S21-22 Match Report: DT FC 5 – 2 Chadwell Heath Spartans (Tues 28 Sept) [EAL 21/22 29.9.21]

Essex Alliance League – Senior Division

Venue: Harlow Arena [3G]

2021-22 Season: Match 27

Tuesday 28 September 2021 – 7.45pm KO

DT: Red & White Shirts, White Shorts, Red Socks

CH Spartans: Grey Shirts, Grey Shorts, Black Socks



DT’s goal threat secures big win at a damp Harlow Arena

DT FC  5 – 2 Chadwell Heath Spartans

Match Report by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]

Photos by Scott W & Neil Hunwicks [@ABridgeTooFar16]

The midweek game was a rare spectacle of an Essex Alliance League Senior Division (at Step 7, alongside Essex Olympian Premier Division in the Non-League pyramid) match under the lights at the Harlow Arena, where DT FC took on newly-promoted Chadwell Heath Spartans. The hosts have recently appointed the highly experienced Allan Fenn as manager and his side included Alex Jennings in goal, with a defence of Lewis Evans, Ashley Skeggs, Billy Golledge and Steve Domfeh. Their forward line was led by Jake Kissiedu and Ollie Fortune with support from Stanley Green and Kieran Hipgrave. The Spartans are led by player-boss Aaron Hunwicks and promising goalkeeper Josh Woodrow was between the posts, with their central defence being comprised of Joe Robb, skipper Janel Alexander and Ray Hunwicks. Jeffrey Nketia and James Odukoya led their attack, with support from Tom Callagher.

The match began with DT looking to get the impetus early, as a fine cross from the left flank by full-back Lewis Evans found support forward Stanley Green who sent his header wide of the left-sided post. Spartans responded at the other end as Tom Callagher sent a header off-target but it was the home side who were showing a bit more pace going forward and having more of the early half-chances. However, it was the visitors who took the lead on twenty minutes as a good set-piece found its way to captain Janel Alexander at the back post who slotted home well past DT stopper Alex Jennings. Unfortunately for the Spartans, that lead only lasted for two minutes before the hosts levelled. Forward Jake Kissiedu was causing problems down the right channel with his pace and trickery and he was found well before turning his marker and firing home low past Woodrow.


To their credit, Chadwell Heath Spartans responded with some vigour and Mike Ramsay was played in with only Jennings to defeat but the hosts’ goalkeeper was equal to his effort. DT did take the lead for the first time on the stroke of the half-hour, with Kissiedu being fouled in the area and Kieran Hipgrave stepped up to convert the resulting spot-kick with aplomb in the right-side corner. Spartans had to defend well and an great example of that came five minutes after the hosts’ second goal as another good centre by Kissiedu this time found Hipgrave, only for a great block tackle which denied him well.

Half-Time: DT 2 – 1 CH Spartans

With the rain continuing to fall heavily, the hosts looked to get back on the front foot soon after the interval. Spartans custodian Josh Woodrow was having a good game, making several decent saves and being a good presence in his area. Woodrow had to make another decent save on forty-eight minutes to deny Ollie Fortune’s strike from about six yards out. It was a sign of things to come though as DT did get that important third goal moments later. Another threatening set-piece found centre-back Billy Golledge who found the net from close range. But again, the Spartans’ self-belief kept them in the game as they responded four minutes later to make it three-two. A good ball in to forward James Odukoya ended with the forward getting past the defender and firing home confidently past Jennings to give his team some hope.


Spartans on the attack [image by @ABridgeTooFar16]

DT were looking very enterprising on the counter, with Green and substitute Lewis Page really stretching the visiting backline with his pace and crossing ability. On the hour, another decent cross in by Green was headed wide by Fortune, the hosts’ intent to wrap up the match was clear. As we got into the last 15 minutes, Woodrow pulled off yet another fine save to deny DT replacement Eliandro Soque’s good strike. Spartans skipper Janel Alexander was doing an admirable job of holding back the home forwards who were really posing problems in the declining conditions.

Two goals in three minutes eventually sealed the contest in the hosts’ favour. Firstly on 76 minutes, another fine run down the left by Lewis Page ended with another fine cross finding Fortune who struck home well, after doing well to hold off his marker. And then three minutes later, Fortune netted again from close range to finally seal a contest that had been very entertaining for the near 50 or so in attendance.


Image by @AbridgeTooFar16

Full-Time: DT FC  5 – 2  Chadwell Heath Spartans

In summary, the Spartans fought extremely hard throughout, showing commendable spirit and nearly got back into the contest after their second goal, but ultimately DT’s forward line were too strong and saw Allan Fenn’s side to a good win.

For stand-out performances here, we’ll start with the victors. Full-back Lewis Evans and support forward stamley Green put in some good sprints and fine crosses into the penalty box during the match and also both showed good energy levels. Substitute Lewis Page also showed good skill, pace and crossing in the second-half while forward Ollie Fortune led the line well and took his two goals late on with some aplomb to seal the contest. For the Spartans, forward James Odukoya took his goal well and led their forward line admirably. Goalkeeper Josh Woodrow had a fine evening, making at least three good saves to keep his team in the contest, while skipper Janel Alexander had a good game in central defence, making several crucial interceptions.

Best wishes to both teams for the rest of the campaign. Finally, I have to note that it was good to see my first Essex Alliance League midweek game, as the league continues to go from strength to strength. We wish them well in their first campaign as a Step 7 League.



Teams

DT FC    | Manager: Allan Fenn  |

Starting XI: I: 1 Alex Jennings (GK), 21 Steve Domfeh, 5 Ashley Skeggs, 19 Billy Golledge, 33 Lewis Evans, 49 Mike Ikotun, 4 Mickey Mesmin, 10 Kieran Hipgrave, 7 Stanley Green, 14 Jake Kissiedu, 15 Ollie Fortune

Goal-scorers: Jake Kissiedu [22′], Kieran Hipgrave [pen 29′], Billy Golledge [50′], Ollie Fortune [76′ & 79′]

Subs On: 11 Lewis Page [46′], 16 Eliandro Soque [58′], 18 Kaci Henry [80′], 3 Kevin Bondjanga [82′]

Subs Not Used: Smith


Chadwell Heath Spartans  | Player-Manager: Aaron Hunwicks  |

Starting XI: 1 Josh Woodrow (Gk), 2 Harry Amoah, 3 Joe Butcher, 4 Janel Alexander (Capt), 5 Joe Robb, 6 Raymond Hunwicks, 7 Mike Ramsay, 8 Courtney Holness, 9 Jeffrey Nketia, 10 James Odukoya, 11 Tom Callagher

Goal-scorers: Janel Alexander [20′], James Odukoya [54′]

Subs On: 14 Rashid Matabaro [53′], 17 Samir Aboulainaf [57′], 15 Jack Evans [61′], 12 Tommy Harrison [72′], 16 Aaron Hunwicks [84′]


Referee: Alan Steward

Guest Blog: Essex Alliance League Round-up (Wk 6- Sat 25 Sept) [EAL 21-22 27.9.21]

Hello and welcome to the latest action from the Essex Alliance League, which continues on this blog under the “Guest Blog” strand.  This edition looks at the action across the League divisions and some Cup competitions as well from Saturday 25 September. My thanks to the EAL’s Rob Parker. This round-up is posted with the author’s permission with additional reporting by Scott W. Thanks for reading.

Guest Blog written by Rob Parker for EAL  [EAL Twitter: @EssexAllianceFL]

Essex Alliance League Round-up- Saturday 25 September

SENIOR DIVISION

A six point gap has been opened at the top of the Senior Division standings as Chadwell Heath Spartans took advantage of results around them to increase the gap on the back of a hard fought 3 – 2 victory away at Kit Out London, ending the latter’s unbeaten start. Marlon Ortiz scored twice for Kit Out but two Jeffrey Nketia strikes and a Michael Ramsay effort were enough for a Spartan victory.

FC Petrocub picked up a vital first win of the season on Saturday as they travelled to Lakeside to take on a previously unbeaten Woodford East side. Lucio Uare scored for the Peacocks but his efforts were in vain as Petrocub put in their best show of the season to win the game 3 – 1, moving them away from the relegation zone.

That result enabled Lymore Gardens to apply pressure to the sides at the top end of the table and they moved level with second place on goal difference as they took all three points home with them following a 4 – 1 victory in Hainault against winless Chigwell Town. Andre Rashford scored twice with Dylan Roberts and Ryo Brown netting the others to render John Lye’s effort for Town as just consolation.

A second win of the season was secured by FC Baresi as their first game in Walthamstow saw them produce a 4 – 2 winning performance against visitors Tower United at the Britannia. Bashir Ali and Abubakar Maxamed netted for United with Paul Benfield scoring twice in reply for Baresi, along with efforts from Zuhayr Amjad and Tyreece Robertson.

There was a big derby match in Hainault as two close rivals, Leyton Royal and Rapid Chingford, faced off at Fairlop Oak with both sides eager to win. Rapid went into the game trailing their opposition by five points but that was cut to just two as they earned a first win of the season. Bogdan Toana scored a brace for Royal but that proved not quite enough as Rapid strikes from Catalin Anghel, Federico Ardei and Ionut Labunt won it 3 – 2.

Over in East Ham, two of the sides struggling at the wrong end of the table met as CSM London played host to Blue Marlin, both sides seeking to move clear of any relegations worries. By the end of the game, Blue Marlin were able to move level with their opponents, running out 3 – 1 victors despite a Leon Barnard goal from the hosts. Jorginho Gomez scored twice and Abu Khan once to hand Marlin victory.


FENTON CUP

The first Fenton Cup action for many months was witnessed over the weekend as the competition returned with a first round tie between DTFC and Dagenham United. A five goal thriller ensued with the higher ranked DTFC eventually coming through in a 3 – 2 score-line. Charlie Fiander and Iaia Jau both netted for United but DT goals from Mickey Mesmin, Jake Kissiedu and Lewis Page saw their side safely through to round two.


