JUFC return to Amateur Premier Division after six-year absence

The Football West Belt Up Amateur Premier Division kicks off this weekend and will feature Joondalup United for the first time since 2013.

That promotion winning side went on to win State League Division Two the following year before journeying all the way to the National Premier League.

During that time, another JUFC side was steadily working its way through the amateur leagues and claimed a spot in the top flight by winning Division One in 2018.

“It’s been a long time coming but six years of hard work has finally put us back in the Amateur Premier Division and we can’t wait to get started on Sunday against Wembley Downs,” said coach Ben Williams who has overseen the run from Division Three.

“This season is the first for a few years where we haven’t gone into the opening week amongst the favourites for the title and there’s no pressure, so it will be great to see how the lads express themselves when we play the top sides.”

It’s been a long preseason for the squad having kicked things off at the beach in December before the balls got moving early in the New Year, and the Football West Amateur Night Series gave Williams an indication of what to expect.

There were mixed results, with comfortable wins over Hamersley Rovers and UWA-Nedlands and disappointing defeats to Kingsley SC and Leeming Strikers.

“We will be tested week in, week out by tough opposition and to be perfectly honest I don’t know what to expect,” he said.

“I know a bit about the top teams, but others will be new to me. We want to be competitive and obviously survival is our main goal so once that box is ticked then the target will be midtable and come the last couple of months we will hopefully be in a position to push for a top half finish.

Williams has recruited heavily during preseason and added plenty of depth, as well as players who have experience playing in the Premier Division.

Blaine Slater and Mark Walsh have joined from Wembley Downs, while Curtis Wreglesworth, Ryan Williams and Liam Ryan will strengthen the backline.

Adam Taylor, who enjoyed a prolific Division One campaign in front of goal in 2017, returns to the set up after a year working overseas.

He will join Josh Kennedy-Edwards and Kyall Osborne, scorers of 42 league goals between them last season, in the JUFC attack.

Unfortunately, young midfielder Sam Rogers will miss the whole season having ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament against Leeming in the Night Series.

“We have added about 15 new faces to the squad this year and the lads can’t wait to get started at 3pm on Sunday,” said Williams.

“There is a good blend of youth across the first team and the reserves and I’m sure that the lads who have been here and done it before will be putting their arms around the young ones to make sure they’re ready.”

JUFC host Wembley Downs at Beldon Park this Sunday with the reserves kicking off at 12.45pm, followed by the first team at 3pm.