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Local Football News

Bringing you the latest

 

This dedicated page updates daily to provide coverage on all things football in Gloucestershire, written by our Sports Journalist, Simon Parkinson.

 

Something big happening at your club that needs to be shouted about? Have an upcoming event that would benefit from more coverage? 

Then Contact Simon Parkinson via email - simon.parkinson@gloucestershirefa.com

 

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Goals Beyond Grass pledging Brickhampton footgolf event will go with a swing!

GOALS Beyond Grass, the UK’s leading powerchair football charity based in Cheltenham, is gearing up for what promises to be a fun-filled footgolf day!

The event takes place from 3pm on Saturday, July 6 at Brickhampton Golf Court, Churchdown, Gloucester, GL2 9QF, when all proceeds will go to the GBG outreach programme, which takes powerchair football to various groups excluded from mainstream sport.

The game is played similarly to golf, with the exception that players use a football instead of a golf ball and the ball is kicked rather than struck with a club.

A GBG spokesman enthused: “It is a lot of fun and it will be a great occasion, whether you are a footballer, golfer or don’t play sport at all.

“We would like to thank iPlus Marketing for sponsoring the day. Their support has taken a lot of cost away from occasion meaning more profit will go towards our service users.

Entry fee is £30 per person and includes a footgolf round, a drink and basket meal during the presentation. Awards will also be made to longest drive and nearest the pin competition winners.

Participants will go round in groups of four but teams can comprise smaller groups if people would prefer to enter individually or as a couple.

Hole sponsorship is available for £100 and for that backers will receive: full page advert in the programme; their company’s logo on the hole flag (provided by GBG); company promotion materials around the hole and in the reception area (the company sponsoring the hole will be responsible for providing the promotional material); logo added to the friends of GBG page and shared on the charity’s monthly newsletter.

For more information on hole sponsorship contact 07889 751516 or email brian@goalsbeyondgrass.co.uk

People wishing to sign up for the day should visit: www.goalsbeyondgrass.co.uk/footgolf

Garry so determined to drive gallant Almondsbury girls to 2019-20 promotion heights

ALMONDSBURY Women’s ambitious boss Garry Ford is targeting promotion next term, despite having two key positions to unexpectedly fill, writes Simon Parkinson.

His team completed their latest South West Women’s League Eastern Division campaign in a commendable fourth place, whilst their run to the semi-finals of the GFA Women’s Trophy was no mean feat either.

As attentions turn already to the 2019-20 mission, Ford finds himself searching for a new goalkeeper, while gifted midfielder Jamie-Leigh Worlock’s switch to the newly-formed Bristol Rovers Women has presented him with another big gap to plug.

Of the keeper conundrum, Ford explained: “Our regular goalie and captain Chloe Davis wants to play outfield next season so I need to find a replacement.

“Chloe is good with her feet when she comes out with the ball in training but quite where she’ll play I’m not yet sure. It will be a case of trying her in a few positions in pre-season.

“Jamie-Leigh has won her dream move to Bristol Rovers and I can understand them snapping her up as she’s a real workhorse midfielder and technically very skilful.

“Of course I don’t want to lose someone of that calibre but she goes with my blessing and we wish her all the luck in the world.

“She’s given great service, including when I coached her as a youngster at Stoke Lane. I hope she’s successful with them in the Gloucester County Women’s League but not at our expense!”

The enthusiastic Almonds leader stressed: “Losing Jamie-Leigh and having to replace Chloe will be challenging but I still want promotion and progression. That is the benchmark for our team.

“We began last season with only six players from the previous year because of retirements and other individual commitments. So for us to finish fourth was a fantastic return.

“We also did extremely well to reach the semi-finals of the county cup and give a team like Cheltenham Town Ladies such a tough game. We were 2-0 down and got it back to 2-2 before two of our players limped off and they ended up scoring two late goals to win it 4-2.

“Cheltenham had beaten a strong team in our league, AEK Boco, 9-0 in the previous round and our semi-final performance earned us some nice compliments from their players and supporters saying we’d played really well and matched them for long periods.

“We can take great pride from that and from the season as a whole.”

Ford emphasised of Almondsbury’s off-field undertakings: “We got firmly behind the Rainbow Laces campaign, which is designed to stand up to homophobia in sport and raise awareness and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender participants.

“So we performed with a rainbow-coloured ball in our county quarter-final at Cheltenham Town Ladies Development and wore coloured laces, just as they did of course.

To be part of it was fitting as our own group at Almondsbury certainly comprises individuals who have had mental and physical challenges to confront in their young lives so far.

“In our semi-final with Cheltenham’s first team we raised £159 for Beat, which is an eating disorder charity. Our own winger Sophie Mitchell successfully battled through anorexia and depression and has raised thousands of pounds for the cause. To see her so happy and positive now is wonderful.

“We sold cakes and programmes on the day while me and my daughter Amy, who plays for Brislington, did the Forest Warrior challenge in the Forest of Dean and raised £250 crawling through water, jumping over fire, climbing walls and confronting other hazardous obstacles!

“To drive home our message of acceptance and egalitarianism we often blast out Paloma Faith’s ‘Make Your Own Kind Of Music or the track from the Greatest Showman, This Is Me.”

Anyone wishing to be considered for the vacant goalkeeper position can contact Garry Ford on 07788 410588.

Meanwhile, Almondsbury Women’s recent awards night saw Rosie Harris voted manager’s and players’ player of the year, while Jessica Bessell and Sophie Cooper shared the top goalscorer prize.

Zoe Hales was named supporters’ player of the year and Emma Bosher was the happy recipient of the club woman of the year accolade.

Gloucestershire FA ‘getting it right’ as local game squares up to fresh challenges

(The third of a three-part feature on the challenges Forest of Dean club Viney St Swithins are faced with and how the game’s governing bodies are playing a key role in helping hard-pressed local administrators)

GLOUCESTERSHIRE FA is “getting it right” when it comes to vital administration aid on offer to hard-pressed club volunteers, writes Simon Parkinson.

That’s according to Viney St Swithins’ long-serving clubman Simon James, who says football authorities at local and national level have to keep abreast of the challenges the grassroots game is faced  with in a fast-evolving age.

He acknowledged: “The PayPal scheme the FA, including here in Gloucestershire, is introducing will make it a lot easier for club administrators, not least when it comes to the collection of player subs which can be a massive headache for those behind the scenes trying to keep on top of it all.

“I’m really glad the FA recognises that club secretaries and treasurers need help because without them you don’t have a football team.