PREMIER DIVISION

The excellent start to the season from Frenford A sees no end and they have also now opened up a big five lead at the top of the Premier Division standings, ending Marcelona’s unbeaten start to the season. Joel Opara came off the bench to score twice with Keenan Gravillis, Murilo Pereira, Isima Iguisi and Adam Andrade efforts carrying them to a comprehensive 6 – 0 win.

That result allowed North East Lions to move back into the top two places as they were victorious at home on Saturday as they took on Eastside in Walthamstow. Rweal Azizur, Romelle Pile and Liam Lezama-Johnson all found the back of the net for Lions to hand their side a second win of the campaign in a 3 – 1 scoreline.

DIVISION ONE

It’s been a great start for Cowley Community so far and they made it three from three in the league on Saturday, coming away with all three points from Belhus Park as they sent hosts RCXI to a first defeat, going down 3-1. Josh Coulson was on target once again with Jake Nelson and Chris Wright goals carrying them over the line, despite a Harold Ofori goal.

In a familiar looking top end of a league table, Belfry are also once again up there and challenging, enhancing their credentials with a tough trip to Something From Nothing at the weekend at Wanstead Flats. Belfry were 1 – 0 winners on the day, coming through a close game to earn maximum points and move second.


DIVISION TWO

Things couldn’t be much tighter at the top of Division Two where three sides sit level on nine points, Old Esthameians joining the party with a big 7 – 1 win on Saturday as they entertained Ryan Under 23s in Newbury Park. That saw them jump up to within two goals of Rainham Working Mens Club who presently lead the way.

Sitting just one goal further back, Fairlop Rovers put themselves into a strong position with a third win of the season after their went away the happier of the sides in their home clash against Unitey on Saturday. Eddy Litambolo netted the Unitey goal but his efforts proved not quite enough as Rovers edged the game by the odd goal in a 2 – 1 win.

It was a good afternoon’s work for Royal Forest too who completed a comprehensive victory with 5 – 0 victory away at Newbury East at Oaks Park School. Tom Osmond scored twice with Joe Owers and Anthony Carrig also netting to help their side to a second league win of the campaign, moving them fifth in the standings.


DIVISION THREE

There are four teams sharing the lead of Division Three with Royal Forest Reserves joining that group over the weekend as they earned a thumping 6 – 1 win in the Hainault derby against Glendale. Will Asenso was on fire with a hat-trick for his side, supplementing goals from Jamie Cooper, Sereign Lette-Jallow and Stephen Aduadjoe. Wesley Kangi netted the Dales’ consolation goal in reply.

Moving up to third and on six points from three games, Lymore Gardens Reserves extending a positive start to their season with a big 5 – 0 victory at home against ASA. Kevin Monteiro, Omani Green, Nick Kordize, Alex Chuck and Rob Small were more than sufficient to send the points home with the hosts.

Also sitting on six points, Buckhurst Way made it two wins from three this season, moving third in the table on the back of a back a hard fought 2 – 1 win at home against Harlow Inter at Bancroft Rugby Club. Tom Glattback and Liam Wallis both found the back of the net to sent Way home with the points.

DIVISION FOUR

Chingford Harriers are now the only unbeaten side in Division Four and they added a third win to their record this season, coming out on top of their clash against Dagenham United Reserves by the odd goal. Two goals from Jake Kemp proved just enough to overcome a George Martin strike for United as Harriers confirmed a 2 – 1 success.

There was a second win of the new season for West Essex Under 23s who moved up into fourth place in the standings as they ended Fairlop Rovers Reserves’ perfect start, beating the previous leaders 3-2. Deshaun Johnson, Daniel Mincer and Ciaran Farrell-Christian were the difference in the end as each scored to give West the victory.

The final league game saw an important first win for another of the league’s new sides as Newham & Havering Borough broke their duck with a 5 – 3 win against Emerson & Upminster A. Tyler Huggett scored twice for Emerson and Garry Ashworth once but Borough scored five in reply to give them a boost ahead of their upcoming fixtures.


COUNTY CUP

In the Essex Junior Cup, there was a day of mixed successes for our clubs with Oakside having the best result of the day with a 4-0 win away at Olympian League opposition, Collier Row Reserves. They now entertain Frenford A in the next round in a fortnight.

Crookz United also scored four as they defeated fellow EAL outfit, London Cranes, 4 – 1 in East Ham to book their own place in the second round. They will now be at home to Harold Wood Athletic A in the next round.

That tie was set up on the back of Harold Wood coming through a tough tie against Athletic Newham Under 23s as the sides finished level at 3 – 3 after extra time. In the resulting shootout, it was Wood who held their nerve to come through 5 – 4 winners.

There were sizeable defeats for two of our clubs as All Prospects fell to an 8-0 loss away at Old Barkabbeyans while London Park City shipped ten against Isthmian League opposition, Tilbury Under 23s the winners of that one.

In the Essex Junior Trophy, the goals were really flowing, with FHN Athletic scoring eight as they faced Melbourne Sports at Fairlop Oak. The Mels rallied in the second period after being 7 – 1 down but FHN progressed, winning 8 – 4 to book at tie against Cowley Community in a fortnight.

There was also a high-scoring win for Ilford Reserves who successfully avoid a potential banana skin with victory away at Collier Row A. The Foxes were 6 – 1 victors to go through to round two where they will now tackle Fairlop Rovers.

Another of the all-EAL ties saw Loughton Lions up against higher division opposition, facing Barkingside A in Debden. Side edged a close game by the odd goal, winning 3 – 2 to set up a tie at Francis Luke.

There were defeats for two of our clubs at Mid Essex League opposition as Flyers Under 23s went down 5 – 1 away at Harold Hill A while Flyers Under 21s also suffered a reverse, losing 8-0 at home against Emerson & Upminster.

The London Junior Cup first round action finishes off the weekly round-up with last season’s semi-finalists, Jolof Sports, earning themselves a place in round two with a hard fought 2 – 0 win away at Doverhouse Lions.

Also into the hat for round two are Together United who faced tough opposition in the form of south London based Wanderers. The sides finished level at 1-1 after ninety minutes with United holding things together in the shootout, winning that 5 – 4 to progress through.

The third success of the day saw league new boys, Wanstead, victorious in their first competitive cup fixture as they earned an entertaining 5 – 4 home win against Eltham Eagles at the Flats, confirming safe passage into round two in the process.

There were high-scoring defeats for FC Baresi Under 23s who ended their participation with an 8 – 4 loss away at London Hibernians while Wapping’s run in the competition came to a premature halt with a 5 – 2 defeat at home to Peckham Town A.


Fixture – Tuesday 28 September (in Senior Division)

DT FC v Chadwell Heath Spartans | Harlow Arena 3G

Guest Blog: Essex Alliance League Round-up (Wk 5 – Sat 18 Sept) [EAL 21-22 20.9.21]

Penalty for CH Spartans tests FC Pretrocub ‘keeper (Image by @ABridgeTooFar16)

Hello and welcome to the latest action from the Essex Alliance League, which continues on this blog under the “Guest Blog” strand.  This edition looks at the action across the divisions and the inter-divisional Cup competitions (Essex Premier Cup, Essex Junior Cup, Essex Junior Trophy) from Saturday 18 September. My thanks to the EAL’s Rob Parker. This round-up is posted with the author’s permission with additional reporting by Scott W. Lead image by @ABridgeTooFar16 , used with thanks. Thanks for reading.

Guest Blog written by Rob Parker for EAL  [EAL Twitter: @EssexAllianceFL]

Essex Alliance League Round-up- Saturday 18 September

SENIOR DIVISION

With county cup action involving a number of our clubs this weekend, a limited Senior Division schedule saw league leaders, Chadwell Heath Spartans, on the road with a trip down the A12 to take on FC Petrocub at Noak Hill. Trailing by a goal at the break, Spartans fought back and took all three points with Courtney Holness and an own goal contributing to a 2 – 1 victory.  Second placed Woodford East took advantage of sides around them being out of action as they climbed up into the top two with a big away win in Hainault against Blue Marlin. Billy Barr has been in good form and added another four goals to his tally here, with Lucio Uare netted twice and  Adam Tabbani and Jack Haspineall also netting in an 8 – 1 win.

Completing the top-flight action, there was a key battle at the other end of the table as winless Tower United were at home to CSM London on Saturday in Mabley Green seeking to open their points account. And that was exactly what they did as Abubakar Maxamed struck four goals to counter a CSM fight-back from Joel Palmer, Lukman Hasan and Oscar-Ikye Williams in a 4 – 3 scoreline.  


PREMIER DIVISION 

It’s three from three now for the Premier Division leaders after Frenford A extended their winning run with a hard fought victory away at Crookz United on Saturday. Both sides went into the fixture unbeaten but it was the leaders who will have come away the happier of the two teams, recording a 2 – 1 win to move four points clear at the top with Damilola Olaiya and Nesar Torkamani scoring for the visitors. Crookz Utd responded through John Afrane-Kesey. Sitting second are Marcelona who also kept their unbeaten record running for another week as they secured a second draw to go alongside their solitary win, as they were involved in a incredible 4 – 4 draw away at Oakside who made their competition debut. There proved to be little between the sides as they settled for a share of the spoils. Oakside’s goals came from a brace from Moustapha Kane, plus strikes by Luke Caston and Jack Swaby.

Another side making their league debut were Athletic Newham Under 23s who finally got underway at the weekend as they hosted All Prospects in East Ham. Daniel Devey scored for the visitors, making their return to this level, but that effort proved not quite enough as Newham scored five of their own to win it 5 – 1. 

There’s little to separate the sides in fifth and sixth where Eastside presently sit in the former on the back of a win and a defeat in their opening two games. London Park City were their opponents this weekend with Alexandru Gheorghe and Wais Heshemy efforts finding the target for their side. But substitute Ifeanyi Umeh’s hat-trick plus a Michael Morgan goal gave ‘Side the 4 – 2 win. 

Sixth-placed Wapping trail by just goals scored and opened their points account for the new season with a closely fought 1 – 0 home win against North East Lions courtesy of Meeshaq Malone’s goal. That result saw the hosts bounce back well from their opening defeat to take maximum points in Hackney to move into the top half of the table. 


