Compiled by Scott W [Twitter: @ScottMHC14]
Hello everyone and welcome to the another of my articles previewing the 2020-21 season, ahead of the start of a very unique pre-season. In this piece we’ll have a look at the Constitutions for all six Essex Olympian League (EOFL) divisions (the Premier Division sits at Step 7 & is a ‘NLS Feeder League’). These listings could still be subject to alteration in due course, but is compiled from known information. Thanks to the EOFL for the info used, you can find out more on their website – eofl.co.uk
Finally, if there is any info that is inaccurate, could I ask clubs to DM me on Twitter and I will amend, thank you. Every effort has been made to keep it up to date.
(NEW) = New Side for 2020/21 Season
* Taken Voluntary Relegation (one division lower)
^ = Name TBC (Given May & Baker have entered a side in the Essex Senior Reserve Division)
Premier Division – Senior Two (Top three Tiers of Olympian League) Constitution
The EOFL top-tier is a rarity in this it is untouched by club movements in 2020-21. Prior to the rapid shut-down caused by Covid-19, Sungate led the table, six points ahead of Leigh Ramblers. The Belfairs Park side saw manager Wayne Seal depart during the close season, I’d like to wish him well in his new role as a assistant boss to Dave Forbes at Frenford this term. Reigning champions Buckhurst Hill finished third last term but were denied the chance to play out their remaining twelve games to go for the title. Better news for Mark Williams’ side came this week as the club received permission by Epping Forest District Council to put in floodlights, a hundred-seater stand and a similar sized standing area at their Roding Lane ground, as they seek to finally get themselves up to Step 6 in the near future.
Elsewhere, managerial changes also took place at four other clubs with former Basildon Utd & Walthamstow forward Marcus Bowers returning to Basildon Town as player-manager. Also, ex-Southend Manor boss Stuart Marshall coming in at Catholic Utd who will also look to challenge at the higher reaches of what this writer believes will be a highly-charged and competitive division this term. Harold Wood Athletic are also in a transition period as long-standing gaffer Kris Taylor stepped aside to a new role ‘Club Manager’. Also, Matt Singh has been appointed as first team boss at Hutton, after taking charge of the Reserves last season (in Division Three). I’d like to wish all four managers well in their new role.
It goes without saying that Basildon Town, Hutton & Harold Wood Athletic will all be looking for better campaigns than last as they all ended up in the bottom three back in March.
EOFL Senior One & Two
Senior One is largely unaltered from last term as well, with one notable exception. In what is an unusual turn of events, Lakeside (Firsts) decided to fold at the end of the season, despite a fourth-place finish. There will be more to come on that below in Senior Three. Two known changes also in the dugout for Senior One clubs as ex-Epping Town goalkeeper Trevor Grace was appointed as boss at Manford Way shortly after the season’s premature closing. Also, with former boss Jason Emery concentrating on his role as Chairman at Runwell Sports, Jason Plom has been appointed as his successor as manager. I’d like to wish both well in their new roles.
Staying with Runwell Sports, they are another club which has laid big plans for the future, with the opening of a new academy and work starting later this year on a new clubhouse, changing rooms and importantly, a new 3G playing surface, following the likes of Frenford, Bowers & Pitsea and Old Southendian who have all gone down that route.
Chingford Athletic, Old Chelmsfordians and Ongar Town will once again be looking to be in the top four though again, it could again be a hard-fought division. Into Senior Two, and whilst the clubs competing in it are unchanged, Leigh Town, Beacon Hill Rovers, Old Southendian Reserves and Corinthians will once again look to replicate their top-four finishes from last term. It was in a way a ‘surprise’ division, but in the sense of the quality of football being much better than you might have thought. Old Southendian Reserves will have a new gaffer as well, with Ben Manley stepping down, being replaced by last season’s skipper Oliver Tatton-Bennett as they begin their first full campaign on their 3G surface at Garon Park. Ryan and Rochford Town were fortunate perhaps to avoid the drop to Senior Three and will want a better campaign this term as well.
EOFL Senior Three – Five constitution
Round-up – EOFL Senior Three to Five
First, in Senior Three there are two new sides and one side exiting. The side that have withdrawn is White Ensign Reserves who have elected to move to the Essex Senior Reserve Division, following the lead of Frenford Reserves who departed for the same division the season previous. The new sides are a re-imagining of Lakeside Reserves from last term, being rebranded as Lakeside Utd who I understand will remain at the Lakeside Sports Ground 3G where they played last term. Also, Manford Way Reserves have returned after an inactive spell and will compete alongside last season’s top three of ACD Utd, Wakebury and Corinthians Reserves.
Next, in Senior Four, there are three new sides with Sungate Reserves who come up from the Essex Alliance League Division Two last term, but they have previously played in the EOFL in years gone by. The other new side is a re-brand of sorts as it was announced at the end of last season that Forest Glade, who finished fifth last term, would join the Hashtag Utd family of sides, and will compete under the moniker of Hashtag Utd Development this term.
Finally, in Senior Five, there are two sides who will face the likes of Bishop’s Stortford Swifts Reserves, Springfield Reserves and Collier Row’s second-side. AS Rawreth’s Reserve side is restored after a spell out and will compete in the sixth-tier from September. Epping Town also field a reserve side in the sixth-tier so we wish them well as the club continues its rebuilding at Stonards Hill. Lastly, in a cruel twist, last season’s Senior Four table-toppers Roydon have effectively dropped a division, due to their reserve side folding in the summer, who did compete in this division last season, earning a decent mid-table finish.
That’s all from this Preview piece, coming up soon will be a look at the draws for the EOFL Senior League Cup and Reserve League Cup which the Olympian League Committee will run this season. Thanks for reading.