There have been many challenges facing the Essex Olympian League and the member Clubs this season. Those challenges have been met and Clubs continue to develop which is testimony to this League and the Clubs involved in it.
Five Clubs were given the opportunity to move into the new Step 6 League which was created for Essex Clubs at the start of the 2018/19 season. The Eastern Counties invited us to sit on their Management Committee and we have enjoyed a good working relationship in this first season. We hope and expect this to continue in the years ahead.
We have also worked closely with the Mid Essex League again this season and we expect the two Leagues to merge for the 2020/21 season. The removal of formal barriers between us will be beneficial for the retention and development of teams and clubs.
This season the League has piloted the use of sin bins for dissent which has been a great success. Fines have been reduced for Clubs and dissent has also declined. Next season its use will be compulsory. Selective piloting of schemes like this shows forward thinking.
League finances have been extensively reviewed by the newly formed finance committee which has led to the removal of all transfer and registration fees which reduces administration and costs. We continue to look at further use of on line systems. This season we have moved to having handbooks on line.
The introduction of a League Ground Grading Officer has helped focus on Club facilities particularly when a Club wants to move ground, on gaining promotion to the Premier Division and when Clubs first look to join the EOFL.
We are very close to becoming a Charter Standard League. The member Clubs have worked hard to gain the status and the League has assisted this process by providing free First Aid courses.
There has been so much work away from the field of play which everyone connected to the League should be proud of.
On the field, despite losing some strong teams to Step 6, EOFL Clubs continue to perform well against Clubs from other Leagues.
Buckhurst Hill won the Essex County Premier Cup for the second season running, Old Southendian Reserves won the Junior Cup and Ongar Jubilee U 21’s made it a clean sweep with the Junior Trophy. Catholic United won the Anagrams Record Trophy for the second season in a row.
In League Competitions Ongar Jubilee are the Under 21 Division Champions with Leytonstone United the runners-up. Corinthians Reserves won Division Five from Collier Row in second place.
Division Four was eventually won by Corinthians from runners-up Epping Town.
There was another tight finish in Division three where Old Southendian Reserves were Champions and Laindon Orient finished second.
Chingford Athletic won Division Two on the last game from Toby. Shenfield were Division One Champions with Basildon Town runners-up.
Buckhurst Hill were run away winners of the Premier Division with Kelvedon Hatch in second place.
In the Cup Competitions Ongar Jubilee won the Under 21 Denny King Cup, Basildon Town won the Reserve Cup and Bishops Stortford Swifts won the Senior Cup. Catholic United won the Season’s opener, the Senior Challenge Cup.
The Referee of the season was Dave Tregaskas. The Club Assistant was Tony Marquis of Shoebury Town and the Clubman was Mark Osbourne of Leytonstone United. The leading goal scorer was Aaron Blair with 40 goals from only 21 appearances.
The Patron’s Award goes to Alan Banks for his long commitment to Roydon football club.
A Special Award was presented to Alan Friend as he retires from the League after 20 years’ service.
We expect everyone in the League to be respectful, disciplined and responsible which is why we look to give financial awards to Clubs that display these characteristics. The Sportsmanship awards recognise good behaviour over the whole season. The winner of the team award for Sportsmanship goes to Newbury Forest Reserves and the Club award goes to May and Baker.
Congratulations to all the Trophy and award winners this season.
Sadly, the League lost good servants this season as Don Stewart and John Pickering both passed away.
We will not be able to continue running the Under 21 Division next season which we are all sad about. However, the Division ran for six seasons and introduced a lot of Clubs and players to the League. This initiative achieved its goals and we need to look again at what can be put in place to help transition youth teams into open-age football.
Looking ahead to next season we will continue to work with other leagues and all stakeholders in the game to help retain and develop clubs and their members. With the challenges the grassroots game continues to face we need to be progressive and adaptive to stay ahead. The quality of Clubs in the League will ensure another successful season.
A special thanks to our sponsors ProKit UK for their continued support and to Bishops Stortford for the use of the stadium and their generous hospitality at our Cup Finals.
We thank all our Club volunteers and our Management Committee for all their hard work and commitment this season and look forward to working with you all again in 2019/20.