The Waikato's Northern League representatives, hailing from Hamilton and Cambridge, are set to kick off their Northern League campaigns this weekend after a delayed start due to Covid-19.

Hamilton Wanderers, Melville United and Claudelands Rovers have all had just over two weeks of pre-season to prepare for their respective leagues.

Hamilton Wanderers premier women's team, under head coach Stephen Cox, are favourites to contest the Lotto NRFL womens premier league title, after three years of building a strong all-round squad.

The addition of former football fern Kate Loye this year, while maintaining much of the strong squad that made the semifinals of the 2019 Kate Sheppard Cup, has put the blue club of Hamilton strongly on the radar as a favourite to win the league.


It is a testatement of hard from work a team and coach that were promoted to the premier league only four years ago, and fought off relegation in their first season.

They will kick off their season against newly promoted Ellerslie AFC at Porritt Stadium on Sunday before a Hamilton derby match the following weekend against Claudelands Rovers.

Claudelands returned to the premier league after the amalgamation of Onehunga FC and Three Kings United opening up a free spot. They were the losers of the two leg promotion play-off against Ellerslie last year, but were selected to be promoted after the amalgamation.

Liam Hayes (right) in action for Melville United. Photo / Grant Stantiall
Liam Hayes (right) in action for Melville United. Photo / Grant Stantiall

With their new coach Jeff Sole, they will kick off their season this weekend against current champions Eastern Suburbs in what could be a tough opening two weeks for the freshly promoted side, but they have young and fresh players eager to impress and leave a mark on the league.

In the men's league Kale Herbert and his Hamilton Wanderers squad travel north to Auckland to face Bay Olympic, while Melville United, under returning coach Sam Wilkinson, open their season at Gower Park against Central United.

Melville United will look to build on the success they had last season in the Chatham Cup, reaching the final of the tournament. Last year they struggled to get going in the early rounds of the season, losing their first game of the season to Hamilton Wanderers thanks to a late Tommy Semmy winner.

Claudelands Rovers men team will be looking for another push at promotion to division one under coach Mark Cossey after falling short over the past two years.

They will open the season with a Waikato derby against Cambridge FC at Galloway Park, which has been a fierce contest in recent history.


Tom Rowland is the team manager of the Claudelands Rovers women's team