With the new Essex Senior League season starting this weekend, what lies ahead is an exciting season. The changes from last season have come thick and fast; Walthamstow were promoted whilst Sporting Bengal United and St Margaretsbury were relegated after difficult seasons. Elsewhere, Hoddesdon and Cockfosters were transferred to the Spartan South Midlands League. In their place Barking and Romford joined the league from the Isthmian League North Division and Buckhurst Hill and Halstead Town were promoted from the Eastern Counties League. Here’s how the division will look next season!
Athletic Newham – 8th
Athletic Newham will go into their second Essex Senior League season, having been promoted from the Eastern Counties League Division One South back in 2021. Newham had found themselves second in both the curtailed seasons, but were awarded promotion to the ESL on points-per-game.
Their first season in the league saw them finish 8th. 18 wins in 40 games was enough was an top-half finish for the east London side, although throughout the season, they looked like they could have finished higher. This term, Newham will hope they will be towards the top-half once again.
Barking – 19th (Isthmian League North Division)
Barking returned to the Essex Senior for the first time since the 2016/17 season. After being re-established, following the folding of Barking & East Ham United in 2006, the club joined as members of the ESL. Following their trophy triumph in 2016/17, the Blues were promoted to the Isthmian League North Division.
Last season was one to forget for the Blues. Just 9 wins in their 38 games saw them finish second from bottom in the North Division, dooming them to relegation. Despite winning two more games than Witham Town, they found themselves a point behind, having had three points deducted. This season, Barking will hope to keep their stay in the ESL short as they look to bounce straight back up.
Buckhurst Hill – 2nd (Eastern Counties League Division One South)
Buckhurst Hill made a steady rise up the football pyramid. Having joined the Essex Olympian League in 2008, they soon found themselves in the Eastern Counties League Division One South (Step 6) is 2017, before reaching Step 5 for the first time in 2022.
Despite missing out on promotion, automatic and through the play-offs, Buckhurst achieved their promotion to the Essex Senior League regardless. An impressive season for the Stags last season saw them drop points in just three games (1 draw and 2 losses), but miss out on automatic promotion by 5 points. After beating Wivenhoe Town in the semi-finals, they were defeated by Halstead Town, but it didn’t matter as a space at Step 5 allowed them to go up. This term, Hill will hope to remain in the Essex Senior League and be as competitive as possible.
Clapton – 18th
Clapton prepare for their 17th season in the Essex Senior League. The Tons joined the ESL when they finished at the bottom of the Isthmian League Division Two North for a second consecutive season before it was disbanded. The disbandment meant they were moved in the Senior League and have remained their since.
Last season was a tough one for the Tons. After picking up just six wins in their 40 league games, the club were 18th in the league. Two more draws than St Margaretsbury saw the them avoid relegation by two points, but this season they will hope to be further from the thought of relegation and be more competitive.
Enfield – 5th
Enfield are another long-standing club in the Essex Senior League, getting ready for their 16th consecutive season in the ESL. The reformed club joined the league ahead of the 2007/08 season, after the original Enfield were forced to liquidate due to debts owed. Despite finishing as runners-up in their first two seasons and winning the league in 2011, the club remained an Senior League side.
A new-look Enfield had more ambitions last season, but could only manage a 5th-place finish. Despite winning over half of their games last season, and finishing on 73 points, the E’s missed out on promotion by at least 10 points. This season they will hope to be far better, looking to finally achieve promotion to the Isthmian League North Division.
FC Clacton – 7th
FC Clacton were moved across to the Essex Senior League last season and go into their second one, this term. Having bounced between the Eastern Counties League Premier Division and Division One, the clubs wish to be moved to the Essex league was granted ahead of the 2021/22 season.
Last season, the Seasiders achieved a top-half finish. A haul of 67 points from victories in half of their 40 games was enough to see them competing with the likes of Stansted and Enfield towards the top of the table. This season, they will hope for more of the same as they seek to remain competitive at Step 5.
