Obviously by popular demand but also by me having a lucrative offer from Todd and Doc to return to this difficult task of picking likely winners in local sport here goes for Winter Season 2014.
Mind you any offer from the Dynamic Duo had to be an improvement on the half pay they subjected me to due to a couple of poor calls early last season.
Also lucky to be here after I was detained at an Indian airport earlier this week at the end of my stint reporting on the IPL cricket competition.
Officials had some questions on how I arrived there with the backside out of my jeans and left wearing a suit?
Convinced them I had received an advance on my pay from Todd and Doc.
With Waikerie returning to A1 Division this season there are three games in that competition plus A2 matches at the Loxton Stadium in the Anzac Day opening of season 2014.
The first match will see Barmera take on Loxton North with the Marg Lambert Anzac Medal to be presented to the Best Player on Court. Loxton versus Waikerie then Berri against Renmark will then follow in turn.
Some three seasons ago both the Barmera and Loxton North clubs announced rebuilding policies with a concentration on developing juniors and when these two teams meet first up tomorrow night a settled North appears set to benefit from its strict campaign while Barmera, with the unfortunate loss of some key players still has the rebuilding sign out.
LOXTON NORTH, with Kylie Wooldridge still at the coaching helm, has retained Hannah Learhinan, Marlee George, Jordan Jachmann, Ellie Thomas, Erika Sporn and Courtney Proud and has added former player Alyce Worsfold, Lori Sandland (Mid South East) and Krystal Butler (Barossa). That`s impressive.
BARMERA, under on going coach Gaylee Drogemuller, will have some big guns missing including Alyce Kelsh, Mackella Armfield, and Katie Saville (to Loxton) but still has Sue Whitbourne, Cobie Drogemuller, Meg Gillespie and Bailey Miller and will concentrate on more juniors including Annabel O`Dea and look at promoting Kari Johns and Bronwyn Smith.
Loxton North should win first up with something to spare.
WAIKERIE to play 2013 runner up Loxton will be without Ashleigh Smith, Jo Schmidt and Julia Golding but after the pre season challenge to keep the club healthy it looks okay under coach Felicity Ziegler. Star Hannah Lehmann is available for A1 level while again juniors will be considered to join regulars like Ashleigh Potter and Lauren Oswald.
LOXTON on the other hand under new coach Ali Uren certainly look as impressive as last season despite the absence of Sally and Pip Wright. Stalwarts Jackie Dahlitz and Eve Will are still there with sharp shooter Alysha Proud, Amber George, Skye Beachamp (nee George) and Leah Uren while Holly Bullock, Megan Frost, Kate Westbrook, Mel Loxton and the returning Sharona Edwards are in the squad. Add two more than handy recruits in Katie Saville and Berri`s Ebony Hoffmann to round off a pretty strong unit.
Loxton should win on Friday night.
BERRI after promising so much at times in the last couple of seasons has been hit hard by the unavailability of injured playing coach Tori Brown. Add Ebony Hoffmann, Michelle Wenman, Apryl Krollig and Tegan Moldovan to the losses and new coach Carolyn Martin faces a tough challenge. That will be partly met by the availability of former young star Ellie Eleftheriadis from Adelaide while Martin, Kyla Wade and Amy Henwood are still in the line up.
RENMARK, the reigning champion, makes its now normal start under long serving mentor Ann Noack by announcing key losses, this time in young super star Emily Garrett, Kelly Nelson and Kerryn Van Dyk. But believe me as in 2013 it will be business as usual for Ann with the abundance of youngsters being produced by the club`s junior program plus Kerri Turk and Reeni Leuders being available again. Retained are a formidable list including Sonja and Anita Modlinski, Denikah Gartery, Hannah Foody, Sophie Croft and Elyse Steed.
That is awesome and Renmark should get off to a comfortable winning start.
Drawing on the considerable value I got from some mates in India tipsy`s prediction for the final four at the end of the minor round is Renmark, Loxton, Loxton North, Waikerie, Barmera and Berri. Renmark versus Loxton North in the grand final, Renmark for the premiership.
The great game is back and kicks off with rematches of the 2013 grand finalists on Anzac Day, Loxton North against Barmera Monash at Panther Park in the A grade and Paringa against Blanchetown Swan Reach at Renmark in the Independents.
LOXTON NORTH is being promoted as favourite for the 2014 A GRADE flag after ongoing coach Craig Wooldridge master minded an upset win over the Roos in last year`s grand final.
Losses from the Panthers are not excessive but they are formidable as they include Premier Sports “Young Gun” Lachie Hentschke, Ben Miller, Nathan Brown and Tom Stevenson.
However the number of recruits enters double figures and includes highly regarded Scott Meneghetti, Tyron George and returning Blake Milich.
BARMERA MONASH, the dominant side for all but the final outing in 2013, has been hard hit by losses including Tyler Baldock, Callan Buchecker, Marc and Sam Elliott, Jack Perry, Aaron Manning, Josh Graetz and veteran big man Robert Price but reappointed coach Shane Uren still has talent galore to work with. That includes the return of star Mal Greenwood, speedster Tyson Schrapel from Berri and Chris Bonney back from West Adelaide while the club has recruited strongly including names like Aaron Dart (Henley), Sam Daniel, Hayden Riede and Bradley Flood.
