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With the 2020/21 football season officially kicking off in the Essex Alliance League tomorrow afternoon, we preview our divisions for the coming season and take a look at who might be the runners and riders in this campaign.
In the newly expanded Senior Division, we are pleased to be able to welcome two new clubs into the league. DTFC join the competition, their first leap into Saturday football, and join with a big reputation following their successes around the YouTube scene in recent times. Jolof Sports, champions of the league in 2018/19, return to the competition following their one year stay with the Middlesex County League in a strong looking line-up. At the point of aborting the season in March, any one of Chigwell (now Chigwell Town), West Essex Reserves or FC Petrocub could have had their hands on the title and they will look for strong showings again this season. CSM London, London Cranes, FC Baresi, Blue Marlin, Lymore Gardens and Rapid Chingford all retain their places in the top flight ahead of the new campaign and they are joined by two promoted sides, Tower United and All Prospects who will seek to impress amongst the big boys.
The Division One line-up this season looks extremely strong with some up and coming names who are all making real progress. Chadwell Heath Spartans, Frenford A and Woodford East all make the jump up a number of divisions following strong campaigns last time out and look as though they’ll be as good as anyone in the division. There are some new names too with Francis Luke, Leyton Royal, North East Lions, Wapping and Kit Out London all joining the competition but with much experience in those sides in this league and higher too. Completing the line-up are division stalwarts, Eastside and London Park City, the two sides remaining in the division in what looks to be a quality group of clubs.
It’s much the same story in Division Two too where a number of new sides join a crop of well established sides at this level. Belfry, Dagenham United and Barkingside A are the new clubs in the division, the former being well accustomed to the requirements of a promotion challenge at this level. Joining those sides are the promoted outfits, Newham Wanderers and St Francis, who make the move up after impressive displays in Division Three last time out, joined by Forest Green who move down from Division One. And not forgetting of course the established sides, last year’s county cup finalists, Cowley Community plus Old Esthameians, Rainham Working Mens Club, Royal Forest and Unitey who will all look to make a positive start to the campaign.
The Division Three line-up is also vastly changed with new sides Bailey Football Academy, FHN Athletic, Old Barkabbeyans Reserves, Epping United and Flyers Under 23s joining the league this summer and looking to impress in their maiden campaigns at this level, most of those being young sides making their first moves into the open age football arena. Moving up following promotions are Fairlop Rovers, Lymore Gardens Reserves and Loughton Lions who had strong showings in Division Four last term. Melbourne Sports are the only side moving down into the division and join Glendale as the only existing side still in the division from last season.
Completing this year’s line-up of clubs is Division Four which has a familiar feel about it with a number of well established sides amongst the ranks, along with some new faces to freshen things up. Collier Row A, Emerson United Reserves and Royal Forest Reserves are the new teams to join the competition the latter showing some good pre-season form coming into the season. Avondale Rangers and Custom House United move down from Division Three to join the other existing clubs in the shape of Brentwood United Reserves, Chingford Harriers, Dagenham United Reserves, Newham Royals and Together United. This is a tough division to call with a number of sides impressing through pre-season so it should be a good battle.
With such a long break from football since March, we are sure that this will bring about added interest to the league this season and we’re very much looking forward to catching up with many of our teams at a game this year. Best of luck to one and all!