The 2017/18 season has seen strong progress and achievement for the Essex Olympian Football League. There has been more success in external cup competitions for member clubs, a number of Clubs are moving up to the new Step 6 League and the change to the Whole Game System for Registrations will bring benefits to the hard pressed volunteer.
Cup success – Buckhurst Hill won the Essex Saturday Premier Cup beating Catholic United in the final. Chingford Athletic finished runners-up in the Essex Saturday Junior Cup and Corinthians Under 21s were winners of the Saturday Junior Trophy. FC Hamlets won the London Junior Cup and Catholic United won the prestigious Anagram Records Trophy. Well done to all Clubs involved in these competitions.
The new Step 6 League – Which will be known as the Eastern Senior League, has finally been formed following a good deal of discussion over the past few seasons. The EOFL has a seat on the Management Committee of the League and we look forward to working with our colleagues on the Thurlow Nunn. We wish all our Clubs moving up to Step 6 all the best for next season.
Moving player registrations to the Whole Game System was always going to be a challenge. Clubs and League Officers have worked hard to get the system up and running. The League will continue to look to use on-line systems to help reduce administration for the member clubs and the League. We look to the FA to develop systems to help all volunteers.
The League continues to offer financial support for Clubs with the fair play and administration award. This season we introduced the use of bibs to control the technical areas which were funded by the League together with free footballs. Next season we aim to get all our Clubs through the FA Charter Standard scheme by laying on First Aid courses with funding the League has acquired. The EOFL is committed to the support and development all the member clubs and we spend a lot of volunteer time doing just that.
The Under 21 Division is a great example of that hard work in Development. Three more Clubs are moving teams up into the main section of the League next season. This helps support the League and the member clubs.
We all know the havoc the weather caused for fixtures this season. The Fixtures Secretary worked very hard with, in most cases, Club support to complete the league programme.
On the pitch competition amongst the member club continues to be strong. Basildon Town won the traditional curtain raiser by lifting the Senior Challenge Cup. Senior Division 5 was won by Westhamians without losing a game with Academy Soccer finishing runners up. Senior Division 4 champions were Chingford Athletic with Old Southendian Res in second place. Manford Way Res won Senior Division 3 achieving back to back promotions. Shoebury Town were runners-up. May & Baker EC Res also gained back to back promotions by becoming Champions of Senior Division 2. Herongate Athletic taking second spot. Buckhurst Hill bounce back to the Premier Division at the first time of asking by finishing as champions of Division 1. Hutton edged out Great Baddow to finish runners-up in the last game of the season. Catholic United overcame a fixture backlog to move past eventual runners-up Frenford to take the Premier Division title.
Corinthians won the Under 21 Division title to add to their Cup success. A1 Sports were runners-up.
In the Cups, Buckhurst Hill won the Under 21 Denny King Cup against A1 Sports. The final continued the Under 21s reputation for good football. Old Southendian Res won the Reserve Cup overcoming May & Baker EC Res from two divisions higher. Frenford won the Senior Cup by beating Leigh Rambers 4-2 in the final having to come from two goals behind conceded in the first few minutes.
Congratulations to all the winners and teams gaining promotion this season.
The Leading goalscorer for the season was Luis Ruiz Junior with 59 goals from 21 appearances. Drew Klessa-Smith again netting well this season in the Under 21s with 55 goals from 25 appearances. For the sportsmanship awards Leytonstone United First team won the award for the best team with Basildon Town, the best Club.
In other awards the Club Linesman of the season is Ray Balcombe for Ongar Town, Richard Wilsher is the Referee of the season. Richard Shephard from Canning Town is clubman of the year and Clive Cheeseman takes the Patron’s award. Congratulations to all the award winners and thank you for your commitment to your Clubs and the League. On a sad note we lost a great servant to this League when John Pickering passed away recently.
This League has been very successful over many seasons. To continue that success we must work together. The feedback and ideas you give us are important in moving forward. We must embrace new initiatives and continue to challenge the accepted ways that football has been run.
For the past two seasons both the Mid Essex and Essex Olympian Football Leagues have been working closely together with the purpose of joining to bring benefits to all our member clubs and continue to develop football in Essex.
Nothing can be achieved by Clubs or Leagues without volunteers. We all know that recruiting and retaining volunteers is not an easy task. The game must respect volunteers and find new ways of attracting them.
On behalf of the Essex Olympian League I would like to thank the Match Officials, the member Clubs and the Management Committee for their continuing support and commitment to the Essex Olympian Football League.