DIVISION ONE 

In Division One, two sides are fighting hard at the top of the early standings where Cowley Community presently hold sway at the top on goal difference following a second consecutive win, recording a 3 – 2 win at home against Something From Nothing in a five goal thriller. That man Chris Wright netted once again with James Allen and Kyle Cargill strikes edging the contest. 

Renegade are up to third in the table as they completed the full set of results, adding a win to their draw and defeat, the victory coming at the hands of Wanstead at the Flats. Vincent Follea, Deon Thwala, Nana Baah and Daekwon King-Douglas all struck to give the Hackney based side their maiden win in a 4-2 score-line. Also at the Flats, Newham Wanderers bounced back well from their defeat last time out in the opening round of games to reign supreme as they welcomed Francis Luke. Wanderers goals from Admir Cassama, Robertson Morais and Joao Cruz were crucial to separate the sides with Saico Djop’s effort in reply proving insufficient as the hosts won 3 – 1. 

Barkingside A opened their new season in some style with a solid 4 – 2 victory as they hosted Forest Green at Nutter Lane, the visitors remaining winless after their opening two games in the competition. The hosts had a double from Josh Rowe plus goals from Umaru Kabia and Harry Nicholson to thank for this success. That win sees ‘Side move up to fifth and gives them much hope for the campaign ahead. 

It was also a good afternoon’s work for Belfry who got their own campaign off to the best of starts as they took maximum points in a 1 – 0 score-line, scoring in the dying embers of the game to defeat Ilford Reserves at May & Baker, a game which looked well fought between two well equipped sides. 


DIVISION TWO 

It’s Rainham Working Mens Club setting the early pace in the fourth tier this season after they got a third win of the campaign already following a solid away victory at Ryan Under 23s in Walthamstow. Workies goals from Matthew Humphreys, Nick Tormey, Connor Kain, Odo Osei-Tutu & Sean Tormey were enough in the end to round off a 5 – 1 win. William Amoah netted the solitary goal for the Ryan side here. Three further sides sport a perfect record in the division where FHN Athletic presently lead the chasing pack on the back of a second win of the campaign, sending Emerson & Upminster Reserves to a 4 – 1 defeat in Hainault. Dan Lane struck for the visitors but Joseph O’Hare, Michael Barek, Terron Fordjoe and Amos Agyei goals handed their FHN side the points. 

Fairlop Rovers are the third side with a 100% start so far in the division but had to do things the hard way as they came from behind against a solid Royal Forest side to record a 4 – 2 win on the road in Loughton. Joe Owers and Martin Cannon blasted onto the Royal score-sheet but two Dylan Scutt goals in reply plus efforts from Toby Stephens and Harry Oliver did just enough to rescue the points. 

There was a nine-goal thriller served up in Loughton’s other match offering as Unitey hosted Redbridge Community at Roding Valley High School. Brandon Fulton certainly knows where the goal is and he scored a hat-trick for Unitey here, adding to Jordan Vib and Ahmed Dousa goals. Two Frankie Francis consolations and goals from Harvir Bhangal and Alibacar Dabo netted in reply for Redbridge. 


DIVISION THREE 

It’s Old Barkabbeyans Reserves presently setting the pace in Division Three as they exploded in front of goal on Saturday, winning 13 – 1 away at Terin to go top of the pile. Mehdi Ahorbi’s five-goal haul set the side on their way with Chris Plummer, Callum Elliott, Alex Donkor Junior, Kacper Kasprzycki, Robbie Osborne, Okey Obialo, Jason Cassama and Ryan Lindfield efforts making it a memorable day. 

Royal Forest Reserves made their bow in the fifth tier on Saturday as they made the short trip of a few yards to face Melbourne Sports at Fairlop Oak. Two goals apiece from Tom Alexander and Will Asenso were the difference between the sides in the end as Forest firmly laid their roots in the division with an excellent 4 – 1 win.  Also back in action for the first time this season, ASA made a good start with an opening victory in Hackney Marshes as they faced Glendale. Trailing at the break to a Khari Pobi strike for the Dales, second half ASA goals from Mithurn Vijayarajah, Jubayed Miah and Saranth Veersasingam changed the context of the game, Wesley Kangi netting another for the Dales late on as ASA won 3 – 2. 

Lymore Gardens Reserves responded well to their opening defeat of the campaign as they returned home from Chigwell with all three points after sending Harlow Inter to a 5 – 2 defeat. Macauley Harrington and Ashton Livermore-Rose both scored for Inter but those efforts proved not quite enough with Lymore doing enough to take the spoils.  It was also a great day for Buckhurst Way as they also reversed their fortunes from their opening game in the competition to take home the points with them from their match at Flyers Under 23s. Muhammed Waqas got on the hosts’ score-sheet but Way edged the contest with two of their own to win it 2 – 1.


DIVISION FOUR 

Fairlop Rovers Reserves stay top of Division Four on the back of a third consecutive win to make it a good afternoon for the club. Jake Atherton’s goal for Flyers Under 21s made this a real contest but Rovers done just enough to edge it 2 – 1 and maintain a three point gap at the top. Elsewhere, Chingford Harriers are up to second in the table taking a goal difference advantage over the other sides level on points aided by a big win on the road as they defeated Collier Row A, 8 – 0. Jake Kemp was in fine fettle with a hat-trick, Edwin Jabbari and Darnell Lamothe both scored twice with Jesse Middleweek’s effort rounding things off. 

In third, Emerson & Upminster A keep themselves in contention at the top as they made it two wins from three so far this term, returning home from Loughton with all the points against Avondale Rangers. Bryn Compton-Lowe led the way with two goals, Tyler Huggett and Robert Spratley striking with the other goals in a 4 – 0 win. 

Also on six points, Newham Royals came out on the right side of the “Newham” derby as they defeated Newham & Havering Borough, oddly, quite a long way from Newham! Rainham was the host venue for this five goal thriller which saw Ashley Evett, Andre Peters and Billy Grainger goals separate the sides in a 3 – 2 Royal win. 


COUNTY CUPS 

It was BBC Essex Premier Cup day for a few of our sides with mixed fortunes. DT FC came from two goals down at the break against Walthamstow Reserves to advance into round two, turning things around in the second period thanks to goals from Billy Golledge (2), Lewis Evans, Stanley Green and Kieran Hipgrave to run out 5 -2 winners to set up a clash at home to Holland Reserves. Leyton Royal perhaps picked up the result of the day for our sides with the longest of trips, almost the entire length of the A12 as they headed to the north of the county to take on Lawford Lads. A terrific performance saw them win 3 – 1 and book a return trip up the A12 where they now head to Tiptree Heath in round two. 

It wasn’t such a great day for two of our other representatives who both slipped to narrow 2 – 1 reverses. Chigwell Town were up against Essex Senior League Reserve Division side May & Baker Reserves and were edged out in a close game thanks to goals from Brandon Johnson and Tolu Dina goals for M & B.  Over in Leyton, Epping Town were the first visitors at Lymore Gardens’ new home at the County Ground. Another closely fought game saw our side edged out with Epping the beneficiaries with a 2 – 1 victory to book their place in Round Two. 

Both Dagenham United sides were also in county cup action where the first team saw their Essex Junior Cup campaign come to a halt in the opening round with a big 5 – 0 defeat against local rivals, Barking Under 23s who hail from the Isthmian Development League.  Things were a little more plain sailing for Dagenham United Reserves who faced fellow Essex Alliance League opposition with West Essex Under 23s the visitors to Castle Green in their Essex Junior Trophy clash. Dagenham came through by the odd goal in seven, winning it 4 – 3 to go through to Round Two. 


Fixtures (Top 3 tiers only) – Saturday 25th September (2pm KO unless stated)

EAL Senior Division

Chigwell Town  v  Lymore Gardens
   |

CSM London  v  FC Petrocub   | West Ham Community Grd 3G, Beckton

FC Baresi  v  Tower Utd   | Britannia Sports Grd, W’stow

Kit Out London  v  Chadwell Heath Spartans   | Noak Hill 3G

Leyton Royal  v  Rapid Chingford  | Fairlop Oak Playing Fields

Woodford East  v  Blue Marlin  | Lakeside Sports Ground 3G (2.30pm KO)


EAL Premier Division

Frenford A  v  Marcelona  | Jack Carter Centre

North East Lions  v  Eastside  | Peter May Sports Centre



EAL Division One

Francis Luke  v  Renegade  | Leyton County Ground

RC XI  v  Cowley Community  | Belhus Park, Aveley

Something from Nothing  v  Belfry  | Wanstead Flats


Fenton Cup – Round One

DT FC  v  Dagenham Utd  | The Harlow Arena 3G

Full fixture list available at essexallianceleague.com

Guest Blog: Essex Alliance League Round-ups (Wk 4 – Sat 11 Sept) [EAL 21-22 14.9.21]

Hello and welcome to the latest action from the Essex Alliance League, which continues on this blog under the “Guest Blog” strand.  This edition looks at the action across the divisions from Saturday 11 September. My thanks to the EAL’s Rob Parker. This round-up is posted with the author’s permission. Thanks for reading.

Guest Blog written by Rob Parker for EAL  [EAL Twitter: @EssexAllianceFL]

Essex Alliance League Round-up- Saturday 11 September

SENIOR DIVISION

It’s as you were at the summit of the Senior Division where Chadwell Heath Spartans continue to lead the way after securing a third league win in four with victory in Chigwell against FC Baresi. Raymond Pok got on the visitors scoresheet once again but Spartan strikes from Samir Aboulainaf and Thomas Callagher were enough to see their side to a 2-1 win and maximum points.

Sitting in second and with a perfect record thus far, Jolof Sports continued a spirited start to the season as they recorded a solid 3-0 win against FC Petrocub at Lakeside, putting the memories of their county cup defeat in June behind them. Mody Gaye, Serigne Samb and Bogdan Ursica notched the goals as they also extended their cleansheet run to three matches.

Woodford East’s start since promotion has also shown their potential and the Peacocks are in third place after the first four weeks of the season with two wins and a draw to their name thus far. Their most recent victory came from the Marshes where they ended Lymore Garden’s unbeaten start as Billy Barr’s hat-trick and an Adam Tabbani effort proved decisive in a 4-2 scoreline.