“I feel strongly too that it’s about trying to persuade people there are benefits to be had by joining local clubs. We are looking at a scheme which provides club members and players with a suite of benefits. It could come in the shape of having money off a local car tyre place, for example, or reduced-cost meals at a local restaurant.

 “Players would then feel they are getting something from their subs rather than just coughing up for the privilege of playing. People still love their football but they have so many other alternatives now; that desire to play in all winds and weathers has been diluted.

“It’s about getting people more committed to their clubs and ingraining them in the whole body of the set-up.”

James reasoned: “When you get people involved, aligned and emotionally attached to their local clubs they will be that much more willing to do the horrible jobs around the ground. All too often these days it feels players are doing YOU a favour by playing the 90 minutes and shooting off home the moment the final whistle goes.

“But that isn’t the case right across the board. You need to identify those clubs which ARE getting it right; those which have a good clubhouse spirit and social scene such as Whitecroft.

“They successfully run three sides, including a first XI who finished up third in Northern Senior League Division Two and a reserve section which finished just above us in second place.

“Maybe a study needs to be undertaken in local football to find out where clubs are going right and how you can apply that across the spectrum.

“That is when you, as a club, can grasp it and build on it, because you know that you have something special to drive you on.”

The Viney stalwart stressed: “There are already good things happening when it comes to trying to tackle the significant challenges facing the local game. Gloucestershire FA, for example, has run some brilliant workshops in how better to run clubs.

“It’s great that there are all these five-a-side leagues and turn-up-and-play sessions. It does give people more choice and flexibility but it may also be a reason why 11-a-side participation is taking a dip.

“Facilities have an impact on people’s mindsets and whether they fancy being a part of things. The state of dressing rooms and the heavy pitches in winter can influence people’s desire or otherwise to be a part of their local club.

“Of course there’s no magic wand to put everything right and that is why the quality of the administration structure is vital.”

Local football landscape changing so fast, insists Viney St Swithins stalwart Simon

(Part two of a three-part feature on the helter-skelter fortunes of the Forest of Dean club and the considerable tests they and other grassroots competitors confront in the modern age)

VINEY St Swithins servant Simon James believes the “local football landscape is changing fast,” reports Simon Parkinson.

The 45-year-old Jack-of-all-trades with the Lydney-based outfit insists the grassroots game will soon resemble “nothing like” it did in bygone years when more enthusiastic volunteers were coming to the fore and football meant so much more to so many with fewer other activities and pastimes on offer to distract them.

He said: “We have always found a way to keep a team out there at Viney but it has seldom been straightforward and is never likely to be.

“Social media, for example, has become a great tool for letting people know about all the wonderful things there are out there that aren’t relevant to football.

“That’s all well and good but it’s a reason why the local football landscape is changing fast. I remember the days when it seemed people would work simply to fund their football first before worrying about mortgages and other aspects of their lives!

James, 45, said of some of the “challenges” he for one encounters: “I’ve been manager, treasurer, secretary, player and kit-man at Viney. Like so many others in the local game I’ve kept doing it, to the detriment sometimes of my family life and bank balance!

“No one, unless they are fully immersed in it, understands the amount of time and money that goes into keeping a local football club afloat, which includes basic and routine things like cutting the grass and marking out the lines.

“I announced recently I’d be retiring at the end of the season. I wanted the club to realise they would have to take it on from me as you can end up pretty much carrying out all the roles yet doing each one badly as a consequence. I’m also unable to play now because of a pelvic injury.

“I had been managing at the start of the season before Ian and Darren took over and after they’d left I went back in there to see out our final few games.

“But I still look after the pitch along with our chairman Paul Russell and my brother Mark who runs the line up there, having been a reserve team player with Viney at one time. He was the one who got me here in the first place when the club was in crisis 15 years or so back.”

James emphasised: “I want Viney St Swithins to get back to playing County League football but we are where we are and there’s always the big issue of getting committed and enthusiastic people, both on and off the field, in to drive on the project.

“The harsh truth is more people these days don’t give two hoots for their local club. Our own club is mourning the loss of Alec Thomas, a true legend at Viney and local football in general.

“At 83 he was still as committed to the cause as when he was playing. The question is, ‘Where is the next Alec Thomas coming from?’”

Viney St Swithins on new manager trail as they eye return to bigger local football stages

(Part one of a three-part feature on Viney’s future hopes – and the considerable tests they and other grassroots clubs confront in the modern age)

VINEY St Swithins are targeting a return to bigger and better stages over the next few years, irrespective of whether they clinch promotion this time around, writes Simon Parkinson.

For the second successive season the Forest of Dean club concluded their North Gloucestershire League campaign third on the Division One ladder following relegation from the top flight in 2017.

It was always going to be a long and tortuous road back to the heights of the Gloucestershire County League game they had relished until taking a mighty tumble that was to abruptly end their days as a non-League Step 7 force and put their entire operation in serious jeopardy.

“The club was only one day away from going out of existence altogether around the time I joined them in 2004-05,” Swithins administrator and former player Simon James said.

“It wasn’t an easy time at all, one compounded by our manager then Neil Walding, playing due to a lack of available players on the day, having a heart attack performing against DRG.

 “We had been paying our players and that proved ultimately to be our downfall. We were already relegated as I took on the manager job and it was a case of seeing the season out and fulfilling fixtures.

“We went into the Northern Senior League for several years before dropping down to the North Glos League (in 2015) and then the second tier where we’ve been for the past two seasons.”

James admitted: “It’s often been simply a case of keeping the whole thing running above anything else. These are extremely challenging times, for local football as a whole.

“We are in transition again at this time as we’re looking for new management to replace Ian James and Darren Brown after we parted company with them a few months back when we were top of the table.

“We’re after a new manager with the same ambition and values we as a club have, someone with commitment and enthusiasm to get us up to Northern Senior League football again.

“We have learned from our mistakes of paying players although we are prepared to support the management team with a remunerated package.

“This, however, will only apply to an exceptional candidate with the appropriate skills, qualifications and commitment to succeed in return we are expecting.

“We have been keeping everything crossed for promotion back to the Premier Division of our current league but we’ll not know the outcome of that until the AGM comes around.”

Take a look at Viney's Advert for a new manager

HERE

 

 

July conference is just the ticket to boost and support female football in Gloucestershire

FOOTBALL fever is gripping the female game right now and Gloucestershire FA is playing a key part in the drive to encourage and support those involved locally - on AND off the pitch.

