Women’s Premier League is set to return to Magic Park for the first time since the 2015 grand final this weekend, as returning powerhouse Broadmeadow Magic begin their 2020 season in earnest against defending champions New Lambton.
The Eagles were able to get two matches under their belts ahead of the nation-wide lockdown — a 3–3 draw against Merewether, and a 2–1 loss to Adamstown at No.2 a week later — but Magic were left on the sideline as both their Round 1 and Round 2 fixtures were pushed back due to a number of circumstances.
The first, penned in to be Broadmeadow’s triumphant return to Magic Park, was delayed due to inclement weather throughout the opening week. The second, against Thornton, was also pushed back due to a player’s COVID-19 test in the buildup.
So, when Magic runs out at home at 3pm on Sunday, July 12, it will be the first time in half a decade the club has contested a WPL match. It’s certainly a momentous occasion, and one coach Jake Curley says all the girls are “more than up for.”
“It’s been the longest preseason I think anyone has ever had, so I know myself and all the girls are just excited to get out on the park and play our 90 minutes of football,” Curley told the Women’s Chronicle ahead of the restart.
The 90-minutes ahead of them is the biggest challenge the team, and all WPL outfits, will be facing as the season gets underway.
Northern NSW Football has given the green light for five substitutions per match, but it will still “push everyone’s fitness at the start of the season, for sure,” Curley admitted.
“Our plan is just to get out on the park and see where we’re at, I know it’s going to be a bit tough because we’ve only had limited chances to train,” he said. “The main focus is finding out where we’re at, because we’ve only had one trial game so far.”
Magic will be without captain Kalista Hunter, who is serving a one-match suspension after earning herself two yellow cards in South Wallsend’s semi-final loss to New Lambton at the end of last season.
In her place, Curley promoted new signing Laura Rapley into the starting eleven. Magic’s new face last played for Warners Bay. Kobie Ferguson (knee) is also back from injury, but Gabby Brodie has been ruled out for the season with a foot fracture.
Another ‘new’ face for Broadmeadow is Adriana Jones. The W-League star will finally make her return to the Premier League this weekend for Broadmeadow, after time away from the region in Melbourne. Curley says she’ll be a focal point for their attack.
“AJ will be playing at 9 for us, and I think she’s going to be a big player for us this season, especially as we get back into the rhythm,” he said.
“She’s had time away from Northern NSW, and from the game itself, so she’ll take a bit of time to get back into the flow for sure. Once she’s there though — and I don’t think it will take her that long to be honest — she’ll be great.”