Trailing just behind East by a single goal scored are Leyton Royal who themselves have made the step up in level with aplomb and extended their unbeaten start to a third game with a comprehensive 7-1 home win against Blue Marlin in Chingford. Tamer-Andrei Bozgan scored four of the goals with Catalin Gavril, Marian Nedelea and Bogdan Toana efforts completing a Royal win.

Kit Out London are another of the division’s seven sides to yet be defeated and after a couple of opening draws, they finally got their wins account into the plus as they defeated Tower United 4-1 at Noak Hill. Yasin Zougui, Oliver Holmes, Marlon Ortiz and substitute Abbas Yassin were all on the scoresheet for the hosts to continue their good start.

Two of the sides having made indifferent starts met in Beckton as Chigwell Town made the short trip down the A406 to face CSM London, both sides beginning the game without a point. Despite a Ross Chimes goals for Town, it was Ramone Senior’s brace for CSM that made the difference in the end as the hosts won 2-1 to take their first points of the campaign.

PREMIER DIVISION

In the Premier Division, Frenford A have opened up a two point gap at the top after two rounds of fixtures as they made it two wins from two, coming away victors in their clash against London Cranes on Saturday. Moses Kazibwe scored for the visitors but two Nesar Torkamani efforts off the bench and strikes from Isima Oguisi and Damilola Olaiya gave Frenfor d a 4-1 win at The Drive.

Marcelona just behind the leaders in the chasing pack after they followed up an opening day draw with a first victory in the competition to remain unbeaten so far. They were up against Wapping at Paringdon and came away winners by the odd goal in five, edging a close game to take their points tally to four.

In similar fashion, third placed North East Lions also made it four points from six in their opening two games and sit just one point off of the top two after recording an impressive 2-1 win at London Park City, one of the sides expected to challenge at the top this year. Shane Thomas and Tashan Benjamin had other ideas however as their Lions side edged to a narrow but crucial win in Seven Kings.

DIVISION ONE

The Division One table sees two of the league’s new member clubs leading the way as RCXI made it two wins from two in their opening fixtures to move three points clear of the rest. They were visitors to Newham Wanderers on Saturday and edged to a close 2-1 win through goals from Hassan Sesay and Jide Lewis. Robertson Morais was on the scoresheet for Wanderers with his customary goal.

Sitting in second, Ilford Reserves made their debut in the competition with a solid home win against Francis Luke, winning 5-1 in Dagenham. Luke Newbury-Neale scored twice with Joseph Sulola, Serghei Scupoi and Abdulrahman Cheraitia efforts finishing things off. Jose Da Silva grabbed the Luke consolation goal in response.

Cowley Community are a side who will be seeking to convert cup success from the last two seasons into a league title and they made a terrific start in new surrounds, defeating Forest Green 4-1 on Saturday in Newbury Park. Josh Coulson scored a hat-trick for Cowley with Ryan Thompson-Cobham also netting to earn all three points for their club.

The division’s final game came from Hackney where two of the league’s new members met with Renegade up against debutants Something From Nothing. After their opening day defeat, Renegade got a point on the board in a 1-1 draw as SFN netted late on to share the spoils, the sides sitting fourth and fifth in the table.

DIVISION TWO

Two sides presently sit atop of the standings in Division Two with a pair of opening victories and Rainham Working Mens Club lead the way on goal difference after securing a second win, seeing off the efforts of Royal Forest. Sean Tormey scored twice with Connor Kain and Odo Osei-Tutu efforts finishing things off in a 4-2 win.

Just behind Rainham sit Old Esthameians who followed up their opening day success with a hard fought win against new side Redbridge Community after the sides met in Dagenham. E’s were 2-1 winners on the day to confirm maximum points and sit just a few goals off top spot so far.  

Fairlop Rovers started the new season how they ended the last with a solid opening win on the road, picking up all three points in a win against Newbury East. George Montgomery scored twice for East but Rovers goals from Sam Beaman (2), Sam Balmforth, Brandon Dillon, Dylan Scutt and Joe Reynolds finished the job in a 6-2 scoreline.

The last game of the day in the top division came from Walthamstow where Ryan Under 23s were up against Unitey in both sides’ second fixtures after opening day defeats. It will be the visitors, Unitey, who left the happier of the clubs as Ahmed Dousa’s brace and a Matthew Pitchford effort were sufficient to see their team to a 3-1 win on the road.

DIVISION THREE

FC Baresi Under 23s made a great start to their first season in the competition as they returned home with all three points from their trip to fellow new side, Buckhurst Way. Zach Aliane scored twice while Leo Siki and Kii Jean-Baptiste also netted as Baresi ran out 4-1 victors to move third in the standings.

There was an eight goal thriller over in Barking where Melbourne Sports were the visitors to face Old Barkabbeyans Reserves at Barking Abbey. Jarode Mbungu, Callum Elliott and Robbie Osborne all struck the net for Old Barks but those efforts proved in vain as the Mels scored five of their own to win 5-3 on the day.

DIVISION FOUR

It’s been a great start to the campaign for Fairlop Rovers Reserves who head up the Division Four standings after two weeks, earning themselves a 2-0 win on Saturday to follow up their opening win last time out. Their opponents this week were Emerson & Upminster A who made a good start themselves but two Joe Head goals on debut were the difference for his Rovers outfit.

Collier Row A sit second in the table as they started their second season with the league with a thumping win away at Newham Royals in Rainham. Row ran in nine goals with the Royals only able to respond with three of their own as the visitors returned home the happier of the two teams.

It was a better second week of the season for West Essex Under 23s who responded to an opening day defeat to win 3-2 against Avondale Rangers who remain winless thus far. Anthony Adeoba and Phillip Heinen both got on the score-sheet for Rangers but West goals from Javen Cole, Amari Dixon and Daniel Mincer provided the platform for a hard fought victory.

The day’s final action came at King George’s Park in Romford where Flyers Under 21s made their competitive debut as hosts to Dagenham United Reserves. Lewis Bennett scored twice for Dagenham with Shaquille Mathurin netting the other as the visitors went away with the points in a 3-1 scoreline, that result moving them up to sixth in the standings.

Guest Blog: Essex Alliance League Round-up (Wk 3 – Sat 4 Sept) [EAL 21-22 6.9.21]

Hello and welcome to the latest action from the Essex Alliance League, which continues on this blog under the “Guest Blog” strand. The first extended edition of the campaign sees the start of Divisions One – Four this weekend, on Saturday 4 September. My thanks to the EAL’s Rob Parker. This round-up is posted with the author’s permission, with additional reporting by Scott W. Thanks for reading.

Guest Blog written by Rob Parker for EAL  [EAL Twitter: @EssexAllianceFL]

Essex Alliance League Round-up- Saturday 4 September

Senior Division 

Two sides now sit joint-top of the Senior Division after the third weekend of action as Chadwell Heath Spartans took their points tally to seven following a draw away to Rapid Chingford on Saturday. Bradley Downes got on the score-sheet for the visitors to help his side remain unbeaten, Rapid also netted through Federico Ardei in an eventual 1-1 draw. Lymore Gardens have also climbed to seven points and trail the leaders by just goal difference as they picked up a 4 – 2 victory from their game against Blue Marlin. Andre Rashford netted twice with Bradley Williams and Rob Small efforts seeing them to maximum points on the day. Nathan Desnoes and Ni Acquaye scored Marlin’s consolation efforts in reply. 

With two wins from two, Jolof Sports are now the only side with a perfect record thus far and they maintained that with a solid performance away at Tower United, earning a 6 – 0 win at Mabley Green to go third. Joshua Kweifio-Okai was the hero with a hat-trick for his side, further goals arriving through Moustapha Gueye, Mody Gaye and Fode Diakhite. 

The battle between the division’s 4th and 5th placed unbeaten sides saw DTFC meet Woodford East at the Harlow Arena & it was the hosts who took an early lead through Jake Kissiedu. East however held on after that and earned themselves a valuable point late in the game with Jack Haspineall’s effort making it 1 -1 in the dying embers of the game. 

The division’s remaining game saw a glut of goals with FC Petrocub and FC Baresi combining for a total of twelve efforts. Baresi will ultimately have left the happier of those sides however as Tyreece Robertson scored a hat-trick, Hamza Shire scored twice and one apiece from Ashley Godwin, Raymond Pok, Marvin Smith and Paul Benfield completed an emphatic 9 – 3 win. 


Premier Division

The rest of the league joined the action this weekend and Frenford A made an early impact in the Premier Division with a 2-0 home victory as they took on Eastside at The Drive, with both sides looking to build upon solid performances last term. Daniel Francis and Murilo Pereira efforts were the difference on the day as Frenford took all three points away with them to go top. The division’s other two games ended in score draws with the most exciting of those witnessed at Castle Green as Dagenham United shared the spoils with new members, Crookz United, in a 3 – 3 scoreline. A brace from Lewis Bennett and an Iaia Jau goal accounted for the three Dagenham goals on the day while Abdouaziz Jeng, Kevin Osei and John Afrane-Kesey all responded to level it up. 

Fourth and fifth places in the standings are held by league debutants Marcelona and North East Lions respectively after the opening action as they teams combined to record a draw in Harlow. Tashan Benjamin scored the Lions goal but Marcelona were up to the task and scored one of their own to ensure they left with a point in a 1 – 1 draw. 

EAL Division One

There was just the one match in Division One on the opening day with two of the league’s new clubs meeting in Hackney where Renegade played host to RCXI with both sides keen to impress on their competitive debuts. It will have been the visitors who left the happier of the sides as Hassan Sesay and Sammy Anjorin both netted to give RCXI a 2 – 1 victory. 


EAL Division Two

A near full fixture list opened Division Two for the season and Emerson & Upminster Reserves lead the way after a crazy 9 – 5 win in the first game of the season as they beat Loughton Lions at Debden Park High School. Tobi Onafeko and Ross Braybrooke each netted hat-tricks for Emerson with Sonny Scott, Alex Pizzey and Joshua Gibbins efforts rounding off the win. Loughton responded with some vigour though as a brace from Taylor Mclaughlin and strikes by Harrison Andrews, William Osmond and Jake Roberts made for a truly stirring contest.

