennings said that he was pleased to bring Stocks back into contention for a first team role after visa restrictions limited the 26-year-old’s game time in 2017.

“Callum was a key member of our State League Division Two and then Division One title winning sides,” says Jennings.

“Unfortunately, with the restrictions on via players, he was unable to be part of our first season in the NPL, but it’s great to welcome him back to the squad now that he has his Permanent Residency.

“He’s super fit and has a point to prove; I’m sure his pace and trickery are going to give a number of defenders sleepless nights this season!”

Prior to joining JUFC, Stocks played un the United Kingdom for Wisbech Town in the United Counties League (check out one his superb goals in the video below).

“I’m delighted to finally be back playing for the club I love after such a frustrating year with visa restrictions,” he says.

“I’ve been working hard in the offseason and can’t wait to get started and show what I can do at the top level in Western Australia.”

JUFC will have their first preseason hit out against State League side Gwelup Croatia on Saturday at the all-weather sporting facility in Ellenbrook.

JUFC NPL 2018
  • James Bosdet
  • Anthony Taylor
  • Fraser Garnaut
  • Jay Marsden
  • Johnny Chalmers
  • Matty Sparrow
  • Sam Wynne
  • Alex Wild
  • Elliot Tattersall
  • Jake Benson-Cooper
  • Callum Stocks

Benson-Cooper earns chance to shine in NPL with JUFC

Joondalup United has secured the signing of Jake Benson-Cooper for the 2018 National Premier League (NPL) season.

The 25-year-old has been training with Nick Jennings’ first team squad in recent weeks and has impressed the coaching staff so far.

“Jake is another great addition to our squad, he’s hungry to prove a few people wrong who have questioned whether he’s good enough to play in the NPL,” says JUFC coach Nick Jennings.

“I personally believe in his ability. His attitude and commitment in training over the last few weeks has been spot on and he’s ready to make an impact in season 2018.”

Benson-Cooper has plenty of top flight experience having played at ECU Joondalup for eight years.

In 2016, he made the switch to Quinns FC where he netted 16 goals in the State League, before moving east to spend some time in Sydney.

“I signed for Joondalup United to play a high level of football because I want to test myself,” he says.

“I want to prove my ability and show that I can perform at the highest level in Western Australia.”

Benson-Cooper becomes the tenth player to sign for JUFC ahead of the club’s second campaign in the NPL.

JUFC NPL 2018
  • James Bosdet
  • Anthony Taylor
  • Fraser Garnaut
  • Jay Marsden
  • Johnny Chalmers
  • Matty Sparrow
  • Sam Wynne
  • Alex Wild
  • Elliot Tattersall
  • Jake Benson-Cooper

Midfielder Marsden commits to another season at JUFC

Jay Marsden is the latest player to sign on the dotted line with Joondalup United for the 2018 National Premier League (NPL) season.

The tough tackling central midfielder was an integral part of JUFC’s first team in the club’s debut campaign in the top flight.

“Jay is an experienced central midfielder, he is extremely important to the side with his incredible engine and good technical ability,” says JUFC Head Coach Nick Jennings.

“I am very pleased that he has recommitted to the club for 2018 as he had a number of other clubs chasing his signature.

“However, Jay has remained loyal to JUFC and I look forward to working with him again over the year ahead.”

Marsden, who scored a superb goal in last season’s 3-1 away win over Balcatta, will be an even more important component in the JUFC midfield this season following the departures of Josh Whitmore and Arran Maplestone.

The following players are now confirmed as JUFC players for the 2017 NPL season:

  • James Bosdet
  • Anthony Taylor
  • Fraser Garnaut
  • Jay Marsden
  • Johnny Chalmers
  • Matty Sparrow
  • Sam Wynne
  • Alex Wild
  • Elliot Tattersall

JUFC sign former Perth Glory and Benfica Academy player Garnaut for 2018

Joondalup United boss Nick Jennings has spoken of his delight at securing the signature of defender Fraser Garnaut this week.

