Category Archives: UTL Archive
The first three years of Under The League, from way back in October 2011.
Farnham Park FC have finalised plans to embark on their pre-season campaign to prepare for their forthcoming and debut season in the Division One of the Aldershot & District League. Read the rest of this entry
A press release from one of non-league’s newest clubs. Read the rest of this entry
After a two week break, yours truly returns to the podcast this week, and as ever there is plenty to discuss. There’s the Kingstonian goalkeeper Rob Tolfrey who jumped into the terraces to confront Bognor Regis Town fans after their match:
On a similar front, Torquay United defender Angus Macdonald has been fined and issued an apology after he engaged in a verbal spat with supporters during their 0-3 FA Trophy semi final second leg defeat against Wrexham.
Speaking of the Trophy, we give a lot of love to North Ferriby United, and try and even it out a bit by wishing Wrexham luck as they aim to celebrate their 150th anniversary by lifting non league’s most prestigious prize.
After all that, there is still time for me to usurp Ranty Robo (although he does get in on the act), when we cover the situation at Kidderminster Harriers.
There’s also the goalkeeper who has retired at the grand old age of twenty to become a car salesman, the Northern Premier League’s club of the month awards, and hattrick watch. And there’s an exciting announcement about next week’s show.
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Match reports from the two most recent Halesowen Town games, against Guiseley in the FA Cup, and Ilkeston in the Northern Premier League. Read the rest of this entry
The new season has started (except for some reason in the NPL), and that means a new season of Non League Podcast. There’s plenty to talk about too, and not one but two rants from Rob! #RantyRobo
On the show then this week:
- Vanarama put the Conference back into nonleague
- Save Grassroots e-petition
- Salisbury City debacle rages on
- 3G to be allowed in Conference – apparently
- #hattrickwatch (a bit bare this week. Come on lads start scoring!)
- And Finally (courtesy of @NonLeagueCrowd)
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Following on from my Conference Premier prediction, it is now time to turn the focus onto Step Two. Which clubs can take the titles in Conference North and South, and with it a place at non leage’s top table?
My tip for the Conference North title is Barrow AFC. Under manager Darren Edmondson, the club have made good progress, and the ex-Huddersfield Town and Carlisle United defender has assembled a strong looking squad for the new campaign. The most notable signing is probably that of striker Anthony Wilson, who scored twenty league goals for North Ferriby United as they finished second in their first ever season at Step Two.
Another potential star signed is James Ellison. The 22 year old striker came through the youth ranks at Liverpool, but has been somewhat nomadic since leaving Anfield in 2009. Barrow will be his eleventh club in those five years. It’s fair to say that he had struggled to make an impact at any of the previous ten clubs, until he arrived at Colwyn Bay, where he made more than fifty appearances in just over a season and scored fifteen goals. If he settles into life in the North East quickly, Edmondson may have unearthed a gem.
It’s not just in attack where Edmondson has strengthened though. Defender Danny Livesey has joined the club after spending the second half of last season with my Premier tip Wrexham on loan from Carlisle United. The 29 year old is something of a legend at Brunton Park, spending almost ten years at the club and making more than three hundred appearances. He also captained theside. His experience will be key for Barrow this season, and at a still relatively young age, is a fantastic signing.
Everything seems to be in place for The Bluebirds to have a real crack at the title next season, and the fact that they are currently the bookies’ favourites bears that out.
In the South, it was an easy pick for me. I’ve gone for Bromley FC. Just a look at the news section on their website shows how much they’ve been up to in the close season. Record season tickets and a whole host of quality signings mean Mark Goldberg’s side are rightly the clear favourites for promotion.
Goldberg seems to have strengthened every area of the squad, and every position on the pitch. In goal, ex-AFC Wimbledon favourite Seb Brown has joined. Brown, you may recall, was a hero in the Conference playoff final against Luton Town back in 2011, saving two penalties in the shootout to help The Dons into the Football League. He spent part of last season on loan at Woking, but has joined the revolution at ambitious Bromley following his release from AFC.
The defense has been added to, with Adam Bailey-Dennis rejoining the club for the new season. Bailey-Dennis spent the latter part of last season at Hayes Lane, and the former Colchester United, Braintree Town and Bury Town man obviously feels he is at the right club at the right time.
In midfield, Goldberg has really pulled off some great looking signings. Moses Ademola, Dean Sinclair, and Damian Scannell all add quality and experience, whilst upfront there have been some fantastic additions, mainly Sam Higgins from East Thurrock United, and ex-Tottenham Hotspur and Chelmsford City man Jamie Slabber from Sutton United. I’ve seen both players play live, and they should be cracking additions to the squad.
