Fresh from a “fairytale season” with W-League champions Melbourne City, Rhali Dobson has silenced the rumour mill by confirming she will return to Merewether for the Herald Women’s Premier League.
The news this week came as Northern NSW Football revealed the Herald Women’s Premier League would be reduced to seven teams again after Mid North Coast withdrew from first grade.
The club will however continue to field teams in the 20s, 17s and 14s age groups.
NNSWF chief executive officer David Eland said it was disappointing after the competition had expanded to eight teams for 2018 with the inclusion of New Lambton.
“It is with regret that we advised the clubs at last week’s meeting that Football Mid North Coast have been unable to get the necessary numbers to fill a first-grade squad,” Eland said.
“We’ve been working with Football Mid North Coast for a number of months and we’re satisfied Football Mid North Coast has done everything that they can possibly do to try to get a team together.”
The region’s top-level women’s competition is set to kick off on March 11 with defending champions Merewether now having the bye.
Dobson, who hails from Wauchope on the Mid North Coast, returns to United filled with confidence and renewed drive after the past six months with Melbourne City.
The offer to play for the W-League heavyweights came after the long-serving Jets player was not resigned by Newcastle.
It turned out to be the best move the 25-year-old could have made.
“Winning the championship was a dream come true and something that I never anticipated happening … it’s basically been a fairytale season for me,” Dobson said.
“I feel I became a very different player while I was away and now I want to just carry that on.”
Dobson was still celebrating when rumours began to emerge of her staying in Melbourne or planning to play in Sydney through winter.
But a return to Merewether was always on the cards.
“I really started enjoying my soccer again when I moved across to Merewether after two years of really hating the game,” she said.
“Those girls have been so supportive throughout the whole adventure in Melbourne and I’m excited to work with them all again.”
Merewether coach Cassie Koppen expected Dobson’s return to have a positive influence on the squad.
“Rhali’s obviously coming off a championship win in the W-League, so she is going to be full of confidence,” Koppen said.
“She’s incredibly fit, probably the fittest she’s ever been.”
, and she’s coming back to us from a really professional environment.
“Hopefully we can all learn something from her from that experience and I think her effort will probably be contagious at training.”