Written By Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]
Hello and welcome a to a special one-off article looking at the Cordell Cup competitions (in advance of Cordell Finals Weekend), which were invitational tournaments run by the Essex Senior, ahead of the full resumption of League action In August 2021.
I’m really pleased to add that Jack Newman (JN) from the Non-League Chronicles Team, Essex Senior Media official Scott Lanza (SL) and respected Non-League writer Peter Dudley (PD) join me (SW) in giving our views on the competitions, from the writer’s perspective. Thank you for reading.
Firstly, thank you all for your time. Despite the majority of the tournaments being played ‘behind closed doors’ to spectators, what has it been like to get back to watching Non-League Football again (as Media)?
Peter: It was such a relief to get back to covering football once again, watching it on TV had become rather mundane, boring and it cannot replicate the atmosphere of a live game, and I also feel blessed I was given the chance to cover games that the normal public could not, so I was very thankful for that. It was also a big help with my well-being too and was another step to some sort of normality, which certainly helps.
Scott L: It’s been great as non-league football is part of my life, and so getting a chance to get back watching games live has been wonderful. The ‘behind closed doors’ part of the experience hasn’t been so good, as the lockdown made me realise that part of the reason I like lower league football is because of the many friends I have there. It was good to see some of them at the games, but others were not allowed to enter, which was a shame but inevitable considering the government restrictions.
Jack (NLC): I think it’s fair to say that all the contributors to The Non-League Chronicles have loved the opportunity that we’ve been afforded by the competition organisers (the Essex Senior – Ed). It’s been magnificent to be back watching live football.
What have been your favourite matches to watch in the Cordell Cup or Cordell Trophy?
JN: Certainly in terms of favourite matches the games we’ve seen involving Athletic Newham & Woodford Town have all been enjoyable high scoring end-to-end affairs which is always good. Woodford’s big win at Aveley over Great Wakering Rovers being of particular note.
PD: The first one of the tournament between Hackney Wick and West Essex was one of the best games I have seen for some time, eight goals, high tempo, and two sides who went for it, so that was very entertaining. I also would say the derby between Holland and FC Clacton which had just about everything, five goals, feisty clashes, red card, a missed penalty which was retaken, and then we almost saw a comeback, so that was an enjoyable day on a sunny day on the North Essex coast.
SL: I didn’t cover too many games due to the restrictions in place regarding who could attend. However, the opening game I saw was Woodford Town v Barkingside which was a very good game, and if I am honest better than I thought I would be seeing bearing in mind the lockdown has played havoc with teams with match fitness being lost due to the enforced break. This was not in evidence here, and the West Essex v Stansted game was another one which saw 90 minutes of flowing end-to-end football being served up.
Which teams have impressed you (That you’ve watched live)?
PD: Was quite impressed with Clapton and their organisation at the back, bar their two defeats to Redbridge they did not concede a goal and put in some impressive displays, also impressed with Hackney Wick too who have a side where all but two of the squad were U23, they look very dangerous and will cause teams problems next season if they can keep them together. Those two sides would be the ones I’d pick out mainly because I didn’t expect or didn’t know what to expect from them, and they surprised me slightly at how well they played.
SW: For me, White Ensign do deserve credit for the way they have approached the competition and for their form, particularly in the group stages where they won three out of three. It will be fascinating to see if they bring players in to improve the squad or keep faith with this group of players as they take on the Essex Senior League for the first time in their history from August.
Also, I do feel honourable mentions have to go to Barkingside, who really gave Ensign a scare in their Quarter-Final and also to Athletic Newham who deserve a lot of praise for their attacking style of play and could also be one to watch next term in the Essex Senior.
JN: We’ve really been impressed with the quality shown by the teams throughout and White Ensign, Redbridge & Cockfosters have all looked in good nick – especially the former who we all think will be an excellent addition to the Essex Senior League next season.