These two Anzac Day contestants will both deliver crack lineups–Tipsy tips the Panthers but by less than a goal in a thriller.
On Saturday Loxton is at home to a rather quiet Waikerie that is perhaps avoiding the pre season favouritism tag that put pressure on it in the last couple of seasons.
One thing that should be said is that all clubs may still have some surprises up their sleeve with the Tigers and Magpies no exceptions.
LOXTON has lost several of its ‘travelling brigade’ in Jackson Fielke, Tom Butler and Bennet Copping while Raph Liddle is unavailable but new coach Grant Fisher welcomes back Ryan Smith and may unearth some more exceptional youngsters.
WAIKERIE, also with a new coach in Shayne Stevens, has some important losses including versatile Andrew Bachmann but the shrewd heads at the Magpie camp are also watching some outstanding junior talent and have added Adam Braendler, Elliott Modra and Matt Wilson to an already strong squad.
Waikerie are tipped in this one.
BERRI hosts Renmark in the other game on Saturday and is another club that has cleared a host of players as Terry Eleftheriadis puts his hand up to coach the proud Demons back to better health. The outs are too many to mention but include Jake Langdon, Jamie Milburn, Steve Raeder, Tyson Schrapel, Ryan Porter, Gary Dean and Ryan Langcake.
But the recruiters at the Demon camp have been busy and it will be interesting to see how they line up with Martin Barber, Brad Dolling and Geordie Franks back in the guernsey and new comers including Matthew Hamilton, Matthew Allen and several others.
RENMARK has been very quiet pre season but that would suit ongoing coach and club legend Jon Persinos. Jake Mazzone is a major loss but incoming are a number of players from Kilburn , Billy and Kyle Parks and Adam Clutton, Sam Bamford from Sydney, Ash Lindner returns and several others also arrive.
In this game Renmark just.
Picking a likely final four in this competition is tough after the first three–Loxton North, Waikerie and Barmera Monash. The Crystal Ball tells me Renmark for fourth by a whisker from Loxton with Berri sixth.
In the INDEPENDENT competition bring on the Paringa versus BSR game tomorrow after the Swans did a Houdini to grab the flag in one of the great Indy grand finals in 2013.
PARINGA has lost some key players including Damien Heinicke, Roy Grenfell and Dean Hill but has recruited strongly under premiership coach Nick Dillon. Kieran Sharley, Ben Townsend and Linden Goodman appear handy additions.
BSR on the other hand have not bothered the Clearance Officer as much. Mat McPherson takes over from Peter Zadow as coach and loses important players Andrew Bajski, Jamie Tanner and Max Martinson. But McPherson and brother Brett and a few returning players should cover the losses and there is still the lethal Troy Cowland/Dale Payne combination intact.
Paringa but only just.
On Saturday Moorook Kingston meets the reborn Lyrup, Ramco plays Cobdogla and Wunkar is at home to Browns Well.
It is interesting to see a number of East Murray players appearing in new colours after the unfortunate withdrawal of the Tigers from the competition.
MOOROOK KINGSTON has lost a few including Jack Barker and Emanuel Ellis Yolmen but it has gathered a host of first choice reinforcements including returning Travis Voigt and a half dozen or so from Barmera Monash.
LYRUP is all new and all unknown after working tirelessly to return to the competition after missing 2013.
However in Roy Grenfell, Damien Heinicke, Steve Raeder, Dean Hill, Dom Portolesi, Craig McGorman, Marcus Owen etc, etc, etc the Lions have obvious quality amongst quantity and in fact are chosen to win under coach Aarod Westley.
Ramco and a very quiet Cobdogla should produce a close contest.
RAMCO has Mark McDonald from Waikerie as playing coach and with more outs than ins is acknowledging a rebuilding phase boosted by the addition of Justin Ward. Ricky Carter, Bryce Matthews and Daniel Donnelly will be missed.
COBDOGLA shrugs off silence to reveal that while it will be without players like Anthony Lippis, John Farr and Ben Crosbie it has added Matt Raison from Moorook Kingston, returnee Troy Dawson and Steve Thomas while coach Steve de Jager may still have some handy additions to announce and he has some outstanding youth to work with..
Cobdogla are chosen to win first up.
The WUNKAR Bulldogs under coach Mick Durdin are up and about barking some ten new arrivals and few departures.
A number of returning players plus Daniel and Lachie Hampel, Jayce Golding and Brenton Reid gives the club depth and the potential to surprise.
BROWNS WELL on the other hand has not been far away in the last couple of seasons.
With Steve Smith back as coach it will be well led and despite the loss of star Brad Williams, Geordie Franks and several others its already impressive list will be boosted by a number returning including Justin and Shaun Martin and highly rated recruit Mark McConnell.
The Bombers in an entertaining clash.
And the final four. Even the super talented Tipsy has only one word. HELP.
Paringa, Lyrup, BSR and Browns Well.