The race for Division 2 comes to a climax
A fascinating scenario has developed in the North West Sydney Football Over 45s Division 1 this season as the division prepares to be split into a top six division one and a bottom four division two. Every team will have played each other once after this weekend and only two catch-up games remain, the top four having been established for some time already.
There are so many combinations, but with the teams in positions six to nine in combat with each other, any one of three teams could realistically join Ryde Saints United in the poisoned chalice of division one for the rest of the season. You see, aside from the top four teams in the division, laden with former local Premier League players with the odd NSL player and even a Scottish league striker, this division is the one that no one else wanted to play in. A short-lived five-team super division involving teams from the Hills competition ended when the visiting teams returned to their own competition, leaving league officials with no choice but to combine divisions one and two to make a single competition with a view to sorting the wheat from the chaff in a first round of games.
The bottom six teams are typically a motley crew of mates, some of whom can play a bit, mostly out of shape and in no state to be running around for ninety minutes chasing shadows against a team of superstars. The prize for securing a spot in the bottom four and hence division two is a home and away series against the three other worst teams in the league to see who becomes premiers. All winnable and most likely evenly-matched games for all teams involved. What’s more, there is a finals series that will involve semi-finals and a final, so a guaranteed seven games, maybe eight if your team makes it to the division two grand final. Contrast that with the top six, who will play each other once, with the bottom two missing out on finals altogether, so playing only five more games. What’s more, given the results from the first part of the season, there is a high likelihood that the bottom two teams in the six-team division one after the split will be cannon-fodder for the four stronger teams. Hardly an inspiring way to keep your team together for the 2024 season.
What a situation! So, have the prospective bottom-four teams started to tank yet? It certainly looks that way. When Beecroft FC Blue surrendered 10-0 to render their goal difference useless, and then gifted their clubmates at Beecroft FC White their first win of the season last week, they all but cemented themselves in division two. Epping FC White forfeited their game to edge further down the ladder, while Epping Eastwood were swept aside by West Ryde Rovers and then lost a further catch-up game on Monday night by a healthy margin to help their cause of reaching the golden ticket of division two. That leaves only two games this weekend to find the final sacrificial lambs for division one. West Ryde Rovers entertain Epping FC White, while Beecroft FC Blue travel to Epping Eastwood safe in the knowledge that their horror goal difference will keep them in the bottom four irrespective of their result. What’s more this is the King’s Birthday long weekend, traditionally one of the hardest weekends of the season to field a team, with players off doing other things. Don’t be surprised if there are late forfeits as players realise that they’ve got a family event on or they’re due up the coast for the weekend.
*** STOP PRESS : Rumours are out that Epping FC White have forfeited their fixture, meaning that there is only one game left this weekend. That forfeit results in a 3-0 defeat for the Epping team, pushing West Ryde Rovers into 6th place. Will Beecroft FC Blue gift a point to Epping Eastwood?
Stand by for one intriguing fixture this weekend.