Whilst the FIFA Women’s World Cup is taking centre stage, the county football association has been busy preparing for their Gloucestershire Female Game Conference on Sunday, July 14.

It is designed to not only raise the profile of women’s and girls’ football but to support the people who work and volunteer in it in the county.

The conference takes place at University of Gloucestershire’s Oxtalls Sports Arena, Plock Court, Tewkesbury Road, Gloucester (GL2 9DW) and runs between 9.30am and 4.15pm.

Gloucestershire FA (GFA) women and girls football development officer Alexis Lunn-Gadd explained: “The event is aimed at anyone involved, or looking to get involved, in the female game in Gloucestershire.

“The day will look to build networking opportunities and support the volunteer and paid workforce across a number of workshops aligned to the FA’s Game Plan for Growth.

“It has been set up to highlight all the fantastic work going on locally, as well as providing people with local and national updates, ongoing support and continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities.

“Attendees will have the chance to attend two out of four workshops delivered during the day by a plethora of individuals bringing with them both knowledge and experience for people to use and consider back in their  own environment.

“Participants on the day will also hear from Rachel Pavlou, the FA’s national women’s football development manager, who is our guest speaker.

“There will be a networking lunch and an opportunity to interact with our football partners around various areas of the game.”

The event is a collaborative one between Gloucestershire FA and University of Gloucestershire FA Women’s High Performance Centre.

Tickets to attend are priced at just £10.00 per person. Places are, however, limited, so people are urged to sign up early.

More information about the event can be obtained by emailing support@gloucestershirefa.com or by calling Alexis Lunn-Gadd on 01454 615888 (option 3).

Signing up can be undertaken by visiting https://eventspace.thefa.com/gloucestershirefa/participant/arrangement.aspx?id=273668

All your grassroots football admin in one place! 👇  Matchday App Final Giph

New reserve team boss required as ambitious Olveston United ring summer changes

OLVESTON United are ringing the summer changes – and that means an opportunity has arisen for a new manager to stamp his mark on their second-string section, writes Simon Parkinson.

The club’s reserve team completed their latest Bristol and District League Division Two campaign in sixth spot, three points and a place above their 2017-18 exploits.

Club spokesman Jake Lansdown explained: “Stu Evans and I were reserve team coaches last year and we have taken a step up to join Russ Knight and forge a three-man management set-up with the first team.

“It means we are looking for a passionate and enthusiastic manager to run our reserves, one who is willing to develop youngsters and is keen to join an ambitious group keen to win promotion and trophies.”

Lansdown, who is also the club’s junior chairman, recently told GFA Local Football News of 2017-18 Bristol Premier Combination top-flight champions Olveston’s yearning to gain a place in the Marcliff Gloucestershire County League; next season if at all possible.

“The changing rooms are all done and there’s a buzz back at the club again,” he said. “Last season (2017-18) we won the double and yet we weren’t in a position to go up facilities-wise, so there were a few long faces around the place at the time.

“But we’re getting the promotion criteria in place and everyone’s feeling positive again.

“We have two established adult teams and with so many youngsters coming through we’re looking at introducing a third XI for the start of the 2020-21 season.

“We are in the process of reintroducing an under-18 section to go with the existing under-16s, under-14s, under-12s and under-10s, whilst there’s interest now in creating an under-9 set-up too which is encouraging.

“And of course we’re always on the look-out for people generally to get involved in the day to day running of the club.”

New manager required as Made For Ever prepare for Combination promotion push

MADE For Ever are out to cement a place back in the Bristol Premier Combination – and they’re targeting a new manager to spearhead the drive, writes Simon Parkinson.

The Kingswood (south) club finished up fourth in the latest Bristol and District League Senior Division standings, a disappointment in part as they had been on course for a potential runners-up berth as promoted Nicholas Wanderers topped the tree by a country mile.

Made for Ever hope to follow Wanderers up to the higher level for the first time since 2013 when they last competed in the Combination competition as a struggling second-tier operator.

Secretary and former manager Craig Wiblin confirmed: “Our sole intention is to go back into that league.

“We had to call it a day as a Combination set-up after that 2012-13 season because we just didn’t have enough players. So we dropped our first team completely and ran with our reserves as our only senior side.

“They started off the next season struggling near the bottom of District Three but since then, whilst carrying the first team banner, they have enjoyed a couple of promotions to take us into the Senior Division where we are today and a competitive one at that.”

The Southey Playing Fields secretary admitted: “Things were looking good for at least a top-two finish until our player-manager Scott Robson stepped down with five games to go largely due to his business commitments. We also lost some players which didn’t help.

“It was a shame as we’d been going really well until then and just beaten (runners-up) Hillfields 6-5 to put us firmly in the mix.

“But to be fair Scott had done a good job over the past two seasons so we couldn’t have too many complaints.

“We started up a new reserve team last season and they began really well until petering out a bit to finish up third from bottom of District Five.

“Their position wasn’t helped by the fact we had to take some of their players to prop up our first team towards the end and their manager, Jason Morris, also came across to run the firsts in Scott’s absence.

“Jason has been a real clubman over a decade and more with us and he still turns out for both our sides as a left-back.

“But he has stated he doesn’t want the first team manager role as he prefers to concentrate on his second-string duties.

“So that leaves an opportunity for someone to take charge of our firsts and whoever comes in will have the full backing of the committee and will be given carte blanche to oversee the entire club picture.”

Wiblin enthused: “These are exciting times off the pitch as there is extensive refurbishment taking place to the changing rooms and clubhouse at our Southey Fields ground, which should all be up and running come the start of the new season.

“We’re not run by the council; we have our own groundsman and we’re financially sound.

“We know too that were we to be in a position to strike for Gloucestershire County League status we’d be allowed to install barriers around the pitch and put other facilities in place.

“Now we just need a new manager with ambition and fresh ideas to come in and push us on to where we want to be.”

Anyone interested in applying for the Made For Ever manager role can contact Craig Wiblin on 07394 441007 or email him at wiblincraig@gmail.com

Futsal feast a mouthwatering experience for Cheltenham Town Under-16s’ cup finalists

CHELTENHAM Town Ladies Youth Under-16 players and officials say they will not forget their big futsal adventure in a hurry, despite their last-ditch disappointment, writes Simon Parkinson.

The tenacious team safely negotiated a raft of group and knock-out phases to reach a mouthwatering FA Youth Futsal Cup final showdown with West Ham United at St George’s Park, the FA’s national football centre in Staffordshire.

