Update: since publishing this piece we understand Woodley’s game has been postponed due to issues with ground availability.
The new Uhlsport Hellenic League Division 1 East season kicks off on Saturday with all 14 teams in action though in a quirk of the fixture computer only one local side at home.
That side is division new boys Sandhurst Town who host Chalfont Wasps after transferring across from the Combined Counties League Division 1 where they finished 11th in 2015/16.
We know little about the Fizzers going in to the season, but we suspect we’ll get familiar with them as the season kicks into gear – particularly with Bracknell Town ground-sharing at Bottom Meadow until at least the end of September.
Wokingham & Emmbrook, one of the favourites in our minds and our Hellenic Panel to go straight back up to the Premier Division make the short trip through West Berkshire to face Didcot Town Reserves while our dark horses Finchampstead travel to Chinnor and Woodley United have a tough start at last seasons fourth placed side Headington Amateur’s.
Talking of tough starts, newly promoted AFC Aldermaston travel to defending champions Penn & Tylers Green for their opening fixture – the Berks side came up from the Thames Valley Premier League last season despite finishing 7th, so it will be a real early test for the new step six club.
Here’s the teams we’ll be following by last seasons standings..
Last season: 7th – Thames Valley Premier League. Like Sandhurst, these guys are a bit of an unknown. Gained promotion after finishing 7th in the Thames Valley League and much will depend on building some momentum early after winning only two of their last eight games last season.
Last season: 8th – Hellenic League Division 1 East. Our dark horses. Have largely improved league positions each season since Jon Laugharne took over and have an experienced squad, particularly defender Garry Callaway who has the nous to guide Finch forward.
Last season: 11th – Combined Counties League Division 1. Much improved last season after finishing bottom of the Combined Counties Division 1 in 2014/15. Will be a bit of an unknown to teams in the Hellenic League and could spring a surprise.
Wokingham & Emmbrook
Last season: 20th – Hellenic League Premier Division. Will be eager to avoid a relegation hangover. New manager Clive McNelly has kept the spine of his side but will miss the goals of Luke Scope. Much will rest on the experienced shoulders of Sam Whiting and Elliott Rushforth.
Last season: 13th – Hellenic League Division 1 East. A new manager and a demanding coach. Woodley don’t have to do much to improve on last place last time out and you wouldn’t bet against them but can they emulate the 2013 side that finished third?
Agree or disagree with our assessments? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page.
In the meantime here are the weekends full Division 1 East fixtures. You can see the full table and results as they come in here.
Bicester Town vs Rayners Lane
Chinnor vs Finchampstead
Didcot Town Res’ vs Wokingham & Emmbrook
Headington Amateur’s vs Woodley United
Penn & Tylers Green vs AFC Aldermaston
Sandhurst Town vs Chalfont Wasps
Wantage Town Res’ vs Holyport