JOEYS have dusted the boots off and are ready to take to the field for another season of Northern Inland Premier League.
The Inverell-based side kicked the ball in competition together for the first time this year at the Acropolis Cup in Tamworth over the weekend.
The cup was making its return after being “lost” since 1986.
The home side claimed the spoils after going through the tournament undefeated.
Joeys made up the majority of the Tablelands side, although they did have a few extra players from Glen Innes and Guyra on Saturday.
On Sunday the side had to play the final two games with only 11 men, and were beaten by Tamworth in the last 3-nil.
They did rack up a win over Armidale, and had a high scoring three all draw with competition runners-up Kamilaroi.
They finished the weekend tied in third spot on points with Armidale, although they were behind on goal difference.
Player coach Stephen Gadd thought the concept of the renewed cup was good but questioned the timing.
“There is still a lot going on at this time of the year and it is hard to get players to commit,” Gadd said.
“It might be better to leave it until the June long weekend or something mid-season like that.”
Joeys have lost former captain Mitch Christie for the upcoming season after the police officer was transferred to Orange.
Last year’s NIPL Golden Boot winner Daniel Ferris will assume the role.
“We have lost a few old heads and might be lacking some experience this season,” Gadd said.
“But we are shaping up all right.”
Callum Dolbie will return to the side after breaking his leg last season.
Dolbie will start in reserve grade to get his confidence up before returning to the top grade.
Glen Innes’ Ben Ashton has been given the all clear to play all games this season, after missing several last year for work commitments.
Another win for the side is the addition of Harley Parkes.
Parkes has moved to the region, after previously playing several season for Coffs Harbour.
“He (Parkes) looks pretty decent and has a good touch,” Gadd said.
“He will probably come in as an attacking midfielder.”
Joeys will attempt to go that one step further after they missed out on the minor premiership by one game last year, losing to Moree in the final round.
“We missed that game and then missed out on a home semi and got beaten by OVA in the final qualifier,” Gadd said.
“I think if we won that game against Moree it might have been a different story.”
“We are still building a culture of winning and are concentrating on passing and moving for the full 90 minutes.”
“We have got reasonable numbers at training and are looking forward to the season starting.”
Joeys will host South Armidale in the opening round this Saturday.