It’s been a long six months since most of our local Sunday teams played their last competitive games but this Sunday (4th October) sees the long-awaited start to a new Bracknell & District Sunday League campaign.
There have been two games played over the past week or so though as, first, Bracknell Rangers secured a place in the much delayed Aldershot Invitational Cup Final by beating holders Lightwater in the semi-final 3-1 and last Sunday saw the one outstanding semi-final played in the league Senior Cup that saw FC Fernhill defeat Morale Madrid 3-1 to book a place in this Sunday’s Final against Loveman United (kick-off 5 pm at Bracknell Town FC). That will be preceded by the Final of the League Junior Cup that sees AFC Dukes take on Bearwood Wanderers, also at Bracknell Town FC (ko 1.30 pm).
FC Fernhill will undoubtedly be favourites to lift the Bracknell Sunday League Premier Division title again this season but will be closely challenged by Bracknell Rangers, who open their season with a home fixture against Finchampstead Athletic, themselves making a return to the League. Elsewhere newly promoted Woodley Saints will look to continue their excellent progress since joining the League with an away fixture at Raglan. Completing fixtures for the opening day in the Division, Crowthorne Inn host Berks County.
In recent seasons Division 1 has been highly competitive and this seasons competition sees Cup Finalists, and 2018/19 Division 1 Champions Loveman United looking to bounce straight back up to the top division and will be amongst the front-runners in the season ahead. Joining them are Panthers, also relegated, as well as promoted Bearwood Wanderers, who have made excellent progress through the League since joining. Newcomers Bigshot will be strong, as will Finchampstead Athletic Reserves. Pick of the opening days fixtures see Panthers take on Athletico Ascot, front runners for much of last seasons unfinished campaign, whilst Crowthorne host Wokingham & Emmbrook.
Division 2 sees another new team in Freeman Royals, who have impressed in pre-season, though all eyes will be on Cup Finalists AFC Dukes who looked set to win the Division 3 title before the season was curtailed and have strengthened in summer. Pick of the opening weekend’s fixtures see Freeman Royals travel to play Bracknell Corinthians whilst relegated Woodley United and Bracknell Athletic face tough opening day opposition in Silver Birch and Winnersh Rangers respectively.
Division 3 sees 4 promoted teams looking to renew battle that saw them trading positions in Division 4 for much of last season. Bracknell Royals looked to be finishing the stronger and will start as favourites for the title but will again be challenged by Bracknell Cavaliers Reserves, Harts of Bracknell and FC Showcase. An experienced Bracknell Spartans Vets team, as well as newcomers Woodley Saints Reserves, will also have a say. Opening day fixtures see Bracknell Spartans Vets hosting Bracknell Royals that may prove to be the pick of the weekend whilst, elsewhere, Woodley Saints Reserves host FC Showcase.
The race for the Division 4 will as ever, be tough to call. Relegated 3M and Hope & Anchor will on paper pose the strongest challenge though Finchampstead Athletic A will have a say.
Football in Berkshire wishes all Bracknell Sunday League teams every success and enjoyment for the season ahead, reminding all of the need to follow Covid-19 Guidance provided to the grassroots level of the game by the FA. Let’s hope for a conclusion to the season come next May but most importantly of all stay safe and well.