Two sides sit level in second with FHN Athletic shading it on alphabetical order so following a 4 – 0 away win against debutants Newbury East in their clash in Newbury Park. Owen McConnell scored twice on his debut for FHN with Michael Barek and Terron Fordjoe goals earning the visitors maximum points to start the season. 

Rainham Working Mens Club are the other side in second as they equalled the result of their rivals with a solid 4 – 0 home victory against another of the league’s debutants, in Redbridge Community. Cameron Shakes really mixed things up with a brace as Nick Tormey and Sean Tormey goals rounded things off in favour of the hosts.  Goals were the order of the day in the remaining games where Royal Forest picked up a solid first win of the season as they entertained Ryan Under 23s at Roding Valley High School. Tom Osmond scored twice for Forest with Joe Owers, Harry Killick and George Taylor all scoring to give their side a 5 – 3 victory. Marley Wilson-Braithwaite grabbed a Ryan hat-trick in reply for the visitors. 

There was a seven-goal thriller in Newbury Park where two of the division’s stalwarts, Old Esthameians and Unitey, met for their opening game. Mohammed Abaker scored twice and Ahmed Dousa once for Unitey but their efforts proved in vain as Old E’s had doubles from Neil Robinson and Brad Harris to thank for coming out on the right side of a 4 – 3 victory. 


EAL Division Three

The goals continued to flow into Division Three where Harlow Inter made a great start to life in the competition, producing a stunning performance to beat fellow new side, Terin, in a 10 – 2 scoreline at Chigwell School. Lindsey Marsh scored a hat-trick, Connor Starling and Ben Homewood both scored twice with Macauley Harrington, Matthew Koayloay and Sam Balmforth efforts finishing it off. 

Sitting second in the table, Old Barkabbeyans Reserves produced their own top drawer performance as they defeated Lymore Gardens Reserves 8 – 3 at Barking Abbey. Mehdi Ahorbi scored a hat-trick, Robbie Osborne and Luke Sewell bagged braces and Klodian Meta picked up the final goal to give them a winning start to the new campaign. 


EAL Division Four 

Just alphabetical order keeps the two sides apart at the head of Division Four as Emerson & Upminster A confirmed an opening day 3 – 0 win with a victory away at Dagenham United Reserves at Castle Green. Nicholas Sofianov, Ryan Whitton and Stephen Lee all found the back of the net to make it a good afternoon for Emerson sides in the league. 

One letter back in the alphabet, Fairlop Rovers Reserves made a winning start in Rainham on their competitive debut with a solid win away at fellow debutants, Newham & Havering Borough. Goals from Tino Daga and substitutes, Sean McGilloway and Toby Stephens, were enough to help Fairlop to a 3 – 0 win. 

A familiar face at this level holds third place after this game week with Newham Royals taking on West Essex Under 23s at Salisbury Hall. Aaron Brooks and Daniel Mincer got on the score-sheet for West but Royals rattled in four of their own to take a 4-2 victory on the day, starting their season in a positive fashion.  In the day’s final fixture, two more of the league’s stalwarts met in Loughton where Chingford Harriers picked up an opening victory against Avondale Rangers. The experienced trio of Alex Diner, Nicholas Shawyer and Edwin Jabbari did the damage with their sides three goals on the day. Despite a solitary reply from Laurence Brady for Avondale, Harriers returned home to E4 with a 3 – 1 win under their belts. 

__________________

Fixtures – EAL on Saturday 11 September (Top Three Divisions only – stc)

Senior Division

Chadwell Heath Spartans  v  FC Baresi  | Chigwell Hall

CSM London  v  Chigwell Town | West Ham Community Ground 3G, Beckton

DT FC  v  Rapid Chingford   | Harlow Arena 3G

Jolof Sports  v  FC Petrocub   | Lakeside Sports Ground (2.30pm KO)

Leyton Royal  v  Blue Marlin    |  Fairlop Oak Playing Fields

Woodford East  v  Lymore Gardens   | Hackney Marshes


Premier Division

Frenford A  v  London Cranes  | The Drive

Lomdon Park City  v  North East Lions  | Seven Kings Sch 3G

Marcelona  v  Wapping   | Paringdon Sports Club


Division One

Cowley Community  v  Forest Green  | Ford’s Sports Club (Newbury Park)

Ilford Reserves  v  Francis Luke   | London Marathon Sports Grond, Hainault

Newham Wanderers  v  RC XI    | Wanstead Flats

Renegade  v  Something From Nothing (SFN)  | Hackney Marshes

Guest Blog: Essex Alliance League Round-up (Wk 2 – Sat 28 August) [EAL 21-22 30.8.21]

Hello and welcome to the latest action from the Essex Alliance League, which continues on this blog under the “Guest Blog” strand. This shortened edition looks at the second weekend of the Regional Feeder League that took place on Saturday 28 August. My thanks to the EAL’s Rob Parker. This round-up is posted with the author’s permission, with additional reporting by Scott W. Thanks for reading.

Guest Blog written by Rob Parker for EAL  [EAL Twitter: @EssexAllianceFL]

Essex Alliance League Senior Division – Saturday 28 August

The early leaders in the Senior Division are promoted Chadwell Heath Spartans who have followed up a narrow success in week one with a thumping victory the second time around, beating Chigwell Town in a 6 – 0 scoreline. Miguel Martins and Niru Hunwicks both bagged braces with Samir Aboulainaf and Jonathan Evans goals ensuring the points when home with Spartans. 

Lymore Gardens sit just a couple of points back at the head of the chasing pack as they followed up their emphatic win on Monday night with a point against unbeaten Leyton Royal. Ahmed Faisal had given Gardens the lead but a Royal equaliser by Bogdan Octavian Toana saw them take a share of the points in an eventual 1 – 1 draw, the sides seperated just by goal difference at this stage. 

Sandwiched between the two “L” sides sit a DTFC outfit who remain unbeaten themselves and picked up a point from their trip to Noak Hill to face Kit Out London. Kit Out were ahead but DT fought back to level and then lead themselves thanks to goals from Bill Golledge and Lewis Page before a late strike from distance rescued a point for the hosts for whom Marlon Ortiz and Badr Chiboub were on target in a 2 – 2 draw. 

Jolof Sports got themselves off of the mark in their first game of the new campaign as they made a short trip to fellow Newham-based CSM London at the West Ham Community Ground in Beckton. Jolof goals from Bogdan Ursica, Joshua Kewifio-Okai and Papa Ndiaye were more than enough to earn a 3 – 0 win, keeping CSM winless after their opening two fixtures. 


Fixtures – Saturday 4 September (top three tiers only, full list on the EAL website)

Senior Division

DT FC  v  Woodford East    | the Harlow Arena 3G

FC Petrocub  v  FC Baresi    | Noak Hill 3G

Lymore Gardens  v  Blue Marlin   | Lakeside 3G (2.30pm KO)

Rapid Chingford  v  Chadwell Heath Spartans  | Salisbury Hall SG (3pm KO)

Tower Utd  v Jolof Sports   | Mabley Green 3G


Premier Division

Dagenham Utd  v  Crookz Utd   | Castle Green Leisure Centre

Eastside  v  Frenford A   | Hackney Marshes

Marcelona  v  North East Lions   | Paringdon Sports Club, Great Parndon


Division One

Renegade  v  RCXI    | Hackney Marshes

Guest Blog: Essex Alliance League Round-up (Wk 1 – Sat 21 August) [EAL 21-22 23.8.21]

Hello and welcome to the first of th season’s round-ups of the Essex Alliance League, which continues on this blog under the “Guest Blog” strand. This shortened edition looks at the first-ever weekend of the new Step 7 (or Regional Feeder League) that took place n Saturday 21 August. My thanks to the EAL’s Rob Parker. This round-up is posted with the author’s permission. Thanks for reading.

Guest Blog written by Rob Parker for EAL  [EAL Twitter: @EssexAllianceFL]

Essex Alliance League Senior Division – Saturday 21 August

Following what was the shortest summer break in league history, the new Essex Alliance League started for our Senior Division clubs on Saturday as the country’s newest Regional Feeder League commenced with five fixtures.

The early league leaders after the opening fixtures are promoted Woodford East who made their bow in the top flight with an impressive 5 – 0 away victory at Tower United at Mabley Green to move top. Callum Maltese scored twice for East with Frank Glock, Sonny Feltwell and Matthew Stacey goals rounding off a top draw performance.

Sitting second on goal difference are another of the promoted sides as Chadwell Heath Spartans made a spirited start to top flight football edging a tight contest against Blue Marlin 2 – 1. Michael Ramsey and Samir Aboulainaf got the all important goals to win the game on their competitive debut at their new home in Chigwell.

It’s merely alphabetical order separating the sides in third and fourth respectively as DT FC opened their new campaign as they finished the last with a victory in a close contest with CSM London, the two sides meeting for the first time. And it was just an own goal that was the difference between the sides, DT the beneficiaries of that key moment to win 1 – 0 at the Harlow Arena.

It was another good day for a promoted side as Leyton Royal became of the third such side to record an opening day victory as they made the trip to Noak Hill to face last season’s London Junior Cup finalists, FC Petrocub. Florin Porceanu was on target with the only goal as another close game ended 1 – 0.

The final fixture on Saturday came from Walthamstow where the division’s fourth promoted side, Kit Out London, made the journey to east London to take on Rapid Chingford who were themselves looking for a positive start to the campaign. There was little between the sides in the end with the game ending in a 1 – 1 draw, both sides earning a hard fought point.


Fixtures – EAL Senior Division

Mon 23rd August – FC Baresi v Lymore Gardens | at Mayesbrook Park 3G (8pm KO)


Saturday 28th August (2pm KO’s I understand)

Chadwell Heath Spartans v Chigwell Town | Chigwell Hall Spts Grd

CSM London v Jolof Sports | West Ham Community Grd 3G, Beckton

Kit Out London v DT FC | Noak Hill 3G

Leyton Royal v Lymore Gardens | Salisbury Hall Spts Grd

2021 Club In-Focus – Dagenham Utd [CIF June 2021]

Written By Scott W  [Twitter: @ScottMHC14] – Non-League & EAL Writer

Hello and welcome to a ‘bonus’ instalment of ‘In-Focus’ blogs for Summer 2021. In this fourth article, I caught up with Essex Alliance League (EAL) side Dagenham Utd, who also competed in the group-only Essex Alliance League Cup since the resumption of Football in March this year.

