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It’s been another one of those ever shortening summers this year with the memories and euphoria of 2018/19 still fresh in the minds as we reach the dawning of another highly-anticipated league season this coming Saturday afternoon.
For many, the summer months have provided an opportunity to recharge the batteries, take some time away from the game and regroup to go again for another campaign. For others of course, rest is not something that can be related to as league administrators, club officials and managers, battle their way through an array of meetings, training courses and the now infamous Whole Game System!
With the leaves now beginning to fall off of the trees and rigorous pre-season campaigns now completed, we preview the forthcoming 2019/20 football season in the Essex Alliance Football League.
The top flight has a new look about it this year with seven of the sides making their debut at this level of competition this coming season. That change presents difficulties with any predictions about how sides may fair but the “remainers” from last year, Blue Marlin, East Ham Inter, London Cranes and West Essex Reserves will all be hoping to step up to plate and push for honours. Joining those teams in the division are Division 1 champions, FC Baresi, along with Chingford Athletic A, Chigwell, CSM London, Lymore Gardens and Rapid Chingford also promoted to this new level and all having impressed in their pre-season campaigns to date. Completing the line-up are FC Petrocub who move across from top-flight Sunday football and therefore bring some experience and pedigree to the line-up as they seek to move up the football ladder.
In Division One this year, there are a blend of the old and the new with three new clubs joining the established sides. Last year’s crop include Chingford United and Forest Green who will hope that experience at this level will pay dividends. Those teams are being joined by the promoted sides Eastside and Tower Hamlets Reserves who move up after promising seasons last time out and will want to make an early impact on the division in the opening weeks. Also in this division, Jolof Sports’ newly introduced under 21s side come in seeking to replicate the success of their senior side with All Prospects, All Real, Sporting Hackney Development and Tower United the other new teams joining the second tier for their inaugural seasons in the competition. And completing the line-up are relegated Singh Sabha Barking and London Park City who will go again with renewed enthusiasm.
There is an old-school look to Division Two with the division comprised of many of the long-standing member clubs, typically a very competitive division to be a part of. Cowley Community, Old Esthameians, Rainham Working Mens Club, Upshire Forest and Puma Kings go again at this level as the sides staying in the division with each looking to make the most of last year’s promoted sides moving upwards. Melbourne Sports and Three Colts both move down to this tier and will look to rebuild while Flyers, Royal Forest and Sungate Reserves continue their respective upward trajectories following good campaigns last term. The sole new club amongst the division of teams this year is Unitey who join on the back of a very strong pre-season campaign which has seen a number of victories, placing them as a possible dark horse for honours this year.
In Division Three, it’s another experienced division of teams with seven of the ten sides having been Alliance sides last time out. Avondale Rangers and Debden Park step up to this level, the latter for the first time, but both with a degree of confidence after decent pre-season campaigns. They join the existing teams at this level, Custom House United, Flyers Development, Glendale, St Francis and a very strong looking Frenford A team in what could be a tight and well contested league this coming season. Joining the ranks in the fourth tier are Chadwell Heath Spartans, Ilford Development and Newham Wanderers who all join with much enthusiasm and desire to make their mark in the debut seasons in the league.
Last but not least, we take a look at Division Four with many of the familiar names occupying the places including the likes of Brentwood United Reserves, Dagenham United Reserves, Loughton Lions, Newham Royals and the re-branded Woodford East (formerly Chigwell Mens Club) who are sides always there or thereabouts at this level when it comes to competing for honours. Chingford Harriers move down a level this year as they look to revitalise their squad with some fresh blood and they could be a difficult side to beat with the experience in their ranks. Coming in to the league at this level are Fairlop Rovers who have been impressive in their friendlies so far, accompanied by Flyers B, Lymore Gardens Reserves, Prospect Protégé and Together United.
We wish all of our teams and match officials the very best of luck for the season ahead. We hope it is an enjoyable season for all involved and we look forward to taking in plenty of action once again this year.