Halstead Town – 4th (Eastern Counties League Division One South)
Halstead Town returned to Step 5 of the National League System for the first time since the 2006/07 season, following their relegation from the Eastern Counties Football League Premier Division. After bouncing between Division One and the Premier Division, they returned to Step 6 after finishing bottom of the Premier Division.
The Humbugs had an outstanding season last term, gaining promotion to the Essex Senior League. 23 wins in their 38 games saw them finish 4th and qualify for the play-offs. After requiring extra-time to beat 3rd-place Benfleet in the semi-finals, following a 1-1 draw, the Humbugs overcame Buckhurst Hill in the final to seal promotion. The club will hope they can be competitive in the Senior League and will hope to have an extended stay at Step 5.
Ilford – 16th
Ilford will go into their 10th consecutive season in the Essex Senior League, following their relegation from the Isthmian League Division One North at the end of the 2012/13 season. They had been voted out of the league briefly in June 2017 due to non-payments but were quickly readmitted following an appeal.
The Foxes found last season tough as they finished 16th. With Chairman Adam Peek as manager, the club found themselves competitive in a number of games, but no enough to find themselves higher up the table. A haul of 41 points kept them far enough away from the relegation zone, but far too low in the table. The new-look Foxes under the management of Richard Ponsford will look to be far more competitive next season, looking to achieve a top-half finish.
Little Oakley – 6th
Little Oakley will go into second season in the Essex Senior League. The club had only found themselves in the Essex & Suffolk Border League in 2017, before they earned promotion to the Eastern Counties League Division One South. From there, they found themselves 3rd and 5th respectively in the two curtailed seasons, earning them promotion in 2021 based on points-per-game.
The Acorns had an impressive debut season in the Essex Senior League, finishing 6th. 20 wins in 40 games put them within touching distance of Enfield and Stansted, giving them something to build on next season. This term, Oakley will hope to be competing at the top of the ESL once again.
Redbridge – 3rd
Redbridge have been an ever-present side in the Essex Senior League over the last nine years. The Motormen were playing in the Conference South as recently as the 2004/05 season, before being relegated to the Isthmian League Premier Division and a further relegation to the Isthmian League North a season later. A steady run at Step 4 was ended in 2015 when they found themselves in the ESL for the first time in 19 years.
Redbridge surprised a lot of people last season with their third place finish. 24 wins in their 40 league games meant they missed out on the opportunity of promotion, finishing two points behind Saffron Walden Town. This term, they will hope for a similarly good season, once again competing for promotion back to the Isthmian League North Division.
Romford – 20th (Isthmian League North Division)
Romford returned to the Essex Senior League for the first time since the 2008/09 season. The Boro were relegated to Step 5 for the 2002/03 season before winning the division in 2008/09 and returning to the Isthmian League, where they remained until last season.
The club had a disappointing 2021/22 season, finishing bottom of the Isthmian North Division. Just three wins in their 38 games meant they were rooted to the foot of the table, 20 points from potential safety and another season in at Step 4. This season they will hope to repeat tricks of the past and gain promotion back to the Isthmian League North Division.
Saffron Walden Town – 2nd
Saffron Walden Town will prepare for their fifth season in the Essex Senior League, having been transferred from the Eastern Counties League Premier Division at the end of the 2017/18 season. The club had a turbulent time, bouncing in and out of league football before having a settled spell from 2012 in the Counties League before their move to the Essex league.
The Bloods narrowly missed out on promotion to the Isthmian League North Division last season. After finishing second behind Walthamstow, and 9 points off the title, the club had to settle for a inter-step play-off. Walden lost the game, 3-0 to Witham Town, keeping them at Step 5 for a further season. This season they will hope to avoid another play-off game and will seek to following last seasons title rivals into Step 4 through automatic promotion.
Sawbridgeworth Town – 19th
Sawbridgeworth are one of, if not, the longest remaining Essex Senior League club, having joined the league in 1976. Sawbo had become founding members of the Essex Olympian League in 1966 before winning the division at the end of the 1971/72 season, and switching over to the ESL 4 years later.