The ultimate prize may have escaped them as Hammers’ big hitters overcame their gallant Gloucestershire opponents 5-0.

But there was clearly much to take from the experience, as goalkeeper Megan Gibson pointed out: “The team played incredibly well, despite the loss.

“It was a very tough game and the scoreline did not reflect our performance against a professional futsal team as we are more used to playing on 11-a-side pitches

“We are still extremely proud that we managed to get to the national futsal final and are now second in the country on the strength of it!

“We worked very well as a team to stop West Ham from scoring a lot more goals but we also created some good chances for ourselves.

“It is an experience that we will never forget and the support we had, from parents too, made the day even more memorable.”

Cheltenham had entered the showpiece occasion buoyed by an unexpected motivational video from one David Beckham, in which he said: “Hi, this is David Beckham. I just want to wish the girls at Cheltenham Town FC Under-16s good luck for the final.

“I know it’s going to be a hard game but we all have faith in you girls, so good luck and enjoy yourselves.”

Megan smiled: “When we first heard the message it was such a shock, that such a huge football icon would be willing to give us a motivational video.

“The entire team were thrilled and determined to do Cheltenham Town and David Beckham proud.”

The girls had progressed through the national semi-final group stage in Birmingham after overcoming an initial setback when losing to AFC Wimbledon 2-1 in the last few seconds. They also turned in strong performances to succeed against Hereford Lads Vixens (1-0) and Bootham (5-0).

Their run to the final took them past the South West Regional stage with 3-2 and 5-0 wins respectively over Brixington Blues (Devon) and Bodmin (Cornwall) in Paignton. Back in February they defeated local rivals Abbeymead (4-1) and Dursley (9-1) in the county qualification rounds.

This year’s tournament saw 3,624 teams enter across all age groups with 300 in the under-16 girls section.

Creek boss Lashenko so determined to bounce back from 2018-19 Manor Farm fall

BRISTOL Manor Farm manager Lee Lashenko weighed up a “massively disappointing” 2018-19 Evo-Stik Southern League One South season for his team and emphasised: “I can’t walk away after that,” writes Simon Parkinson.

The Creek side actually did show signs of creaking for long stretches of their latest campaign, a surprise given the rich array of talent that remained in the ranks and the years of previous progression that led to their 2016-17 Toolstation Premier Division title triumph and subsequent elevation to Step 4 football for the first time in their 59-year history.

Last year’s ninth-placed conclusion to their first season in the Southern League was no mean feat either.

Lashenko and Co had been looking to make that a springboard to a concerted promotion push this time around but instead a 15th-spot finish proved a frustrating outcome, one the ambitious Bristolian found “tough to take” by his own admission.

He confessed: “It was massively disappointing. The FA Cup run all the way to a third qualifying round replay was a highlight among not many highlights if truth be told.

“Our final day defeat (2-1) at home by a struggling Paulton side was terrible but our season as a whole was just not good enough.

“My next season began the very next day when I knew there could be some casualties on the playing front.

“I’ve always been successful and I’m not prepared to let one blip get me down.”

Indeed Lashenko, whilst still relatively new to management, guided Bishop Sutton to a memorable first-ever Western League Premier Division crown in 2012-13.

He said of his present preoccupation with “under-achieving” Manor Farm affairs: “My focus is very much on this club. I had plenty of bad luck in the recent season and that’s a motivation in itself.

“I also think about what my dad and nan did for me in my world of football. If there’s another motivation for me to do well it’s the passing and memory of two people who were massively influential to me. They make my football more relevant than ever.

“I certainly can’t walk away from the club after the season we’ve just had, even though I’m proud in the main of the six years I’ve had with Manor Farm.

“Players underperformed this time and I have to take some responsibility for that. It’s all about how you respond to setbacks and I’m quietly confident we can turn it around next year.

“Like any business, if it’s not producing what’s required then something has to give.”

Ikie declares it (almost) all systems go in Sea Mills’ bid for big County League prize

SEA Mills Park’s dedicated manager Ikie Greening believes his ambitious club is all but shipshape when it comes to their quest for Marcliff Gloucestershire County League status, writes Simon Parkinson.

Despite finishing a season that had promised so much somehow empty handed, the Millers at least ended an enthralling Bristol Premier Combination campaign on a high note with an exciting come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Longwell Green Sports Reserves in front of a large and enthusiastic Kingsweston Sports Ground crowd.

Trailing 1-0 at the break and legs weary from their previous Monday night exertions in a draining 2-1 GFA Senior Amateur South Cup final defeat by arch rivals Cribbs Reserves, Greening’s gallant team somehow found a way back in the knowledge runners-up spot in the top-flight table had all but slipped from their grasp.

Not so as centre-half Ross Terry, the club’s reserve team captain by trade, first equalised with a far-post diving header five minutes from time.

And a minute from the end it got even better as livewire 17-year-old left-sider Will Baldwin slotted his finish triumphantly into the bottom corner following a goalmouth scramble to clinch all three points and secure second spot behind champions Cribbs by a hair’s breadth.

A much happier Greening explained: “We’d had a disappointing few weeks and drawn far too many matches.

“We’d let Shaftesbury and Highridge back into it and we knew we had to win our last game to stay in front of Shaftesbury as they were beating AEK Boco at the time, which we were made aware of.

“I’m not quite sure now how we did it as the Monday night cup final defeat by Cribbs, and the way it came in stoppage time, really took it out of us.

“We had to bring the youngsters in against Longwell and three of our regulars, Dave Greaves, Tom Ahern and Jack Trott, who’d given their all in Monday’s game, all had to come off at various stages.

“There were great celebrations at the end and understandably so. Our lads were saying we’d only come second but it was second to a very good Cribbs side.

“It’s still been a great season, one that might have been even greater had player commitment levels been better over the second half of the season when we let ourselves down, drawing six of our seven games during that period.”

The long-serving 59-year-old Millers supremo enthused: “It all bodes well for next season. The plan is to have four brand-new changing rooms in one building up and running this summer and money is being spent on the pitch.

“Most of our facilities are in place for the next level up so we will certainly be applying to join the Gloucestershire County League once the changing rooms are done.

“Sea Mills had to come out of the County League 12 years ago due to financial difficulties but we’re looking stronger on that front, not least because of the sponsorship support we get as we simply couldn’t do what we do without it.

“We’ve still got Cribbs to contend with so my message to the County League would be that if they want to change the rules relating to reserve teams currently not being allowed entry, we’d be more than happy for them to take Cribbs!”

