The Thames Valley Premier League will continue in to June.
Those were the words that greeted us when news that the TVPL was planning on not only restarting, but would try to finish the 2021/22 season where competitions higher up the English Football Pyramid had already curtailed theirs.
The plan to get going again after lockdown restrictions eased earlier this year has not only proved a smart move, it’s – not even arguably – been a triumph.
That’s not to say it’s been easy. Not all clubs restarted their seasons, some teams had to find alternative venues to get the fixtures in, at times play three games in a week and all the associated off-the-field admin that goes with it, but it happened, and it’s worked.
Step 7 is primarily about players. But the TVPL’s decision to continue has had the added bonus of – as we predicted – putting the clubs that play in it in the spotlight. Football in Berkshire has been on hand to see over 200 in attendance at the West Berkshire derby between Mortimer and Burghfield and there have been countless other large attendances reported across the county.
We’ve seen and heard of people travelling miles to watch games from all corners of the country – Cornwall, Essex, you name it! We’ve even had a proper three-way title race in the Premier Division between Berks County, Burghfield and Finchampstead!
The leagues relaxed rules around teams not being fined for not being able to field a team has also helped. It was always inevitable with so many games to play that teams – used to playing Saturday’s only – might struggle with multiple midweeks. But rather than wrack up a sizeable fines sheet, the TVPL let it go.
That might be frustrating at times, we all want titles decided on the pitch, but bigger picture, it’s enabled the competition to get to the verge of completion with some great football played. The decision to ‘crack on’ has been a solid one.