The ‘Daggers’ have had a side in the EAL divisions since 2017, and although their first team are a more recent addition after coming over from the Olympian League.

In this article, I’m pleased to be joined by First Team player-boss (and Adult Section Chairman) Chris Mascall (CM) and First Team Secretary & Physio Jamie Mascall (JM) to give their thoughts on how the recent League Cup has been to compete in, the season as a whole, the inside track on the club and their thoughts on the change coming for the EAL next season. My thanks to them both for their time & Jamie for the Action images shown here.

Dagenham Utd compete in the Essex Alliance Lge (EAL)

SW: It’s fair to say that the 2020-21 campaign has been disrupted by the various lockdowns, but what positives would you all take from this campaign?

CM: “It’s a pleasure Scott, thanks for taking the time to talk to us also.” 

“It has been a frustrating campaign again in terms of the stop start of lockdown etc., but we do take some positives from the last lockdown as it allowed a couple of our key players to return from substantial injuries they suffered at the start of the season which disrupted our season towards the Xmas period. 

In terms of positives on the pitch this season, we had a strong showing in our league division, pushing at the top of the table for promotion for the majority of the season and picking up some very good results along the way. The restart of the league cup groups yielded some of our best results as we introduced a new system and style of play, which lead to us winning all of our cup group games bar one, narrowly missing out on silverware” 


SW: What was the favourite match of the season and why?

CM: “There have been some great matches this season but for the neutral, there’s only one that can really spring to mind. We had a home game early on in the season (on October 3rd 2020 – Ed) vs Forest Green which ended 5 – 4 to us with a winner in the 88th min, an outrageous goal from our winger Rodeny Dos Santos Varela whom cut in on the edge of the box and curled one into the opposite corner lobbing the keeper and leaving him stranded, the absolutely scenes that followed were amazing as it was pure euphoria and a goal worthy of winning any game at any level! Our Reserve team were playing at home too that week and won their game also and so the joint celebrations that took place immediately after the games were fantastic with both teams coming together to enjoy the results in what was a great show of the real family feel we have at this club.” 


SW: On or off-the-pitch, what was your most memorable moment/s from this season?

JM: “I would say it would have to be the game Chris just mentioned , the togetherness of the teams and the pure elation they both had for each other’s results was beautiful to see. It was a lovely day weather-wise, both teams winning in spectacular fashion and really felt like it was one of those moments that makes all the hard work running and organising these teams worth it. It was a real ‘this is why we do it’ moment.” 


Action Still (Dag Utd in Blue & White Stripes) [Image Credit: Jamie Mascall/Dagenham Utd]

SW: I vaguely remember the club’s first team being among the sides competing in Essex Olympian League (EOFL). How has it been competing in the Alliance League (EAL) since you came over at Division Two level?

CM: “Yes that’s right, our first team used to compete in the Essex Olympian league and moved across to the Alliance League last season. After transferring to Dagenham, I started my journey as First Team Captain and then moved into a management role with the Reserve team whom were entered into the Essex Alliance League in 2016/17 season I believe it was. It was a real ‘start from scratch’ project. I then moved into the First Team Managers role and the Adult Section chairman position, setting out a five-year progression plan for the men’s teams to aim towards. This was when we entered First & Reserve teams into the Alliance, comprised of a few key players from the Reserve team and a lot of new additions whom were eager to join the exciting project and we haven’t looked back since as I enter my 5th season managing within the EAL. 

In terms of abilities of the teams within the respective leagues, I genuinely don’t see much difference In quality, and the EAL have some great teams and players amongst the leagues.”


SW: You competed in Group D of the hastily-convened Essex Alliance League Cup finishing in third spot, two points behind leaders Cowley Community. How was it to return to playing after such a long lay-off?

CM: “To be fair, as I mentioned earlier, the break almost done us good in a sense that it allowed injured players to return, but of course you then loose the momentum of the team being together etc. What did really impress me however was that a large number of the first team especially took up 1-2-1 coaching with myself and really looked after themselves during the break, which was evident when we returned to action, where as I mentioned, we were unbeaten, bar one.” 

“The final Cup table makes for a slightly distorted view of the way the cup unfolded. We were joint-top along with Unitey after 3 games, both sides winning three a piece going into our encounter with them. We proceeded to draw that game which opened the door to Cowley to sneak up the mini group. We went into the final game of the season against Cowley joint top but with 3 less goal difference then Unitey, meaning we either required Unitey to draw or for us to beat Cowley by a four-goal margin at least, should Unitey win for us to lift the title.  I think this lack of clarity slightly affected us in the final fixture and we deviated from the way we had been playing so successfully since the restart, ultimately losing the final game 2-3 to Cowley, with Unitey drawing their final game a result that would have been ideal, meaning Cowley sneaked in and took the title. 

Absolutely full credit to them for clinching the title as the ‘dark horses’ when it seemed like race between two sides, they are a nice bunch of lads who were simply better on the day, but we take pride in the fact we were so close to silverware and intend to make sure we get our hands on some ourselves next time around ha!”


SW: It was announced recently that the Senior Division of the Essex Alliance League has been given Step 7 status by the FA, putting it on par with the Premier Division of the Essex Olympian League. Is reaching that division an ambition of the club & what is your reaction to the news as an EAL club?

CM: “It’s fantastic news for the league and all those whom make it tick and fully deserved for all their hard work in getting to that level. On a personal note, Barry [Fitzgerald], Rob [Parker] and Alan Spike for example have been extremely supportive towards us as a team and me personally, and this is evident in the piece you did with Rob a couple of weeks ago, where he name-checked Dagenham United as being one of the big teams that are looking likely progress up the footballing ladder, which is a great compliment to read [Pleasure to assist! – Ed). 

In terms of step 7 for us, absolutely, we’ve made no secret of hiding the fact that is very much the plan, to keep climbing up the footballing ladder and into the Non League system etc. We are delighted that we have gained promotion for the coming season to the Premier Division (next season’s EAL second-tier, below the Senior Division) from Div 2 and again feel it shows our progression as a club and our intent to wake what I feel is a sleeping giant of a club.” 


Dag Utd GK in action [Image Credit: Jamie Mascall/Dagenham Utd]

SW: How important is it that the EAL matches are covered by Independent amateur media, particularly with the said focus elsewhere on other divisions higher up the Non-League pyramid?

CM: “I think it’s fantastic that people like yourselves are starting to shine a light on grassroots football and highlighting the hard work that goes into these teams and the quality that Is actually within these leagues that very often get missed. As you mention, coverage higher up the pyramid is strong, but at this level is few and far between, but what it does mean, is that when independent amateur media like yourself do take the time out of your days to cover and focus on teams, you have the chance to really build relationships and respect from the teams and leagues you are covering, which I think is a great thing on a personal level, as often in football, especially higher up, that personal touch element often gets missed and it becomes very business orientated.” 


SW: In my research for this article, I saw you are one of a number of clubs now who film highlights of matches & then put them on your YouTube channel. How important do you feel doing things like that are to raise the profile of the club (and perhaps the League) as a whole?

CM: “I actually believe we were one of the first to really push the filming of fixtures, investing in a Veo Camera prior to pre-season to automatically record our games and create highlights of match days and other media content. The social media aspect is huge in today’s day and age and by far one of the easiest ways to attract interest in the club as it’s a physical representation of your team and whom you are and allows you to express your identity”

JM: “We not only use the filming of games to create highlight pieces etc, but use the footage for tactical analysis of games which has been crucial throughout the season in being able to Identify any areas of improvement whilst also highlighting the positives for individuals that many players often don’t have. Even at a good semi-pro standard, until recently very few games were recorded and so lots of players don’t have the opportunities to see themselves play and identify these areas to work on.” 

CM: In terms of the league’s social media coverage, I genuinely believe they are by far one of the best at any level in terms of engagement with their teams and individuals in the divisions and are very supportive of the social media content put out by clubs. The filming of the games from the league can only be a positive and shows their desire to offer that extra ‘personal touch’ each week. 


SW: What do you believe is the main difference between Intermediate/Grassroots Football and the top four steps of the Senior Non-League game?

CM: “Finances. Pure and simple in my honest opinion. Grassroots football has come under so much pressure with lack of help for funding, with costs rising exponentially each year for facilities especially, as quite simply there will always be more teams then there are good venues, meaning most places of hire can charge what they want, with very few teams owning or having leases to their own grounds at this level, every season you see the same story, teams folding left, right and centre, majority of the time simply down to lack of finances. I genuinely believe there are a lot of clubs out there, ourselves being one of them that have real potential to climb the footballing ladder, but football costs money and many are unfortunately ‘priced out’ of progression.” 

JM: “I agree, finances play a huge part in the gap between the standards of the senior non league game and grassroots football. It’s unfortunate, but a lot of the financial strains get placed upon the managers of these teams to keep the teams afloat let alone progressing forward. 

Thankfully, I’m fully supportive of Chris’s plans for the teams and the ambition he has to keep building the project, meaning the adult section have been fortunate enough to have the financial backing from ourselves to keep progressing. We take pride in the fact we can match what a lot of senior non-league teams can in terms of kits, equipment etc but that ultimately comes down to the passion and drive to want to be able to do this as-well, as we see the teams and the players as extended family and feel that is another of the key differences between the levels.” 


SW: Looking on now to the 2021/22 season, what are the short-term aspirations of the club?

CM: “To get some silverware under our belt and ultimately to gain promotion to the Senior Division, after a positive year this season which culminated in a promotion from Div 2 to the Premier Division. 

We would like to add some fresh faces to our current teams that believe in the project we have and can appreciate the progression we have made and to compliment the existing players we have. We have keen focus of developing young players and providing a pathway into men’s football as well, a luxury which is often not afforded. In our last game for example, we had four 17 year old players in the first team squad, with another 3 under 21’s and that is something we are committed to continue doing in the 21/22 season.”