The Lawns aces had also snatched a very late winner to deny their fierce rivals in that GFA Senior Amateur showdown at Oaklands Park, although a supportive Greening emphasised: “The lads were all amazing, the way they played that night. To lose like we did in stoppage time was a real hammer blow when a draw and penalties would have been a fairer outcome.

“We’d gone into it with injuries and suspensions and perhaps a few people thought we’d be comprehensively turned over. But our lads gave everything they had.

“In fact we thought we’d equalised through Toby (Waterman) with the last kick, only for a flag to go up for offside. I was on the pitch jumping around in celebration at that point!

“We’re not ashamed to finish the season second to Cribbs. They’ve beaten us three times out of four league and cup fixtures.

“I was devastated for the players but very proud of them as they ran their hearts out.”

  • Stand by for Part 2 of Sea Mills Park’s enthralling 2018-19 story – and a key decision taken by manager Ikie Greening.
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It’s time Tytherington Rocks stepped out of the doldrums,” insists determined boss Tim

TIM Minihane insists Tytherington Rocks can enter what is shaping up to being a hectic and exciting close season full of hope after making a “noticeable improvement” over the latter stages of another tough Hellenic Division One West campaign, writes Simon Parkinson.

Perennial strugglers Tytherington, their two First Division title successes in three seasons all but a distant memory given the way their fortunes nosedived from the moment they secured the second of those crowns in 2014, finished up second from bottom to New College Swindon with only one win and not even a solitary draw to boost their points tally for the latest term.

Both relieved clubs have been assured by the FA that they will retain their places in the competition for the 2019-20 season and whilst he says he can understand “some people” insisting relegation should have instead been the verdict, Rocks boss Minihane believes the outcome is reward for a series of improved, albeit unsuccessful, late-season showings.

Whilst the concession of 24 goals in their final nine appearances may be modest by some standards, Minihane stressed: “Ten of those goals came in two games and only in losing 5-1 at Newent Town in that spell did the lads let themselves down.

“All the rest of the games were tight, so we proved over the final few weeks we can match teams. It’s just about having that right mentality to do it over 90 minutes.

“I’m grateful to the efforts and commitment levels shown by young lads like Bailey Croome, Kieran Powell, Nathan Croot, Fraser Moss, Zac Berriman and Lewis Toop.

“The idea now is to build the club up by improving our reserves, establishing better links with our under-18s and building up our new women’s team this summer, as well as bringing in vital sponsorship and advertising revenue as it’s high time we stepped out of the doldrums.

“The average age of our squad for our final game against Clanfield was 21, and that was with three players in their 30s.

“For me, these young lads can only get better.”

  • Coming soon. Keep a check here of an impressive recruitment campaign already underway at Tytherington Rocks.

 Oldland stalwart Jones backing Woodman and Cains to become a Castle Road hit

OLDLAND Abbotonians stalwart Derek Jones is optimistic the only way is up now he has a new management team in place for the club’s first team, writes Simon Parkinson.

Hopes of building on an encouraging fourth-placed finish to their 2015-16 Toolstation Western League First Division mission have failed to materialise over ensuing years, with a string of optimistic but ultimately unsuccessful managers unable to carry them to a coveted place in the league’s top tier.

The latest 2018-19 campaign marked a low point as Oldland escaped a bottom-two finish by a solitary point with relegation an uncomfortable prospect for the first time since 2014 when they survived by the skin of their teeth, despite winding up one off the foot of the ladder that year.

Jones, who has been a stoic and loyal servant of the Castle Road enterprise over some four decades as player, administrator, president and now chairman, even had to step into the breach with former first team boss Dale Dempsey to help navigate the club’s faltering reserves through choppy waters for several months of their 2018-19 Bristol Premier Combination Division One affairs.

Whilst they have been staring at the prospect of the drop to Bristol and District League activity next term, Abbotonians’ flagship first team HAVE lived to fight another day and will do so now under the leadership of Clayton Woodman and his assistant Steve Cains, who last season managed AEK Boco’s first and second-string teams respectively through the Hanham outfit’s own challenging times.

Jones acknowledged: “They’re already hard at it on the recruitment front and talking to members of our current squad.

“It’s disappointing that our reserves are going down to the District League but of course we’re looking for them to bounce back quickly.

“I’m delighted Clayton and Steve have agreed to join us as first team manager and No.2 respectively. Both have been associated with Oldland in the past as players and youth team coaches, and Steve worked alongside Stuart Nethercott some years back.

“We were fortunate to have so many applications for the job but key to us was getting back to basics, with local people having the club at heart.

“Previous managers often brought in players from many miles away who didn’t have that affinity with Oldland, and that broke with tradition as players had always played for the shirt.

“I feel Clayton and Steve are the boys to bring back that old-time spirit. Clayton is a do-er who knows a lot of people keen to perform at a higher level. And it’s very pleasing that our physio Pat Delaney is staying on. He’s been brilliant, as a real clubman too.”

Jones stressed: “Our next important appointment will be that of reserve team manager. We operated half of last season without one so myself and Dale took over.

“Now we need someone to get fully involved on a permanent basis and for the club to attract and keep players who are willing to be involved with ALL of our three senior teams, which includes our District Five Colts side.”

Asked about Oldland’s yearning for Toolstation Premier Division status, Jones responded: “We very much want that and as we know, it’s rare for good things in football to happen overnight!

“Sometimes teams fly through the system like Chipping Sodbury did but the Western League is a tough league.

“Am I frustrated that we’re not there in the Prem yet? Not too much because setbacks happen in football and I wouldn’t still be doing it if disappointments got to me. You have to have a goal, otherwise why be in football in the first place?

“You only get out of football what you put in and at least we as a club have everything in place facilities-wise for the next step up.”

Oldland media officer Paul Bray added: “After an awful two years we are really hoping this will take us back to where we should be and everyone is really excited about it.

“They plan to rejuvenate the struggling reserve team with lots of new faces and work with last year’s Colts to try and progress them further up the chain in the wider club.

“Last season’s two under-16 teams are being brought into the senior fold and the future is now finally looking very bright for Oldland again.”

  • Stand by for a reaction from Steve Cains to his and Clayton Woodman’s call to Oldland manager duties, here on GFA Local Football News.

Almondsbury elation as FA transfers Bailey’s boys back to Toolstation League

ALMONDSBURY player-manager Neil Bailey says his club are “buzzing again” after learning they have been switched back to the Toolstation Western League, writes Simon Parkinson.