It may not have always been the most stable and harmonious club internally over the years, but things have really improved. Goldberg is now going into his fourth season in charge – in his third spell as manager. That sort of stability shouldn’t be ignored, and coupled with the new signings, things are looking good. If the manager can find a good blend, and keep everybody happy, I can honestly see Bromley FC running away with Conference South this season.
What do you think about my predictions for Step Two? Do you agree, or do you have your own tips for the titles? Get in touch on facebook or twitter (search undertheleague on either), or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively leave a comment on this post.
The new season is almost here! It’s been a summer of football, with the World Cup in Brazil filling the void until the real business of the nonleague season begins again. Most teams are now at least two weeks and one game into their preseason programme, and attention begins to focus on the second weekend in August, and that first league game.
Managers (hopefully) have assembled the bulk of their squads by now, with just one or two additions to be made, probably based on performances in friendlies. Chairmen are hoping that their managers have used their given budgets wisely, building a group of players that can meet – and even exceed – the clubs’ ambitions and aims for the coming campaign.
As for us fans, well this is the time of the year we get to dream. Dream about promotion, a cup run, or even surviving relegation if deep down we know that’s the end of the table we are most likely to find ourselves for the duration of the season. Whatever hopes and dreams we have, inevitably some will be met, some will be exceeded, and some will fall short.
Which brings me to my predictions for the season ahead. Those of you who listen to the Non League Podcast (episode 41 specifically) will be aware who I’ve tipped for glory. However, I thought I would put them in writing.
The Conference Premier is arguably the hardest division to get out of at any level of the game, and is a fascinating ecosystem. Clubs on their way up through the leagues come face to face with teams going very much in the opposite direction. It is always nigh on impossible to predict who will win the title, and with it the solitary automatic promotion place to the Football League. It is even harder to try and say who will finish in the playoffs or get relegated. So much can – and invariably does – happen on and off the pitch over the course of the season, that it ends up making a mockery of most “experts” predictions! Mine will probably be no different!
My choice for the winners of nonleague’s top flight are Wrexham. Like last season’s champions Luton Town, they have been in the division for a few years now, having fallen through the League Two trapdoor in 2008. Manager Kevin Wilkin succeeded Andy Morrell in March, and has set about assembling a squad he thinks will take the club up. They have strengthened their attack ahead of the new season, bringing in Louis Moult from Nuneaton Town and Connor Jennings from Scunthorpe United. Both are excellent strikers at this level, and if they can form a good partnership straight away, it could spell trouble for the rest of the division. Add ths to an already decent squad, and for me it’s the Welsh club who will be celebrating next April.
However, there will be plenty of competition for The Dragons. Barnet, Forest Green Rovers, Lincoln City, Grimsby Town, Braintree Town and Kidderminster Harriers among others will all have their own promotion ambitions (although internal wrangling sat Kiddie could destabilise the club). And then there are the two clubs relegated from League Two. Bristol Rovers and Torquay United have come down purely because of their results on the pitch, rather than points deductions and financial difficulties. However, it has been nearly a quarter of a century since a side won promotion the season after relegation from the Football League (thanks to @essexfootie for the research help). Darlington achieved the feat in 1990, two years after Lincoln City were the first club to do it (the season after being the first club to be relegated from the Football League. So the task is an historically difficult one for The Gas and The Seagulls.
So, as usual the Conference Premier looks like it will be a very strong division, and a very tough one to win. I’ve picked Wrexham as my winners, but have also named another eight who will be looking to prove me wrong. And there will always be a team who surprise everyone (like FC Halifax last season).
Am I way off? Who do you predict will take the title? And who do you think will struggle this season? Get in touch and let me know. You can tweet me (@undertheleague), or email (email@example.com) and Facebook (facebook.com/undertheleague). Or you can leave a comment on this article.
The first podcast ahead of the new season is now available to download. There is only one news story to cover, as we try and get our heads around the debacle at Salisbury City. I’m not sure we do a great job of it to be honest!
Elsewhere, it’s that time of year; predictions. Myself, Rob and Kristan predict (guess) who will win the titles from Steps 1-4. We shall revisit these ill advised psychic episodes at the end of the season to see who was least useless!
To download this episode or any of the previous forty, or to listen online, simply follow this link to the podcast website.
If you have your own predictions for any of nonleague’s divisions, get in touch and let us know. And if you like the show, please leave a review on iTunes, as it really does help bring the show to the attention of new ears. Or better yet, tell a friend or colleague about us.