The Robins’ 46th season at Step 5 was a narrow escape from relegation. After finding themselves fighting to remain in the division, the club managed to nick ahead of St Margaretsbury, who finished in the bottom two. This term, they will want to improve on their 7 wins from last season, extending their stay in the Senior League and building towards the top-half once again.
Southend Manor – 17th
The Manor are another side continuing their long stint in the Essex Senior League, having joined in 1988. Whilst preparing their senior status, in preparation for their debut in the division, they featured in the Reserve league before moving into the Step 5 league.
Southend Manor’s 38th season saw them escape the prospect of relegation towards the end of last season. The club looked doomed as they hung around the relegation zone, but a change in management, bring in James Wakeling, saw them rise to 17th and avoid relegation by 9 points. This season, Manor have high ambitions to be competing for promotion, and want to avoid another relegation scare.
Stansted – 4th
Stansted will prepare for their 52nd consecutive season in the Essex Senior League, having been a founding member of the league in 1971. Having been founded in 1902, the club have spent just under half their years of existence in the Senior division, winning it for the first time in 2010.
The Airportmen’s 51st season in the league ended with a fourth place finish. Stansted had found themselves competing for promotion, but a slip of results towards the end of the season meant they were pipped to the promotion spots by Walthamstow and Saffron Walden whilst also finishing behind Redbridge. Stansted will seek to be competing towards the top-half of the table once again, although the question of promotion is still up in the air with Hargrave Park ground-grading requirements.
Stanway Rovers – 12th
Stanway Rovers made a return to the Essex Senior League in 2021, having been transferred to the Eastern Counties Football League Premier Division. The club had spent a single season in the division after they were transferred at the end of the 2017/18 season, but returned back to the counties league for 3 seasons.
Their first season back in the ESL saw them finish a respectable mid-table. 16 wins in 40 league games saw them nestling with the likes of Takeley, White Ensign and West Essex at the centre of the table. They had kept themselves far enough away from relegation, but also found themselves nowhere near the teams bidding for promotion. This season they will hope to build upon their 12th place finish as they look to compete towards the top of the table.
Takeley – 10th
Having been founded in 1903, Takeley first joined the Essex Senior League in 2008. The 2022/23 season will be their 15th in the division.
Takeley finished 10th last term. 18 wins in their 40 games saw them finish on par with Cockfosters, although almost as many losses meant they couldn’t finish higher, which they had a achieved a few seasons prior. This season Takeley will be hoping to build upon their mid-table finish and seek a top-half finish.
West Essex – 13th
West have been in the Essex Senior League since the 2016/17 season, having successful applied to move across into the league. The club were promoted to the Premier Division of the Middlesex County League in their first season before winning the division in 2015/16, before moving across.
West Essex were around mid-table last season, finishing 13th in the Essex Senior League. 16 wins in their 40 games meant they comfortably remained in the division, however, 15 losses throughout the season halted their progress up the table. This term, they will hope to finish higher up the table.
White Ensign – 11th
White Ensign were promoted to the Essex Senior League in 2021, having had one of the best points-per-game across the two curtailed seasons. The club dominated in the Essex Olympian League, winning the Division One (later named Premier Division) on four separate occasions before they were moved into the Eastern Counties League Division One South. Ensign spent three years at Step 6 before they sealed promotion.
Their first season in the ESL ended with an mid-table finish. The club took to the league like a duck to water as they instantly found themselves competing at the top-half of the table before settling between Takeley and Stanway Rovers with 16 wins from 40 league games. This season they will hope to have a good start once again, but they will want to finish higher up the table.
Woodford Town – 14th
Woodford Town have been in the Essex Senior League since the 2007/08 season, after their merger with Mauritius Sports and Walthamstow Avenue & Pennant. The club didn’t achieve their best finish until the 2018/19 season when the club finished 6th.
The Woods were 14th last season. After a difficult start to their ESL season, they soon started to pick up results, winning 16 of their 40 games, but more losses than wins meant they weren’t able to finish in the top-half of the table. This term, the club will hope to achieve their best ever finish, seeking to be competing with those near the top rather than the bottom.