The wait is finally over, the 2019 Ultra Football Team of the Year has officially been announced in what has been a stellar season for all clubs and players involved in the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s top tier competition.
As it has been traditionally for the past thirteen seasons, Football NSW journalists have been awarding their 3,2,1 player ratings for each of the respective 132 matches played in the regular National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s season.
The below is a starting eleven and substitutes line-up that is sure to threaten any side across Australia both at state and A-League level.
Promoted side Mt Druitt Town Rangers really handled themselves well in their first year in the NPL NSW Men’s competition. One of the main reasons why the club did ever so well were down to two influential players in keeper and skipper Carlos Saliadarre and Uruguayan import Fabricio Fernandes. Saliadarre was in a league of his own, pulling off a number of fantastic saves as well as stopping a fair few penalties assisting in his side’s rise to the top. Fernandes was one of the finds of the season and has certainly thrown out his name as a fantastic import to grace the pitches across NSW.
Sutherland Sharks’ workhorse skipper Marc Warren won himself a spot in the side after a sterling year with the Shire based club. His never-say-die attitude and willingness to win every ball at any cost were constant features at Seymour Shaw and opposing grounds.
Blacktown City FC’s Grant Lynch stood tall as one of the best defenders in the leagues this year. Without a shadow of a doubt, Lynch was in sterling form, turning defence into attack on many occasions having scored a few goals and really put in the hard yards leading from the back.
An imposing figure across the NPL NSW Men’s elite, Marconi Stallions’ Nathan Millgate began life in Sydney’s West after leaving the APIA Leichhardt Tigers in fine fashion. Rarely losing an aerial challenge and always giving strikers headaches, not to mention scoring a few goals, Millgate stood out in more ways than one.
What more can be said about the ‘maestro’ of the NPL NSW Men’s competition. Franco Parisi once again turned back the clock and showed the league that he still has life in him, producing some impressive performances that took his beloved APIA Leichhardt Tigers to this year’s Final Series. Playing in the traditional number 10 role, Parisi looked like a spring chicken, and at the age of 36 continues to wow the fans who witness him in action or on the live streams.
Former A-League star Mitch Mallia was also another new figure that kicked off his career at the Stallions in 2019 on a high. On his day, Mallia is one of the best in the business across the nation, a tricky customer to come up against, his speed and finishing are what shone this year.
Yet another huge find for season 2019 was Wollongong Wolves’ Japanese import Takeru Okada. An unknown to many of the NPL NSW Men’s competition, part of the Premiers’ success this year was down to the trickery and wizardry of this Japanese superstar who is sure to put more smiles on faces for the locals at WIN Stadium in 2020.
Keeping on with the theme of imports, Spanish star striker Alejandro Sanchez once more did his bit in earning a a spot in NSW’s elite eleven after yet another impressive season. Although the Blues struggled to find their 2018 form that saw them take out the double, Sanchez’ class still stood out and it was no surprise to hear he was linked with an A-League move to the Central Coast Mariners. Here’s hoping Sanchez gets that opportunity otherwise the NPL NSW Men’s competition would love to see the former La Liga star grace its pitches in 2020.
In what has been well documented this year, what was Sydney United 58’s loss was APIA Leichhardt Tigers’ gain in bagging mercurial marksman Chris Payne. An old fashioned striker that has been a constant pest for many defenders in previous NPL NSW Men’s campaigns, Payne was banging in the goals for fun at the Inner West club and showed to many he still knows where the back of the net is.
Finally, a player that really caught the eye of many both locally and nationally, Wollongong Wolves star and prized recruit, Englishman Thomas James was quite simply outstanding in his debut year in the NPL NSW Men’s competition. Bought over from the ACT Premier League, James’ speed, accuracy in front of goal and the willingness to change a game at the drop of a hat was a sight to see especially at WIN Stadium. James has really thrown his weight around as being one of the best imports to touchdown in NSW. Winning both the Premiership and Golden Boot, James has set his sights on doing more damage representing the state at this year’s NPL Finals Series.
Making up the final piece of the puzzle in what has been a truly remarkable season for the Wolves was coach and former Socceroo Luke Wilkshire. In his debut year coaching at the club, Wilkshire bought a winning mentality to the Gong that saw them crowned Premiers for 2019, something that eluded the former NSL side for many years. Although not involved in this year’s big final, Wilkshire showed that he is certainly one coach to look out for in years to come.
Special mentions to Wolves keeper Justin Pasfield, Rockdale City Suns attacker Alec Urosevski, Stallions skipper Marko Jesic, Blacktown City marksman Joey Gibbs and Manly United defender Travis Oughtred for earning spots on the substitutes list.
Congratulations to everyone who won selection into this year’s Ultra Football Team of the Year.