SW: Finally, what other developments are on the way for the club in the future that you’d like to share?

CM: “As cliché as it sounds, We’ve got some really exciting plans in the pipeline that will elevate the club to another level. We have transferred to a 4G pitch for our men’s first team to ensure we have a better standard of playing surface to compliment the attractive football we play, whilst also securing a partnership which sees us gain the use of a clubhouse and bar for post-game socials, something we had been sorely missing in the last few seasons.” 

“With our ambitions to progress into the Senior division and continue up the footballing pyramid, we are in positive talks to secure a stadium and pitch for the 2022/2023 season [Readers, Ground-grading is a factor in Step 7 divisions – Ed] and have a secure home base with the fantastic current owners whom we are building a good relationship with.” 

End

If you’d like to catch up with the others article in this ‘In-Focus’ series relating to the Essex Alliance League, you can find them here

Essex Alliance League – The Future: https://survivor16b.wordpress.com/2021/06/11/2021-in-focus-essex-alliance-league-the-future-eal/ 

Club In-Focus – Chadwell Heath Spartans: https://survivor16b.wordpress.com/2021/06/14/2021-club-in-focus-chadwell-heath-spartans/  

2021 Club In-Focus – Chadwell Heath Spartans [CIF June 2021]

Written By Scott W  [Twitter: @ScottMHC14] – Non-League & EAL Writer

Hello and welcome the another of my latest series of  ‘In-Focus’ blogs for Summer 2021, marking five years for me as a Non-League writer. Second in the series is Essex Alliance League (EAL) side Chadwell Heath Spartans, who competed in the group-only Essex Alliance League Cup since the resumption of Football in March this year.

The “Spartans” are an ambitious club built from Day 1 by the Hunwicks family, soon after Neil Hunwicks decided to leave Hullbridge Sports who at that stage had just won the Essex Senior League title. But for the Hunwicks family, setting this club up was an altogether more personal venture. The Action image below is courtesy of @ABridgeTooFar16, used with thanks.

In this article, I’m pleased to welcome Chairman & photographer extraordinaire Neil Hunwicks (NH), who is joined by his sons, Spartans player-boss Aaron Hunwicks (AH) and player & Media Officer Ray Hunwicks (RH) to give their thoughts on how the recent League Cup has been to compete in, the season as a whole, the inside track on the club and their thoughts on the change coming for the EAL next season. My thanks to them all for their time.

SW: It goes without saying that the 2020-21 campaign has been disrupted by the various lockdowns, but what positives would you all take from this campaign?

NH: “As a family we are all still learning, not just about the club and the team, but also about working with each other. Trying to keep ourselves motivated in these difficult times was hard enough, but trying to keep the entire club engaged and motivated was a big challenge for us.

The campaign was good while we were playing and we probably were playing the best football in our short history, but the downtime during lockdown and the thought of another season being ‘null and void’ always loomed large at the back of our minds.

As Chairman, our biggest positive off the pitch was us becoming a ‘FA Charter Standard’ club. We always try to do everything in the right way and although a lot of the standards for the award were already in place, the League and County supported us getting things over the line.

On-the-pitch it has certainly been difficult to keep players motivated and interested in football with the stop start season that the clubs have faced, but the lads on the whole have been great. The support they have given the club on and off the pitch is all that we can ask for from our players and we just hope that we can complete a full season for 2021/22 and see how we go”

SW: What was the favourite match of the season and why?

NH:  “There could only be one match for me and that was away the Woodford East FC in October of 2020 I believe (Indeed it was – October 17th to be exact – Ed). Trying to take photographs and watch an unbelievable game was very difficult.

Woodford East were top of the league and unbeaten, we were third I think at the time and unbeaten. Both teams had a tight defence and had conceded few goals before the Spartans headed over to Woodford’s ground on that Saturday afternoon.

We had good support on that day as the game had been built up as a clash of the two top teams in the division and a chance of the unbeaten record of one of them going. It was the first time I had really felt nervous before a game, and I felt a bit of those same nerves around the camp. Aaron and Niru had done a good job preparing the team and leading up to the game the training sessions had been very good. The boys were all up for the clash and we had a strong squad available for selection.

Well without boring everybody with the details, it was an unbelievable game ending 6 – 5 to the Spartans and the celebrations at the end you would maybe have expected from a Cup final. It was sheer relief beating easily the best team we had played in the league and probably the strongest contenders for the title, had things got that far!

Looking back I think the Woodford East lads would agree that it was a real battle between two competitive sides and their dejection at the loss was the opposite to our elation at the victory and I’m sure if things were round the other way we would have felt their pain.”


SW: On or off-the-pitch, what was your most memorable moment/s from this season?

NH: “We have a positive and a negative for this really and they were both off-the-pitch. Let’s get the negative out of the way first! It was when we were told for a second time that the season was off, ‘null and void’ again! We couldn’t believe it! We had been robbed of the title in our first season as we were one win away from winning EAL Division Three before things were called off, but for things to be called off again was ridiculous and when you think we all played tournaments when we came back, we could have easily finished the league, but don’t get me started on the FA, I’ll shut up now.

The positive was great for us and as I have already mentioned we achieved Charter Standard, which was great for us as a new club. We have always tried to do things the right way and getting Charter Standard was a big plus for us as a club and it was that little piece of the jigsaw that we wanted to get done in season two.”

SW: It’s been two seasons since the Spartans were formed, what has it been like starting your history competing in the Essex Alliance League in that time?

NH: “The League is good and they have always been very supportive towards us, but at the same time we have tried to support the league. Ray is our secretary as well as playing and he always tries to make sure we do everything properly and on time. If he doesn’t win Secretary of the Year for last season it will be an absolute travesty, not that we are biased!” (Of course not! – Ed)

“The league also asked clubs to support them by obtaining Charter Standard and so we went ahead and put the work in to do it. Although we attended all the meetings back in the old days when people could still meet up, we always know that we can call or message any of the league committee and they will always get back to us with a helpful answer. That is what a new team needs because although me as the Chairman and Aaron as the player / manager having quite a few years background in the game, we have always done things for others and never had our own team, so it was a big learning curve for all the family. We thought for the last two seasons (although we haven’t actually finished one yet due to Covid-19) that we were in the right place & the right league and that has been confirmed recently when it was announced that the league had finally achieved one of its big goals by achieving Step 7 status.”

SW: You competed in Group B of the hastily-convened Essex Alliance League Cup with mixed results, finishing in third spot. How was it returning to playing after such a long lay-off?

NH: “It was great to get back and see everybody again and although we had some of the team who contracted Covid-19, everybody came through the other side and we’re safe!

Aaron (AH) had his own plans for the tournament, so I’ll let him explain…”

AH: “We were extremely pleased that there was some sort of Cup football to return to, although admittedly we were disappointed that the league couldn’t continue two seasons in a row. It was a difficult period for us as a club as the lockdowns left us and I’m sure many other clubs without players returning and with injuries. This made some of our games really challenging, but we did use the cup competition to experiment with some things we wanted to test, without points or league positions on the line and this has given us loads of ideas going in to next season to take the club forwards.

SW: It was announced last week that the Senior Division of the Essex Alliance League has been given Step 7 status by the FA, putting it on par with the Premier Division of the Essex Olympian League. Is reaching that division an ambition of the club & what is your reaction to the news as an EAL club?

NH: “Well, I’ll cover the reaction first as we were so pleased for the league and especially all the committee members who we knew had worked so hard on achieving this status. The league deserves it and it’s great for all the clubs that have stuck by the Essex Alliance League and haven’t jumped ship. Some of the clubs that have left the league may now want to come back, which will only strengthen the league, but I’m sure like the Olympian (League), the clubs coming in will now have to earn their place in the top flight.

As far as our club goes, as Chairman I can only guide my committee on what my own personal thoughts are about playing at Step 7. Our committee is made up of myself as Chairman, Aaron as player / manager, Niru as player / coach and Treasurer, he’s the numbers man. We then have Ray who plays as well as being the club Secretary and also the media wizard, so he arguably has the toughest job in the family and finally we have John who is a family friend from when the lads were at school, he is sometimes the voice of reason amongst the strong-willed Hunwicks family!

I think the pressure sits firmly with Aaron as manager and Niru as coach on this one, as they have got to be confident that they can put together a team that can compete at Step 7, Aaron continues on that note…

AH: As manager, my thoughts on Step 7 are that it is a fantastic opportunity for us as a club, should we be able to meet the requirements. It’s also a great opportunity for the players to compete at this level and test themselves against the best teams in the league. We are excited to see what the new season brings us as we are always trying to better ourselves and bring in new talent to help us reach our goals.”


Image from CH Spartans v CSM London (in EAL Cup in May 2021. image by @ABridgeTooFar16)

(Above) Action Still from CH Spartans v CSM London in EAL League Cup from May 2021, image by @ABridgeTooFar16


SW: Looking on now to the 2021/22 season, what are the short-term aspirations of the club?

NH: “Off the pitch I think we have loads of goals as we want to secure some longer-term sponsorship deals. This gives the club more stability, but it also gives us the opportunity to work with local businesses. We are big on getting the local community involved in the club, as we feel we represent them. Our history is local, and the family grew up here. We have a lot of local lads that went to Mayfield School which is where our home ground is now, so we are tied to the community, and we want the community to be tied in with us.

You will have noticed that we try very hard to get some good media out weekly. It’s not just about my photographs, but also a lot of work goes in to our videos and Ray (RH) is your man for that, so I’ll leave this bit to him…”

RH: “As the media man, striving to get better never stops for me. I’m continually challenging myself to put out better content on all platforms and as a small club I think we do very well. We sometime get criticised for missing a goal, but we make every effort to get it right and change things up as often as we can.

On the pitch, Aaron, Niru and John want the club to be playing at Step 7 status and to be able to hold our own in a very strong Premier Division. We want to bring in new blood that maybe won’t get a look in at the bigger clubs, but we are a team of opportunities, and we want competition for every position we have!”

SW: Finally, what other developments are on the way for the club in the future that you’d like to share?