The 19-year-old has an excellent pedigree and is very welcome addition to the first team squad for the upcoming National Premier League (NPL) campaign.

“Fraser is a young, athletic left back who is confident and composed on the ball, and whenever I have seen him play he has impressed me immensely,” says Jennings.

“His attitude is absolutely spot on and he is another young player who is looking to learn and develop his game, it’s a great addition as we move forward into season 2018.”

Having come through the junior ranks at ECU Joondalup, Garnaut played with Perth Glory and the National Training Centre (NTC) before moving to Portugal where he spent nine months learning the game at the esteemed Benfica Academy.

On his return to Perth, he re-joined ECU and earned a spot in the Jacks’ NPL first team last season having excelled at 20s level.

“I found the opportunities limited at ECU and decided to move on,” says Garnaut.

“After training with other clubs, I met with Nick and very quickly decided to sign with JUFC.

“I believe that if I fully apply myself in preseason and the matches leading up to the season I will get a chance and then it’s down to me to stay in the side.

“I’m excited by the challenge here and look forward to the year ahead.”

JUFC’s NPL first team squad now comprises of James Bosdet, Fraser Garnaut, Johnny Chalmers, Anthony Taylor, Matty Sparrow, Elliot Tattersall, Alex Wild and Sam Wynne, and another re-signing will be announced in the coming days.

Flint moves into NPL first team coaching role as Reid steps down

Joondalup United is pleased to add Steve Flint to the National Premier League (NPL) first team coaching staff, with Graeme Reid stepping aside due to family and work commitments.

The experienced Flint, who holds an FFA C Licence, coached the JUFC 20s in 2017 and will work alongside Rudy Proctor and Matty Sparrow as assistants to head coach Nick Jennings.

Jennings was keen to thank Reid for all his hard work and support over the past few years as JUFC rose through the ranks of Saturday football.

“Reidy has been a huge part of the success that the club has enjoyed since my appointment as first team coach,” said Jennings.

“He was a crucial part of my management team and begind the scenes he has worked tirelessly.

“I owe him a huge thank you for everything and understand his decision that, due to family and work commitments, he is no longer able to put in the required time to carry out the role of assistant coach.”

Reid will remain with JUFC as the head coach of the Masters Central team, while Blaine Merredew and Stephen McDowall will oversee the NPL 20s in 2018.

Jennings is happy that he was able to find a replacement so close to home, and believes that Flint is a great addition to the coaching staff.

“Luckily, I have a ready made replacement within the club with Steve Flint stepping up from his role with the 20s,” he said.

“I look forward to working closely with Flinty and I welcome him to the NPL staff alongside the legend that is Rudy Proctor and player-coach Matty Sparrow.”

The NPL first team kicked off their preseason training on Tuesday night and will fit in a few more sessions before the Christmas break.

Talented midfielder Wynne signs first senior deal with JUFC

Teenager Sam Wynne will be part of Joondalup United’s first team squad for the National Premier League (NPL) after signing on the dotted line this week.

The midfielder has come through the JUFC 18s and 20s, and made his debut for Nick Jennings’ side towards the end of the last campaign.

Wynne capped off some impressive performances with his first goal against Floreat Athena in August, and Jennings is delighted to have him as part of the senior set up for 2018.

“As a club we are always looking to promote players from within and to give opportunities to those that deserve it,” he said.

“Sam came it the side for the last few games of last season following an impressive year for the 20s.

“Having just turned 18, this all-action midfielder stood up to the challenges of first team football and as a coach it was a no brainer that he would be promoted to the NPL squad for the forthcoming season.”

Wynne picked up the NPL 20s Coach’s Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year Runner Up awards at the recent JUFC Presentation Night.

He joins James Bosdet, Anthony Taylor, Alex Wild, Matty Sparrow, Johnny Chalmers and Elliot Tattersall on the list of players who have committed to JUFC for 2018.