SL: Redbridge impressed me as they seemed to be taking the tournament seriously straight from the off. I was also impressed with Stansted, and Athletic Newham certainly looked a strong outfit when I saw them in the Quarter Final at Redbridge. They were strong, physical, and fast going forward. And although I didn’t get to see them play live, you have to be impressed with Step 6 outfits White Ensign and Holland, who got some very good results in the bag against teams higher up the pyramid, with Holland of course going all the way to the Len Cordell Memorial Cup Final.
Peter, you’ve been one of the lead commentators on the Live-streamed matches. How has that been as an experience?
PD: I have always wanted to try my hand at commentary and after getting over the first match nerves I really enjoyed it, and led the commentary at all the games I did after the first one, ended up doing four games in total and it was a very good experience, even if two of those games we had to share one microphone between two people, but we muddled through as they say!
All in all, do you feel these competitions (Cordell Cup/Trophy & Plate) have truly honoured the late Len Cordell’s contribution to Redbridge FC (formerly Ford Utd) and Non-League Football as a whole?
SL: The fact a number of teams outside the ESL entered shows you how well Len was thought of in Essex Non-League circles. The fact that so many of the teams took the competition seriously shows you again how well Len was respected. The ESL have honoured Len Cordell by naming a cup competition after him, but the clubs also honoured him by taking part and then playing their games in a competitive spirit – which is what Len would have wanted as this man truly lived and breathed non-league football.
PD: I am sure Len would have appreciated the Essex Senior organising such a brilliant competition and all the teams that have taken part deserve praise for entering and helping to honour the great man, there have been some terrific games and plenty of goals and drama along the way, I am sure Len is looking down on us all and smiling at what he has seen.
SW: I agree that Len would have enjoyed some of the fast, flowing Football that we have seen in the competitions, which have rightly honoured someone who has contributed so much to Non-League during his time.
In your neutral opinion, which teams have endorsed their reputations in these competitions?
SL: Holland without question, alongside White Ensign and Barkingside – all Step 6 clubs that mixed it with clubs higher up the football pyramid. Clapton for me have in a way redeemed themselves. Struggling at the foot of the table when the League season was curtailed, the Tons went on to have a very good Len Cordell Cup campaign which could launch them onto a better time next season when league football resumes. I have to mention Barking, who really took the tournament seriously, and made it to the Semi-Finals before exiting at the hands of Holland, in what was shock result.
PD: White Ensign put in some decent performances, especially in the group stages by winning all three of their group games, Cockfosters too put in some decent performances to back up their decent league campaign up until the shutdown, I think Barking’s youngsters deserve some praise in reaching the Quarter Finals, and I think it’s marvellous that Redbridge, the team Len did so much work for, have ended up in the final and have a chance of winning it, that would certainly be some story indeed.
SW: With regards to the Cordell Trophy, both Harlow Town Reserves & Barkingside Res have had excellent competitions and this will aid them going on to next season and crucially for Reserve sides, have aided player development having being involved in tournament Football. Talking about the Cordell Cup, I will have to add the two sides in the North East side of the county in FC Clacton and Holland. Both sides have had their moments in the competition and for Holland to make the Final is a great achievement in itself.
JN: In terms of teams to watch going forwards Redbridge will certainly worth keeping an eye on – they’ve been very strong throughout and look like real contenders for the title next season if they can keep their momentum going.
Jack is a member of the Non-League Chronicles, a growing team of writers covering Non-League matches across London & Essex. You can find them on Facebook at “The Non League Chronicles” or via Twitter – @NLChronicles
Scott Lanza is the current Media official of the Essex Senior League, where he also edits the CentreSpot bulletin every week including links, match reports & more on Essex Senior & related news. To view Centrespot editions, head here: https://essexseniorleague.co.uk/centrespot/
Pete Dudley hardly needs any introduction, but the prolific writer has seen matches in the Essex Senior, Eastern Senior League South, Essex Olympian League & more this season and also was former Fixtures Secretary at local side Southend Manor. You can find him on Twitter at @ped1980 or on his blog: http://pedroslocalfootiefix.blogspot.com/
As for me, I’m Scott W and I’m also a Non-League writer on Essex Senior League & Essex Olympian League divisions. I also mostly write reports on matches I head out and watch.