NH: “We have a few things in the pipeline, but nothing we can share at the moment as our future is in the hands of others, but we are really confident our hard work will pay off, so watch this space!”

End

That’s all from this In-Focus article, again my thanks to the Hunwicks family for their time & I wish the Spartans well next season. If you’d like to find out more about the club, they are on Twitter – @CH_SpartansFC or on Facebook at @CHSpartansFC.   Hope you enjoyed the article.

Update (June 16) – After this article was published, it was announced via EAL’s constitutions that the Spartans will compete in the Senior Division (Step 7) from August 2021. Congrats to all at the club.

If you’d like to catch up with the first article in this ‘In-Focus’ series on the Essex Alliance League’s future, you can find it here: https://survivor16b.wordpress.com/2021/06/11/2021-in-focus-essex-alliance-league-the-future-eal/ 

2021 In-Focus – Essex Alliance League: The Future [EAL June 2021]

Written By Scott W  [Twitter: @ScottMHC14] – Non-League Writer

Hello and welcome to the first of my Summer In-Focus articles (marking Five Years for me as a Non-League writer), speaking to various parties in Non-League about the season just gone or about the future. In this article, I’m delighted to welcome Essex Alliance League (EAL) Media & Registrations Secretary Rob Parker [RP] to talk about the Essex Alliance League & its future after being announced as a Step 7 (Regional NLS Feeder) League from the forthcoming 2021-22 season, joining the Olympian League & Essex & Suffolk Border League top-tiers at that level.

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SW: Firstly, thank you very much for your time Rob. Many congratulations to you, the Essex Alliance League & all involved in achieving the new status for the forthcoming campaign. Could you tell us a little about the process that was required (Talking to the FA, your clubs etc) to gain this elevated status?

RP: “Talks around the idea began back in 2018 between the league’s Management Committee, our clubs and Essex County FA to discuss the issues that we felt were hindering the progression of clubs in our region. We put together a formal proposal which we presented to our member clubs in 2019, the result of which was resounding support of the proposal. Further talks then took place with Essex County FA before we lodged our application to the FA in December 2019 with all of the supporting documentation.

Following this application, we were then invited up to Wembley to put our proposal directly to the FA’s Leagues Committee, to discuss various aspects of the barriers our clubs face when trying to progress and also impact on football in the wider, regional context. The feedback we received was very promising and we were therefore hopeful we may be approved in time for 2020/21 season. But COVID then struck a matter of days later and, as we know, the season was voided across most levels of the NLS (National League System – the tiered approach in Non-League) which scuppered our short-term hopes. We weren’t deterred however and our application went in once again in November 2020 following which, after a long wait, we finally received the great news at the end of May this year.”

SW: It must be inspiring for clubs that have petitioned to be included within the Alliance League divisions, to see that one day they could have a chance to compete in Step 7, with a potential opportunity to battle for promotion into Senior Football. As a neutral, which clubs do you feel might find their way into your Senior Division in the next two-three years?

RP: “It certainly is a big draw for our league to have gained Regional Feeder League Status as it now enables us to provide a full pathway for our clubs, potentially starting out in our lower divisions as a brand new club, perhaps just a group of friends having a kick about in the park, to playing football within the National League System (NLS) in just a few seasons given the right sporting experience and structure in place. This is a progression route which we feel so passionately about and now avoids clubs having to venture well out of the area just to fulfil their ambitions of joining an NLS competition.

There are plenty of clubs who have the ambition to move up into Senior football. Almost every team we have interviewed this summer with a view to joining the league has been enthused about the opportunity ahead of them and it’s fair to say our existing clubs are equally looking forward to the challenge. When you have a look at our divisions beneath the Senior Division, there are some big, local clubs who are all chomping at the bit to move forward, sides such as Dagenham United, Frenford A, Barkingside A and plenty more will be joining us for the coming season. What is most exciting is the opportunity for all of our clubs to now recruit ambitious players who want to be part of the journey up the ladder.”

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SW: In my view, Essex having three Step 7 Leagues (the Essex Olympian League & Essex & Suffolk Border League being the others) now does show the strength of Intermediate Football in the Essex & East London area. How do you see participation growing in the area in the medium term as we emerge from the Covid pandemic?

RP: “Essex is already one of the best represented counties in terms of number of teams and player participation across the whole country with a dense population in the Metropoilitan Essex and East London areas particularly. It’s perhaps for this reason alone, along with many others, that this proposal benefits football in the region as there will always be a proportionately higher number of clubs seeking progression. I think that it’s a real feather in Essex’s cap to be producing and sustaining such a strong quality of football in the county and long may that continue.

There are still plenty of challenges coming up, particularly those around increasing the availability of senior standard football facilities to remove that obstacle over time but also with the effects of upcoming ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) charges for travel in east London which is going to add additional costs for some participants, in a time of financial uncertainty for many. As partners at the upcoming Parsloes Park developments, we hope to alleviate part one of those concerns at least and the other key thing that we are doing is to offer the best football product that we can to continue to increase participation and interest within our sport. The effects of the pandemic have been felt very acutely within grassroots football but it is clear that there remains a very strong level of interest and we hope that the new season will be a real celebration after some difficult years.”

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Regular round-ups of Alliance League action have been provided by Rob to radio shows like the Grassroots Football Show on East London Radio for some time now.

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SW: As an Intermediate (or ‘Junior’) League, how important is it going forward for the EAL to be represented in Independent Media (ie Writers/Radio & Social Media feeds)?

RP: “We’ve always taken a proactive approach to media as it it provides a real outlet for showcasing our clubs and the league itself to the outside world. When we interview new clubs, almost all of them say that they’ve seen our website and follow our social media presence and were impressed enough to apply to bring their own team into the league which is great feedback. Alongside that, we make regular contributions to local newspapers, podcasts, radio shows and independent media which, although it takes a lot of time, ensures we reach to as wide an audience as possible.

I’ve always spoken quite strongly on this topic as I firmly believe that if you aren’t publicising your work to the world, it’s possible that you are going to miss out on many opportunities. That could be new clubs or perhaps sponsorship/partnership opportunities. While social media can be a real challenging arena at times, it still remains a hugely effective platform for delivering a message and a good Media Manager is now almost as important as any other Management Committee role.”

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SW: I have to mention a word on the EAL’s history, could you take us through the journey from your beginnings from the merger of the Ilford & District League and the Essex Business Houses League in 2014, to the present day?

RP: “Back in 2013, the landscape of local football was vastly different and comprised of a number of local “district” leagues that were each facing their own battles with keeping clubs afloat and needing to find sufficient volunteers to run multiple leagues. At the time, I believe that the Ilford & District League was on the verge of being down to just two divisions and that the Essex Business Houses League was similarly looking at a one division set-up, neither of which were particularly thriving. While the leagues had very different backgrounds and therefore some different views, both shared some common objectives which proved to be fundamental when senior committee members of the two leagues got together to discuss the idea of a merger.

As 2014 was upon us, after a period of consultation, it was decided that the most appropriate way forward was for resources to be pooled and for a new league to be born, forming an alliance from the two predecessor competitions. With the two committees combined into one, roles allocated and buoyed on by many new clubs being excited enough by the idea to join, the Essex Alliance League was formed and things have really spiralled from there. From season to season, we’ve grown in membership to well over double the original size and football is once again thriving in the region. In a time of dificulty in finding volunteers to run leagues, it is perhaps a wise move for smaller competitions to work together to form new partnerships where resources can be pooled together.”

SW: I’ve heard that the new-look EAL Senior Division will likely be comprised of 14 clubs, what effect will that have on fixtures and when games will be played? 

RP: “That’s right – Regional Feeder Leagues are required to have at least 14 teams within those divisions and that’s the number we are looking at for the first season to not overburden our clubs unnecessarily, taking into account other competitions that the clubs will also be involved with.

Midweek football will be an inevitability for our clubs, particularly those without access to floodlights who will need to make good use of the natural light when British Summer Time returns in April next year.  We’d also expect a small smattering of midweek football throughout the season too as we do have almost half of our Senior Division clubs playing on venues with lights.

SW: When will the EAL divisions start in Season 2021-22?

RP: “Our Senior Division is planned to commence on Saturday 21st August given the extended length of the season in the division. The other divisions will begin on the first weekend of September as per usual.

SW: What other developments are on the way for the club in the future that you’d like to share?

RP: “Our greatest focus for the coming season is really to consolidate on what we have achieved in the past few months and ensure we work closely with our clubs to keep them in the best shape they can be post-pandemic. We are working hard to establish ourselves as an FA Charter Standard League in the coming seasons, soon to be known as England Football Accredited, and that will remain a focal point for development.

Additionally, as mentioned previously, we are a partner organisation for the new Parsloes Park development in Dagenham which is due to open in the final quarter of 2021 and we are very excited to be involved with that site going forward both for use as a key match venue but also as a site for our clubs to train, especially important given a real shortage of quality and affordable training facilities locally.”

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SW: Finally, how do you see this new adventure going in the next 12 – 18 months?

RP: “We certainly hope that this development is a real watershed moment for football in Metropolitan Essex and East London, providing greater, local opportunities for clubs and participants alike to realise their potential within the non-league football pyramid. Only time will tell on whether the availability of suitable senior facilities locally means that we can offer sides a regular chance of promotion to Step 6 competitions but, if the ambitions of our clubs are anything to go by, we hope to see at least one or two of our clubs operating at that level in the next couple of seasons. Whatever happens, these are certainly exciting times for the Essex Alliance League and the region.”

End


Update (June 16) – Here are the constitutions for the EAL divisions in season 2021-22 (Credit: @EssexAllianceFL)

Again, I’d like to thank Rob for his time and you have to agree that it could be a really fascinating season in the history of the Essex Alliance League starting in August. I wish all the League Committee & EAL clubs well. You can follow them on Twitter @EssexAllianceFL or on the web at essexallianceleague.com

Next in the ‘In-Focus’ series will be an EAL club interestingly, as I catch up with the Hunwicks family who built their club – Chadwell Heath Spartans, who played in Division One in the curtailed League season just gone. Thank you as ever for reading.