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Best Of Enemies

Best Of Enemies

Jon Dean17 May - 21:45
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New Friends, Old Foes In Division Shake Up

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, Turn and face the strange, Ch-ch-changes, Don't want to be a richer man.
- David Bowie - Musician

At 2pm today, the embargo was lifted by the FA and the National League System Club allocations for the 2024-25 season were revealed.

Come August, Hoddesdon Town, as expected, will remain in the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties Football League Division One, step six of the footballing pyramid. But the landscape of the league has changed considerably today, with plenty of movement for clubs around us.
Firstly, there will be less league games next season as the division has been cut from 22 teams to just 20 for the forthcoming season. We have lost 5 teams but gained 3 new ones so let’s break it down and see who has gone where.

Let’s look at who we have lost.

The ‘Southern’ Counties East Football League has gained Clapton FC, Clapton Community FC and Tower Hamlets.

Sideways movement always feels like unknown territory, but we are sure these clubs will settle into life in a new league and hit the ground running. We will miss our trips to the Terence McMillan Stadium, The Old Spotted Dog and of course, The Mile End Stadium, but without a single league win at any of those grounds last season, perhaps the players may not share that sentiment and won’t grieve for too long at the loss.

We also wave goodbye to our friends and local neighbours, Wormley Rovers. Their extraordinary season that ended in Play Off victory, sees them promoted to the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division. We wish them all the very best of luck.

Title winners Benfleet have been rewarded with promotion to the Essex Senior League Premier Division and again, we hope they enjoy a successful season in their new division.

Incredibly, we haven’t lost any of the three teams that finished in the bottom three places of the league. All clubs finishing third from bottom and second from bottom at Step 6 of the Pyramid have been reprieved and will not fall through the trapdoor.

That means that both Park View and local rivals St Margaretsbury will once again be making their way to Lowfield sometime next season. All at the club are delighted with this news, especially with regards to St Margaretsbury.

With the way allocations work now in non-league football, local derbies are not always guaranteed and can be few and far between, depending on where you are placed. For example, it was announced today that former Northwest Counties Football League side Kendal Town, have been moved to the Northern Football League Division One.

To put that into context, next season they can look forward to a five hour round trip to the likes of Whitley Bay and North Shields on a cold Tuesday evening!

Therefore, we are delighted that our friends (through gritted teeth) have been given a stay of execution and will once again do battle with us for local bragging rights.

The last team to consider is Burnham Ramblers.

The Ramblers finished rock bottom of the Eastern Counties Division One South, with just eleven wins all season. However, according to the FA’s email this morning, they too have been reprieved and will remain in the division.

We also retain the following clubs who failed to make it to a play-off position for the chance of going up:

Barkingside, Basildon Town, Brimsdown, Cannons Wood, Dunmow Town, Enfield Borough, Hackney Wick, Harlow Town, Hutton, May & Baker, Newbury Forest, NW London and Southen Manor.

So, who have we gained?

First up is Coggeshall Town.

Founded in 1878, The Colchester based club finished bottom of the Essex Senior Premier Division, winning just 4 games all season, drawing 5 and losing 29 with a goal difference of -66 and 17 points on the board. Heavy defeats such as the 7-0 away loss to FA Vase Runner Up, Great Wakering Rovers, and the 7-2 home defeat to FA Vase Winners Romford, saw them endure a torrid season and finally finish plum last in Step 5. Even Reggie Gregory’s nine goals in 31 appearances couldn’t save the Essex outfit and they will drop down into our division, giving us a nice new ground to visit.

Affectionately nicknamed 'The Seedgrowers', Coggeshall will be no pushovers however, and they have plenty of experience in this league, being the Eastern Counties League Premier Division Winners 2017/18 and the Eastern Counties League Division One Runners Up 2016/17.

Back in June 2023, Chelmsford City Football Club and Coggeshall Town Football Club announced a new footballing partnership. The agreement sees Chelmsford City work closely with Coggeshall Town to help develop the Coggeshall Town men’s first team and, over time, seek promotion back to the Isthmian League whilst enhancing the Chelmsford City Player Development Pathway.

A small incremental playing budget has been agreed for the Coggeshall Team to enable the squad to be strengthened with some seasoned players that can help guide and support the developing talent provided from Chelmsford City. Quite the backing from a side who finished runners up in the Vanarama National League South last season and you would think that the advantage of being able to bring in some of their talented youngsters will certainly give them a leg up the league table this coming season.

Follow Coggeshall Town on Twitter HERE or check out their website HERE.

Next up, we have FC Baresi.

Winners of the Essex Alliance League Senior Division, it has been an incredible rise through the ranks for the club who were originally based in Walthamstow. In 2017-18 they were Division 3 League & Cup winners, in 2018-19 they were Division 1 Champions and the 2023-24 season saw them crowned champions of the Senior Division.

Playing their football last season at Wodson Park, home of Ware FC, they won the title at a canter, 13 points clear of their nearest rivals, Woodford East. With a record this past season of P28, W22, D5, L1, GF101, GA32, GD+69 and 71 Points on the board, they are certainly ones to watch.

A maiden season at Step 6 will not the daunt the newcomers and with players like ex Ware hot shot Murat Karagul in their ranks, eyes will be firmly fixed not just on survival, but challenging for a top 5 finish for the club that was founded in 1997.

Follow FC Baresi on Twitter HERE.

Finally, we welcome Rayleigh Town.

A close fought season long battle with Old Southendian and Sungate Saturday saw manager Rob Hodgson and his side clinch automatic promotion as champions of the Essex Olympian League Premier Division.

With a record of P26, W22, D1, L3, GF79, GA21, GD+58 and 67 points in total, the team play their football at the home of Concord Rangers Football Club in Canvey Island. Rayleigh also won the BBC Essex Saturday Premier Cup after beating Brightlingsea Town 3-1 at Aveley FC’s Parkside ground just two days ago.

Forward Gianni Frankis was the standout player for the team in last season’s campaign, notching 20 goals in 26 appearances for his side. However, the British-born Italian athlete who represented Great Britain in the 110m Sprint Hurdles at the 2009 World Championships, left the club in mid-April prior to the conclusion of the season, after being ‘let go’ according to his Twitter page.

You can follow Rayleigh Town FC on Twitter HERE.

You can also read more about the National League System (NLS) club allocations for Steps 1-6 by heading over to the FA website HERE.

So, with that, here is the full line up for the 2024-2025 season in the Eastern Counties Football League Division One South.

  • Barkingside
  • Basildon Town
  • Brimsdown
  • Burnham Ramblers
  • Cannons Wood
  • Coggeshall Town
  • Dunmow Town
  • Enfield Borough
  • FC Baresi
  • Hackney Wick
  • Harlow Town
  • Hoddesdon Town
  • Hutton
  • May & Baker
  • Newbury Forest
  • NW London
  • Park View
  • Rayleigh Town
  • Southend Manor
  • St Margaretsbury

We can’t wait for the season to start!

See you soon.


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