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Preseason is well and truly upon us now, and this weekend I was able to take in two games on the same day. Heaven! Read the rest of this entry
This summer has been one of the messiest I can remember. Clubs folding, reprieves, relegations and transfers between divisions have all meant that the situation has got muddier and muddier, and the kerfuffle surrounding Salisbury City just adds to that.
Everything seemed to be going pretty well down at The Ray Mac. A good young manager in Mikey Harris, and a team that was arguably punching above its weight in the top flight of nonleague football. However, that has all now turned to dust as the club currently face up to an uncertain future. And for once, that uncertain future lies on the pitch. No manager, no players and a transfer embargo all put the very future of the club in jeopardy.
Following last season’s solid twelfth place finish, the supporters have had the rug pulled from under them, as they watch helpless while their club is embroiled in scandal before being demoted and then ultimately thrown out of the Conference structure. And it all boils down to one man; former owner Medy Outail Touzar. The Dubai based business man took over the club in May 2014 along with Mark Winter – one of the consortium that has now taken control of the club after successfully taking legal action to remove Mr Touzar from the board. The club allege that Touzar did not put a single penny into the club since taking over, leading to the legal challenge against him.
The club had come out of administration in December 2013 after five years of financial turmoil which culminated in a double demotion in 2010, but have been under a transfer embargo since April over failure to pay creditors. Reports say that players have not been paid for two months, leading to the Conference board taking action.
Their first demotion occured on June 13th, when The Whites were relegated to Conference South for failing to meet a deadline for clearing outstanding debts. This led to reprieves for Chester FC in the Premier, and Hayes & Yeading United in the South. And remember, Hayes & Yeading were already embroiled in controversy as they were already appealing for a reprieve due to the Worksop Town/Vauxhall Motors scenarios!
Then, on July 4th, it was announced that Salisbury City were to be thrown out of the Conference altogether for again missing a payment deadline. The Conference also announced that the South would carry on a club short, rather than go through the turmoil of reprieving clubs again. The club, though, were severely angered and distressed by the Conference announcement. And rightly so it might turn out.
On their official website, the club released a statement on July 4th, stating that the Conference had gone back on their original promises. The club claim that they were told that if they could pay off the debts (in excess of £91,000) and safeguard the future of the club, then they would be allowed to continue in the South. They had the money ready to transfer to the Conference account, but were told at around 3pm that day not to transfer the funds as they would be non-refundable. The announcement then followed that they were to be turfed out – to all intents and purposes – into no man’s land.
The problem for City now is: where do they play their football? With the decision taken not to reprieve a team in Conference South, that means there is nowhere for Salisbury to go. That to me seems ludicrous. Surely it would be better to try and accomodate them somewhere, even if it did mean a second double demotion in four years?
I do, however, understand that it would be extremely difficult to issue reprieves at this late stage in proceedings. The Conference fixtures are out, clubs up and down the pyramid have set budgets and started building squads accordingly, so to start rearranging now would be unhelpful in the extreme. Considering they turned down Lowestoft Town’s request to shift back to the North – where they were originally placed before everything kicked off – then reprieves were never going to happen.
That then, surely leaves only one solution: allow Salisbury City to take their place in Conference South, and thus returning the division to a full compliment of participants? I know that rules are rules, and that they are implemented to try and ensure clubs are run properly, but it does seem City have been treated harshly. They have already – justly – been demoted one division due to unpaid debts, but they are now under new ownership, and they had the monies ready to meet the Conference’s concerns, so why did the Conference then do such a spectacular u-turn?
Again, as is always the case in such situations, it’s the fans who suffer. Yes, the club have been run shoddily in the past and have endured years of ignominy and uncertainty, but it seems as though they are now on a firmer footing under new owners, and yet still there seems to be people not wishing to see the club move on. If the club are not reinstated into the Conference South, then the club could feasibly go out of business altogether. With no games – and therefore no income – for at least the next year, surely the troubled club can no longer operate. Even if they are reinstated, that doesn’t leave much time to assemble a squad and appoint a new manager. Veteran Football League striker and former Weymouth manager Steve Claridge has been sounded out regarding the managerial vacancy, but this would be a monumental challenge for the TV pundit to take on, with the new season just weeks away and no plans in place as yet.
The Conference have virtually condemned Salisbury to relegation anyway now, as even if they are reinstated, building a competitive squad at such short notice would be nigh on impossible, but it’s better that than the alternative for fans of The Whites.