In case you missed the countdown to the New Year on the League’s Twitter feed (@bracknellsunday) we’ve reproduced it here for regular readers of Football in Berkshire.
2020 was to be an unprecedented year for football, a year that has spanned two seasons severely affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. We look back on some of the key events of this unique year.
A very wet start to the year saw many games postponed. Crowthorne Inn were early front-runners in the Premier Division and led for much of this period. Bearwood Wanderers led the Division 2 table and were to stay there until the season was curtailed. Their battle with William Twigg for the title would have been interesting. Four teams battled monumentally for the Division 4 title with FC Showcase, Bracknell Cavaliers Reserves, Harts of Bracknell and Bracknell Royals trading places at the top. AFC Dukes were to dominate Division 3.
FC Fernhill and Woodley Saints bowed out of the Berks & Bucks Intermediate and Junior Cups respectively at quarter-final stage.
After much of the opening two months being lost to some pretty awful weather, fixtures resumed in March. Loveman United won through to the Final of the Senior Cup whilst AFC Dukes and Bearwood Wanderers would contest the Final of the Junior Cup. Bracknell Rangers challenged FC Fernhill at the top of the Premier Division.
News of Covid-19 and its impact on the country intensified and on 16th March league competition was suspended following guidance from the FA. A ball was not to be kicked again in the 2019/20 season as, on 2nd April, the Competition, like all others at grassroots level, was declared null and void.
May was to have been a time when all 5 League titles were settled and the two League Cup Finals played. Instead, we were to embark upon the longest close-season in the Leagues history as we awaited further guidance from the FA and hope of a start of a new season.
Mid-July saw the issue of detailed guidance from the FA for a re-start to grassroots football. Having held our AGM virtually on 26th June (a first for the League) the season would start on Sunday 4th October.
Two new teams were to join the League in Bigshot and Freeman Royals. Woodley Saints and Harts of Bracknell were to enter reserve teams and Finchampstead Athletic were to return to the Premier Division. Running Horse would not return for the new season. The season was to open with the conclusion to the 2019/20 League Cup competitions.
September was to be a month of preparations as teams played pre-season friendlies under new FA guidelines. Morale Madrid were to resign before the League season started.
The season kicked off as planned on 4th October. AFC Dukes won the Junior Cup beating Bearwood Wanderers o penalties after the game finished 1-1 after 90 minutes play. FC Fernhill won the Senior Cup, beating Loveman United 2-0.
Early front runners in League competition during the first month of play were Crowthorne Inn (Premier Division), AFC Crowthorne (Division 1), new-comers Freeman Royals (Division 2), Bracknell Spartan Vets (Division 3) and Bracknell Athletic Reserves (Division 4).
November started with a full League programme. Bracknell Rangers won the Aldershot Invitational Cup, delayed from 2019/20, beating FC Fleet in an entertaining final at Farnborough FC. FC Fernhill resigned from the League. Then there was to be further disruption.
With Covid-19 rife in the UK, there was to be a further one-month national lockdown. League Cup 2nd round ties scheduled for 8th November were postponed and here was to be no further football played in November.
Competition resumed on 6th December under a new national Covid tier system and more stringent controls, but for only 2 weeks before the season was again suspended. Front runners at the time of this latest suspension in play were Finchampstead Athletic (Premier Division), AFC Crowthorne (Division 1), Freeman Royals (Division 2), FC Showcase (Division 3) and Bracknell Athletic Reserves (Division 4).
And so, the year has ended in uncertainty. With less than a third of the Leagues competition played in a much disrupted 2020/21 season we wait to see if, and when, football can resume once more.
The Leagues Management Committee wishes all Bracknell Sunday League teams and their families a Happy New Year, hoping that we can get back to doing what we love soon.