Action from Bracknell Town vs Cowes Sports in the FA Cup. Photo: Neil Graham.
Action from Bracknell Town vs Cowes Sports in the FA Cup. Photo: Neil Graham.

FA Cup replays, Hellenic League and ground shares – the changes you’ll need to get used to in 2021/22

Time to cram for the new season!
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Action from Bracknell Town vs Cowes Sports in the FA Cup. Photo: Neil Graham.
Action from Bracknell Town vs Cowes Sports in the FA Cup. Photo: Neil Graham.

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Whether it’s entirely new division’s or the basics of social media, there’s plenty of change coming in the 2021/22 season and that’s before we even consider the possible affects of an ongoing Covid pandemic.

One things for sure though, there’s a lot to keep up with going in to the new season and hopefully, Football in Berkshire has managed to capture a few of them in the list below.

So it’s goodbye journey’s down the M4 west and hello drives toward London, at rush-hour.. not that we are complaining, it’s just going to be great to have local football back!

Replays

The FA Cup replays are back, but the FA Trophy and FA Vase will remain single fixtures – and the two-legged semi-finals for both competitions have been given the chop again meaning another club could feasibly ‘do a Binfield’.

Details of all the FA draws are here.

Goodbye to the Hellenic

A Hellenic League football at The Rivermoor, Reading. Photo: Tom Canning
A Hellenic League football at The Rivermoor, Reading. Photo: Tom Canning

Unless you’ve been focussed elsewhere the past few months, you’ll know that all the Berkshire sides at step 5 and 6 will now play in the Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League. The County has been split across the Uhlsport Hellenic League and CCL for years now but the latest National League System (NLS) restructure means the Berks sides have moved lock-stock and barrel. A late appeal by Wallingford Town as well ensured the most easterly side left in the Hellenic would also move across.

Football in Berkshire has been almost completely focussed on the Hellenic in recent years so it’ll be sad to say goodbye! And that means..

No more trips West down the M4..

That’ll be quite a relief for a lot of clubs, although we’ll see how we all do in the London/M25 traffic. We might all be yearning for a trip to Longlevens on a Tuesday night come the end of the season.

Or is it..

Just when you thought you could focus all your resources in one place, off go Newbury and join – we think – the Hellenic League Division Two.

All change

Maidenhead United's James Comley. Photo: Darren Woolley / darrenwoolley.photos
Maidenhead United’s James Comley. Photo: Darren Woolley / darrenwoolley.photos

It seems the squads of the two sides at the top of our pyramids are destined to go through annual turnover with both Maidenhead United and Reading FC Women seeing plenty of ins and outs.

For the Vanarama National League Magpies, a number of their squad have trodden the now well-worn path to the Football League with Josh Coley joining Exeter City and Danilo Orsi headed Harrogate Town while long-serving James Comley and fellow midfielder Rohan Ince has also departed.

Headed the other way are the likes of defender Will De Havilland and forwards Emile Acquah from Southend United and Dylan Asonganyi from Oxford United plus of course, goalscoring goalkeeper Rhys Lovett.

For Reading Women, the departures may be slightly more keenly felt what with England’s record appearance maker Fara Williams retiring while fellow midfielders Angharad James and Jess Fishlock have also moved on to America. Thankfully there’s been a flurry of new faces including striker Tash Dowie from AC Milan and Chloe Peplow from Spurs.

Promotions

Up go Binfield in to the Isthmian League for the first time ever, playing against neighbours Bracknell Town and Thatcham Town, while Berks County are elevated to step 6 from the Thames Valley Premier League.

We’ve also got Holyport and Wokingham & Emmbrook making the jump to step 5 to look forward to and we’re expecting to see a couple of new clubs in the Thames Valley Premier League.

Social Media

Binfield's social media manager Chloe Streak at Wembley. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com
Binfield’s social media manager Chloe Streak at Wembley. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

It goes without saying, Social Media has been appalling of late, BUT, it remains an incredibly useful tool for non-league and women’s clubs to get themselves noticed.

A number of Berkshire sides have been pushing boundaries for some time – particularly on Twitter – with the likes of Caversham United, Reading City and Ascot United impressing with their social media nous.

And now more clubs are getting in on the act, whether it’s Chalvey Sports, S4K Ladies (who’s work online recently led to them being featured on Sky Sports News) or Chloe Streak at Binfield, it’s never been easier keeping up with what’s going on at your club(s).

We best think about upping our game!

Ground moves

Plentiful! The chess pieces have moved about and settled on the ground shares for the 2021/22 season with the latest being Chalvey Sports switch from Arbour Park to The Gore, home of Burnham Football Club.

Sadly there will be no more trips to the Rec Soc. AFC Aldermaston have moved in with Thatcham Town at Waterside Park to ensure they keep their step 6 status while Bracknell Town will share with Sandhurst Town on grass at Bottom Meadow.

Tadley Calleva

Joining our ‘just over the border’ family are North Hampshire side Tadley Calleva. The Tadders are, along with all the Berkshire clubs at step 5 and 6 moving, to the CCL so you’ll start to see a bit more about them on FiB this season, especially as they are just across the border from Aldermaston, Mortimer and Burghfield.

Tadley will be lead next season by former Thatcham Town defender Gareth Thomas.

What have we missed? Let us know in the comments below.

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