It’s been a long time coming, but Dan Bateman’s Wokingham & Emmbrook and Derek Sweetman’s Holyport have been promoted.
The two Hellenic League Division One East sides have been promoted to the Combined Counties League Premier Division North in the FA restructure that puts them in a competitive Berkshire flavoured division that includes Windsor, Reading City, Ascot United and Tadley Calleva.
Both sides had been pushing for promotion in each of the two curtailed seasons and will now compete at a higher level – albeit one both clubs have competed at before.
Wokingham’s official Twitter account greeted the news that step 5 football will return to Lowther Road with: “Fantastic news for all involved in particular managers Dan Bateman and Matt Eggleston and all the players over the past two seasons. A special mention for Reserves Manager Ian Narraway who not only supports the firsts but also spends enormous [amount of] time getting the pitch and facility’s up to scratch.”
In their Wokingham & Emmbrook guise, the Sumas have played at step 5 between 2010 and 2013, as well as the 2015/16 season.
Similar feelings echoed at Holyport, who return to a level they last played at in 2015: “Congratulations to everyone involved, this is reward for the hard work over two years for all the players, management, committee, volunteers and spectators. We look forward to visiting some new grounds but will miss our friends in the Hellenic League. The hard work begins now!”
Port have played the majority of the 21st century at step 6 but were more than a match for the clubs around them at step 5 between 2011 and 2015 when they took voluntary relegation, which according to the Windsor Express was a bid to take a step back and strengthen: “The circumstances of the committee have changed and not all can commit to life in the Premier Division and it was decided that the club should take a step back and strengthen the committee and their links to the local clubs to help aid our position within the community.”
See the full Combined Counties League constitution here.