The Almonds were dismayed to be told that their unbroken 14-year association with the Step 6 league’s second tier was to abruptly end last summer as the Football Association decreed they would instead operate in the equivalent Hellenic Division One West for the 2018-19 campaign.

Given little choice other than to bite the bullet and proceed in an entirely unknown competition, Almondsbury experienced a helter-skelter time of it travelling to unfamiliar destinations for away games, many of them in Oxfordshire.

They did have local rivals Tytherington Rocks and newly-promoted Thornbury Town providing them with welcome derby duels, while Toolstation League big boys Bitton were twice formidable opponents for FA Vase and GFA Challenge Trophy encounters.

Field officials nonetheless continued to make no secret of the fact a swift Western League return topped their priority list and to their relief and delight their request has been granted and their team will once more take to the Toolstation stage.

Bailey enthused: “I’m thrilled, as is the whole club. It’s where we believe we should be and everyone involved with Almondsbury feels it’s the right decision and is looking forward to next season on the strength of it.

“At the time we were transferred to the Hellenic League it was not a nice feeling. We know there’s lateral movement involving clubs at our level every year and that there’s always the possibility these things will happen.

“For us the switch impacted a lot on travelling costs and we were asking players to commit more. Thankfully the lads did stick together but when you’ve been established as a Western League club since 2004 it’s not an easy one to take.

“The year before that, in my first season as manager, we’d finished mid-table in Toolstation One and we’d already done much planning for the new season.

“The problem is that players you have spoken to expecting to join you as a Western League operation don’t necessarily want to be playing Hellenic football, which naturally throws a spanner in the works.

“And although they never actually came out and said it, we found too that some of our sponsorship fell away and that’s no disrespect to the Hellenic League; it’s just that our sponsors had backed us expecting us to be a Bristol club still very much part of the Toolstation League.

“The fact is our chairman Mike Blessing, an ex Toolstation League director, submitted an appeal to the FA earlier this year stressing our desire to move back there because of these extra demands on us as a club.”

Almondsbury defender Bailey, 33, who guided his team to a seventh spot conclusion to their brief stint in Hellenic One West, continued: “I’ve certainly got a spring in my step and I’m already planning enthusiastically for the new season, as is everyone at the club.

“Our friendlies will be against Toolstation Prem and County League teams and we can start contacting players to say we’re now in the Western League again.

“It feels like we’re back where we belong and maybe the FA looked at it and thought transferring us back was the right thing to do.

“I have been with the club since 2003 and whilst I love it here, I also feel we have to be setting expectations high and try and progress now we have this opportunity.”

Yate date with Bristol Rovers marks big new adventure for Britton’s Bluebells battlers

YATE Town’s mouthwatering pre-season friendly at home with Bristol Rovers signifies the start of an adventure boss Paul Britton and his club-mates “can’t wait” to get stuck into,” writes Simon Parkinson.

The Bluebells cemented a place back in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division for the first time since dropping down to the second tier in 2009 thanks to a 3-1 victory over Gloucestershire rivals Cinderford Town in the recent Division One South play-off final nail-biter at Lodge Road.

Preparations for a renewed crack at Step 3 football on the non-League circuit have already begun in earnest, with that familiar pre-season date with League One Rovers pencilled in for Saturday, July 6 at 1pm.

Britton smiled: “We’ve built something good at the club, on and off the pitch, and it’s a much better and happier place to be.

“We’re taking a hard look at what we need because we want to have a proper go at the higher level: some players may not want to commit to it while others will have a burning desire to give it a good crack.

“It’s strange looking back because I experienced such a shocking start to my tenure at Yate three seasons ago. It was a real baptism of fire and last season wasn’t much cop either to begin with before we embarked on a great run and all enjoyed the progression taking place. We even put ourselves in with a chance of the play-offs.

“This last season was different as we made a great start and of course continued in that vein until the very last successful day.”

Britton, 54, emphasised: “All along I was given great backing by the club although I’m not quite sure what myself, John (assistant Lester) and the rest of the management team did to deserve that support given the dodgy openings we made to those first two seasons!

“I once got the sack at Longwell Green along with my assistant then Gary Brown so we’ve certainly seen the dark days.

“From our perspective maybe pride and ego kicked in. We always felt we could do a good job and be successful and John and I wanted to prove ourselves at the next level up, although even when I applied for the Yate position (in spring 2016) I really didn’t think I’d get it after leaving Bitton in January that year.

“Had you conducted a survey involving managers in the Southern League I don’t think we’d have been chosen by anyone!”

The exuberant Bluebells boss glowed: “I’m excited and buzzing for it. I have already spoken with players I want to get in and as I say, I know some lads may find it too big a leap.

“I know it won’t be a stroll in the park and there will be some tough times ahead to negotiate.

“I look at the likes of Danny Greaves at Frome Town, who previously played and managed in lower leagues, and John Rendell at Paulton Rovers, who was in charge of Old Sodbury in the Bristol Premier Combination before going there. It’s not as though we’ve all been plucked out of thin air and just made it here. It’s a steady evolvement.

“I’m really looking forward to taking on Weston-super-Mare who are a big club in our area. The seaside trips to the likes of Weston, Poole and Truro will be something to savour.

“One thing that has helped us at Yate is the quality of our pitch. That’s down to the hard work and devotion of Roger Hawkins and his gang of merry men who have supported the club for years and all as volunteers.

“We must have had the only green pitch in non-League football at the start of last season after the dry summer we’d had, but on a general note I’d like also to thank my management team including John Lester, Martin Cutler, Nigel Hawkins and Molly Dursley.”

Meanwhile, at the recent annual presentations, Elliot Keightley was named manager’s player of the season; Nick Peare was the players’ choice and Joe Guest the supporters’ choice.

‘Sky’s the limit’ as founder George Philipou backs Lebeq to maintain impressive rise

LEBEQ’S founder member George Philipou says he can’t wait to watch his beloved club pit themselves against Step 6 opposition for the first time in their history, writes Simon Parkinson.

Their first team – Lebeq United – recently celebrated a maiden Marcliff Gloucestershire County League championship success and are now waiting to learn whether they will gain admission to the Toolstation Western League or equivalent Hellenic League Division One West competition.

Philipou, who formed Lebeq as a famous and successful Sunday set-up in the early 1980s with Owen Smith before the club introduced Saturday football to the operation in more recent years, enthused: “Finishing as runners-up to Thornbury Town last season when we’d been in the ascendancy at times was a big disappointment, so this has really made up for it.

