The Eastern Counties League Division One South offers another exciting prospect ahead of the new season. With the first real promotions and relegations since the 2018/19 season, the league waves goodbye to some teams whilst also welcoming a range of exciting teams. Ipswich Wanderers achieved promotion to the Premier Division whilst both play-off finalists (Buckhurst Hill and Halstead Town) were also awarded promotion. Elsewhere AFC Sudbury Reserves, Harwich & Parkeston and Holland FC were moved across to the North Division while both Conard United and Haverhill Borough were reprieved from relegation and also moved across with the trio. Brimsdown were relegated to the Essex Alliance League Senior Division.

In their place, the promoted clubs to the South Division included Basildon Town, Cannons Wood, NW London, and Stanway Pegasus whilst Sporting Bengal United, St Margaretsbury and Tower Hamlets were relegated down to Step 6. Elsewhere, Enfield Borough were moved across from the Combine Counties League adding to the numbers.

Barkingside – 11th

Barkingside will go into their fourth Division One South season, following their relegation from the Essex Senior League at the end of the 2018/19 season. The former Isthmian League North side were relegated from the Step 4 league at the end of the 15/16 season before three seasons in the ESL ended in 2019.

‘Side found themselves mid-table last season. More losses than their 15 wins halted their progress up the table, although, they had a comfortable enough season to keep them in the division. They will hope they can build upon that mid-table finish, aiming for a top-half finish next season.

Basildon Town – 2nd (Essex Olympian League Premier Division)

Basildon Town made history as they were promoted to Step 6 for the first time in their existence. Having been founding members of the Essex Olympian League in 1966 and spent the majority of their time in the league, the club were promoted to the Eastern Counties League in 2022.

Basildon had an outstanding season last term, missing out on the title by a -14 goal-difference behind Ongar Town. 21 wins, 3 draws and 4 losses saw both clubs finish the season on 66 points, with Ongar nicking the title on goal-difference. The club were still promoted for their efforts and will hope they can have a good debut season at Step 6.

Benfleet – 3rd

Benfleet will prepare for their fifth season at Step 6, having been promoted at the end of the 2017/18 season. After re-entering the Essex Olympian League Division Three in 2015, the club secured promotion to Division Two before applying to move into the Counties League (a three league jump) a couple of seasons later.

The 2021/22 season was a good season for Benfleet, but they couldn’t fully capitalise on their run. 23 wins in their 38 games saw the club finish third and qualify for the play-offs. Their run in the post-season games ended in the semi-finals as they were defeated by eventual-winners Halstead Town, losing 2-1 after extra-time. ‘Fleet will hope they can have a similarly good season next term and get promoted to Step 5.

Burnham Ramblers – 6th

It will be the Ramblers 5th season in the division, having joined the league at the end of the 2017/18 season. Having been promoted to the Isthmian League North Division, the club lasted two seasons at Step 4 before being relegated back to the Essex Senior. After finishing bottom of the ESL in 2018, winning 10 of their 40 games, the club were relegated to the Eastern Counties League Division One South.

Burnham had a good season, but narrow missed out on the play-offs. A haul of 68 points in their 38 games saw them finish 6th, one place from the play-offs, missing out on the post-season schedule by two points. This season, the club will hope to go one better and reach the play-offs, competing for a return to the Essex Senior League.

Cannons Wood – 1st (Essex Alliance League Senior Division)

Formed in 2019 under the name DTFC, Cannons Wood reached Step 6 for the first time in 2022. The newly-branded club competed in the Essex Alliance League for the whole of their existence before being promoted to the Eastern Counties League.

The club won promotion last season, taking the EAL Senior Division title in the process. Having won 18 of their 24 games, the Woods beat Chadwell Heath Spartans to the title by 5 points. This term, the club will hope to remain at this level, trying to be competitive in the process.

Coggeshall United – 15th

Another newly-formed club, Coggeshall United will go into their fifth season in the Eastern Counties League. Having played their debut season in the Essex & Suffolk Border League Premier Division, and finishing as runners-up, the club joined the division ahead of the 2018/19 season. In their first season, they narrowly missed out on promotion to Hashtag United before remaining in the division since.

