Like the incomparable Pele on a mazy run, the Coastal Premier League had to show the cunning of a fox to navigate 2020.
While the passage of time may fog recollection, let’s put some context around the year that was.
The Coastal Premier League (CPL) was to make its debut – a brash initiative to pit the cream of the clubs from the North Coast and Mid North Coast against one another, in first and reserve grades.
That in itself – given the travel and organisation required – was a gamble as much as it was exciting.
The following clubs stepped up to the plate: Boambee, Coffs City United, Coffs Coast Tigers, Kempsey Saints, Macleay Valley Rangers, Northern Storm, Port Saints, Port United, Sawtell Scorpions and Taree Wildcats.
It was all systems go until someone hollered ‘Houston’ – and a virus coined COVID-19 became a global pandemic.
In the flutter of an eye – all sport, and life as it had been known – ground to a halt.
The CPL hadn’t even been born – the season was due to start in late March.
Undeterred, while other codes flipped, flopped and froze, the CPL found a COVID-safe plan to get things rolling, and it was game on in the first week of July.
The standard of the showcase was a breath of fresh air. The clubs and the players reveled in the opportunity to test themselves against the best in the greater region.
Things were going swimmingly – until the State Government tweaked the travel rules, making it impossible for clubs from the north and south to continue battle across the two districts.
Nimbly, the CPL declared Coffs City United the inaugural combined competition champions as they were leading at the time of the rude awakening.
Just as quickly, plans were hatched to split the comp into two conferences – North and South – and start afresh.
Boambee and Port United would go on respectively to claim those first grade titles.
So despite everything that was thrown at the beautiful game – in a year The Queen may well have dubbed an annus horribilis – the CPL found a way.
That it went ahead at all was a credit to the resilience of the organisation and the clubs.
That in its debut year it stared down COVID – and ended up with three title winning clubs … simply remarkable.
2020 Honour Roll
First grade: Coffs City United (News story)
Reserve grade: Coffs City United
CPL North Division (News story)
First grade: Boambee FC
CPL South Division (News story)
First grade: Port United
Reserve grade: Port United