“It’s definitely been won on merit. It’s been a great effort and they’ve been consistent throughout and played their best football to date.

“Rayan (Wilson) and his management team were so hard-working and focused, even though they have businesses outside Lebeq FC which take up a lot of time. But they really were committed.

“I’m looking forward now, along with everyone else at the club, to seeing Lebeq playing at a higher level. I’m sure they can keep the bulk of this squad and attract a few new faces too.

“A lot of our players have already performed in the Toolstation League and even higher. So while it’s a step up for the club, for many of the players it won’t be an entirely new experience.

“But they’ll all be looking forward to playing at those heights together with their mother club, I’m sure.”

Philipou, 61, insisted intriguingly: “Had we started out in Saturday football 15 years sooner than we did, I reckon we’d be performing in even higher leagues than the one we’ll be going into now.

“I always thought we’d get there, but had we had the foresight ten, 15, maybe even 20 years ago, all this and more might have been achieved so much sooner as we had good players then capable of the leap in standards.

“The future’s looking good, though, and we still have a Sunday team under the Lebeq umbrella run by the former Bristol Rovers striker Carl Saunders.

“And we have a competitive Saturday reserve team playing in the Bristol Premier Combination’s top division.

“Lebeq are one of the most ambitious local clubs around and they can go as high as possible: the sky’s the limit.

“It’s good to see as I was there from the start 38 years ago with Owen and I’ll stay involved as a supporter and probably continue to take the minutes at club meetings.”

Clinical Curtis fires a four-timer to end Stoke Lane Athletic campaign with ten-goal win

RICHARD Curtis and his Stoke Lane Athletic triers could hardly have ended their Bristol and District Division Four campaign in more convincing fashion, writes Simon Parkinson.

The clinical Curtis notched four of the goals that swept them past seventh-placed Crosscourt United 10-0 on a one-sided final day at Scott Park, where Tom Edwards weighed in with a brace and Dane Cook, Josh Millward, Tehsin Hassan and Ben Summerfield completed the rout.

Sadly for the Stoke Lane slickers it wasn’t quite enough to nudge Bradley Stoke Town A out of second spot, a mere point ultimately separating the sides as Lane had to content themselves with a third-place finish.

Things had been looking promising too for them until back-to-back 4-1 and 3-1 defeats at the hands of Fry Club B and Bradley Stoke set them a late-season challenge they were unable to overcome.

Stapleton Reserves had experienced their difficulties in recent weeks in Division One but they were at least able to celebrate a final-afternoon success courtesy of a 2-0 away victory over second-bottom Rangeworthy.

Sam Sheppard and Joe Flay scored the goals as their team wrapped up a somewhat helter-skelter campaign in a perfectly safe seventh spot.

Hanham Athletic Reserves completed their own  First Division programme happily enough as they beat fourth-placed Henbury Reserves 4-2 at a delighted Vicarage Road where Charlie Bateman’s sizzling strike was hailed a “goal of the season contender” by his comrades.

Hanham, managed by Luke Simmons and Jack Dean, had been in excellent form in the weeks leading up to their final appearance to wind up in sixth place, a big improvement on their successive second-bottom conclusions for the previous two seasons.

There was delight in Division Two for Highridge United Reserves, as their 2-1 win at Hartcliffe ensured them the championship at Chew Valley Leisure Centre.

They commented: “It’s been a very successful season for the club as a whole, from the first team fighting relegation last year and very nearly going down to finishing fourth in the Bristol Premier Combination this time.

“Now we’ve seen the reserves winning Bristol and District Division Two and the third team winning promotion from Division Five.

“Unfortunately a special man associated with the club couldn’t be here to witness this tremendous season but it was all done in the name of Roy Vincent.

“We just wish this great man was here to enjoy it with us.”

Hartcliffe, meanwhile, whose Gary Bennett notched, ended their programme in a much-improved fourth place after stringing a fine eight-match unbeaten run ahead of the Highridge reverse.

Hanham Athletic A, led by Steve Moore and Steve Collins, wrapped up an encouraging debut season third on the Division Five ladder with a win, as Adam Grinter, Liam Robson and Luke Simmons goals saw them to a 3-1 home victory over fourth-spot Oldland Abbotonians Colts.

Now ambitious Shaftesbury Crusade target manager to lead brand-new third team

SHAFTESBURY Crusade clearly mean business as they strive for bigger and better things next season and beyond, writes Simon Parkinson.

The Bristol-based club won the Bristol Premier Combination Division One title in 2016-17 two seasons after their relegation frustration from the league’s top-flight.

Over the two campaigns since, Shaftesbury have finished fourth and, most recently, third back in the Prem, as though to underline an ongoing progression which they hope will transport them all the way into the Marcliff Gloucestershire County League at some stage in the near future.

Whilst that remains a prime objective, Crusade chiefs are now gearing up for the addition of a third string for the 2019-20 programme and have already begun the search for a manager to oversee its formation and running.

Committee member and reserve manager Kevin Mills, whose own side recently wound up a laudable fourth in Bristol and District League Division Four, explained: “We are looking to add a third team for the new season with a view to competing in the District League.

“That means there’s a role for a new manager and we’re in a position to offer any successful candidate the opportunity to work at the fantastic new facility at Lockleaze Sports Centre at Bonnington Walk in Bristol.

“We welcome all applicants for that and any existing under-18 teams now making the step up to adult football.

“Our club has seen great improvement over the past year, with ours firsts and reserves finishing third and fourth respectively in the Bristol Premier Combination and Bristol and District leagues.”

Mills confirmed that Shaftesbury were eager to stake a claim for non-League Step 7 status once a particular hurdle had been successfully overcome.

He told GFA Local Football News: “The issue we have at the moment is that our Gloucestershire County League application has been rejected. That’s because there currently are not two viewing areas from which to watch games.

“Our aspirations are to get promoted into the County League in the future, so bringing a third team to our new facilities can only help with negotiations to get that second viewing area built.”

Anyone wishing to get in touch with Shaftesbury Crusade about the new third team and its management vacancy can email: davidchinnick@hotmail.com or direct message them on the club’s Facebook page.

Grit and determination against the odds saw us home, say Cirencester Town Ladies

In the second of our two-part feature, Cirencester Town Ladies co-boss Karen Messenger praises a determined club effort in seeing them to their terrific GFA Women’s Challenge Cup triumph . . .

CIRENCESTER Town Ladies co-boss Karen Messenger says sheer willpower played a key part in her team’s exciting GFA Women’s Challenge Cup final feat.

The team she runs in tandem with Callum Higginson came from 2-0 down against Gloucestershire County Women’s League rivals and champions Cheltenham Town Girls Under-18s at half-time to draw level at 2-2 courtesy of two brilliant Emily Wilson strikes before seeing off Cheltenham Town Under-18 Girls 4-3 in penalty shoot-out circumstances.

Messenger had herself been unexpectedly pressed into Oaklands Park action between the posts late on in the first half after keeper Alex Hobbs had sustained a nasty head injury soon after producing an outstanding save.

She said: “Alex was so brave and didn’t want to come off. But she was concussed and the physio ruled her out at half-time. She couldn’t go back on and it was a great shame for her not to be on the pitch for the whole game. So our half-time team talk was, ‘let’s do this for Alex.’ 

“Poppy Romback, our captain for the evening, did a great job keeping the players focused and calm when it got a bit feisty and she went in goal instead of me for the penalty shoot-out.

“I just thought that being younger she would have more chance to get down and pull off some saves and emerge as a hero.

“Emily Wilson scored two fantastic goals in that second half but it was hard when Tam Davies went off as she and Libby had been our main pair in central midfield all season.

“To finish the game without either of them shows how well the other girls did; how well they stepped up on the night. Everyone played their part in the success; those not there at the final and those injured before and on the night.” 

Messenger enthused: “The occasion had a right buzz about it as our spectators came out in force with ‘Ciren’ spelt out on their t-shirts and a banner and blowers on show.

“The girls really got themselves up for the occasion, helped by Callum as organiser; so a big thank-you went to the supporters too.

“I think Callum was as excited as the girls at winning and unfortunately he ended up with broken glasses in the team celebrations! But he did a good job rallying them on from the side.

“The cup final win has shown how well the girls did stepping up to ladies football, not to mention the fact it came against local rivals who we had never beaten.

“We had excellent coverage from our own club who showed great support. We wore the men’s first team away shirts they kindly leant us as both our home and away shirts clashed with Cheltenham’s, so it was a case of lucky yellow.

“This season we have also been lucky enough to play all our home games bar one on our main Corinium Stadium 3G pitch, which helped us when it came to playing the final on a similar surface.”

Cirencester Town Ladies co-manager Karen so happy with success on big club return

In the first of a special two-part feature, Cirencester Town co-manager Karen Messenger tells GFA Local Football News of her unexpected cup final comeback . . .

CIRENCESTER Town Ladies’ happy co-manager Karen Messenger says she could hardly have asked for more from her team over the latest campaign.

The Corinium Stadium side finished fourth in their first season back as a Gloucestershire County Women’s League Division Two operation and capped that commendable accomplishment by lifting the GFA Women’s Challenge Cup thanks to a nailbiting 4-3 penalty shoot-out success over Cheltenham Town Under-18 Girls in the final at Oaklands Park following a 2-2 regular-time draw.

Messenger, who takes the team in conjunction with Callum Higginson, glowed: “I am very fond of all the girls. Six of them went to school together and it was a great privilege to share a cup final with them all.

“In fact that was my own fifth cup final occasion, the first of which we won when I was only 18 and then the next three times I ended up on the losing side!

“Now, 27 years later, I’ve been back on a winning side. I really didn’t think I would have that chance again so it was a very special night for me.

“I don’t think the girls will realise at present, given they’re only 16 and 17 years old in the main, they will remember that night for years to come and that it will be a great memory for them.

“Football is great; I have a big bunch of special friends who I used to play with when I was 18 that I still go out with now, even though it’s only me still involved in football amongst them. So I have a lot to thank football for and we still talk about our cup final win all those years ago when we go out.”

Messenger continued: “On a personal note Libby, our captain, is also my daughter who captained the side through the youth set-up.

“It was a real shame for her to miss a great county cup final occasion but she did watch the penalty shoot-out out on FaceTime from Lanzarote!

“I had only named myself on the bench as a back-up and didn’t intend on playing. But it was all about the girls and their development.

“I told Libby I would keep her updated but obviously I only kept her up-to-date until the first goal because I then had to play (in goal due to an injury sustained by Alex Hobbs).

“But she messaged one of the other parents who kept her filled in and she then sent me a lovely message to say how pleased she was that I got to play in the cup final instead of her!

“So I felt I had done my part for her and she was so pleased for the team. And I said to her she could still join in the end-of-season celebrations with our men’s team! 

           

Lethal Leigh at the double as St Aldhems slickers retain Hillard Bosley Cup trophy

MARK Leigh was at the double as super St Aldhelms retained the Hillard Bosley Cup and made it a tenth competition win in their long history to cap off a tremendous achievement.

The lethal Leigh struck with his second goal of the game in the 85th minute courtesy of a fine 20-yard free-kick at Mangotsfield United’s Cossham Street ground in a competitive contest well refereed by Michael Pope, to see his side to a 2-1 win over Bristol and Suburban League top-flight rivals and champions Bromley Heath United.

The Saints had started the stronger and took the lead with a quick attack leading up to Leigh being put through on goal to slide the ball confidently past Ryan Hall in the Bromley goal.

In an even first half of few chances Bromley Heath, who had clinched the Premier One crown only by a four-goal difference in a tension-filled race to the line with unfortunate runners-up Avonmouth, equalised when a shot from the right was well saved by Ricky Bush, only for the rebound to fall kindly into the path of Sam Edwards who jubilantly slotted the ball into the net to make it 1-1 at the interval.

With the final on a knife edge, the second half continued in the same vein with few chances at either end and both defences standing firm on a hard and bumpy pitch which did nothing to help the flow of the game.

However there was to be a dramatic winning goal five minutes from time which stemmed initially from a St Aldhelms player sustaining an injury as he broke through the middle.

A long delay ensued whilst he received treatment before Leigh, who’d had plenty of time to weigh up his options during the stoppage, fired a low free-kick beneath the leaping Bromley Heath wall into the left corner of the net to restore his ecstatic team’s lead.

The league champions, as you might expect, forced the pace after that, including over the eight nailbiting minutes added on. But try as they might they were unable to find an equaliser.

It was left to Bristol and Suburban League chairman Roger Tovey to present the trophy, sponsored by Doug Hillard Sports, to delighted Saints joint captains Dan Lock and Miles Hudd.

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