The Weavers 4th season in the league saw them finish lower than they would have hoped. Just 12 wins over the course of the season meant they had to settle for a 15th place finish, however, this term, they will be hoping to replicate seasons of the past as they seek promotion to Step 5 of the National League System.

Enfield Borough – 15th (Combined Counties League Division One)

Enfield Borough were moved across to the Eastern Counties Football League, having played in the Combine Counties League. After being founded in 2016, the club won the Spartan South Midlands League Division Two at their first attempt before spending three seasons in Division One. Ahead of the 2020/21 season, they were transferred to the Combine Counties Football League before moved across the leagues once again, this time to this division.

The Panthers finished 15th last term. A tough season for the club saw them finish 7 points off the relegation zone, having won just 12 of their 40 league games last season. They will hope for better luck in their new division as they seek to be more competitive and finish higher up the table.

Frenford – 9th

Frenford will contest their fifth season in the league, having joined the newly-formed league in its debut season, 2018/19. The club has spent much of its existence competing in the Essex Olympian League, winning two Premier Division titles between 2011 & 2013, before their move.

The clubs 2021/22 season saw them finish 9th. Their run run of mid-table finishes continued since 2018, having finished 9th, 13th and 9th in 3 of the last four seasons, however, they will hope to achieve their highest finish in the league, having found themselves previously 6th during the 20/21 curtailed season.

Hackney Wick – 12th

Hackney Wick are yet another side preparing for their fifth season in the Eastern Counties League. With a merger happening between London Bari and Hackney Wick, the club took the latter’s name, but the formers place in the Essex Senior League. A bottom place finish meant their first season (after the merger) ended in relegation to their current division.

The Wickers finished 12th last season, having hauled in 44 points from 11 wins and 11 draws. The club had navigated their way away from potential relegation, holding a 9 point lead over the relegation places, however, they will hope for a better season next term as they seek a return to the Essex Senior League.

May & Baker – 10th

May & Baker played in both the Essex Business Houses League and the Essex Olympian League before joining the Eastern Counties League at the end of the 2017/18 season, where they have remained since.

Last term was a mid-table season for Bakers as they finished 10th. One more draw and loss compared to wins for the east London side halted their progress up the table, although they were closer to the bottom of the table than the top with their points total. The club will hope replicate their start (and hope they can carry it on) in the curtailed 2019/20 season which saw them sit fourth after 24 games.

Newbury Forest – 16th

Founded in 2003, the club didn’t join the National League System until 2008, when they joined the Romford & District League. They followed their time in the league with seasons in the Essex & Suffolk Border League and Essex Olympian League before applying to join the Eastern Counties League Division One South ahead of its debut season, with their application being successful.

Forest’s fourth season in the County League saw them finish 16th, lower than they would have liked. The club found themselves 3 points off potential relegation places, but had enough to remain in the division and will hope they can improve upon that next season.

NW London – 1st (Middlesex County League Premier Division)

NW London were founded in 2015 and played their first season in the Middlesex County League two years later, before earning promotion to the Eastern Counties League.

The London club won 18 of their 26 games in the Premier Division last term, helping them to the title by 6 points over Brentham. With promotion to Step 6 for the first time in their history, the Gorillas will hope it isn’t a short stint as they seek to be competitive in what, on paper, looks like a tough league.

Park View – 17th

Park View will play their second season in the division, having joined the league in 2020. The club’s first season in the National League System came in Division Two of the Spartan South Midlands League in 2017/18, winning the league at their first attempt. After playing in Division One, moved across to the Thurlow Nunn after two seasons.

A difficult season for the club saw them finish 17th last term. Just 10 wins in 38 games, and over double that amount in losses, put them a solitary point off the relegation places. The club will want to see a vast improvement on last seasons form as they look for a higher finish next season.

Sporting Bengal United – 21st (Essex Senior League)

Sporting Bengal’s 11 year run in the Essex Senior League came to an end, as they were relegated. The Bengal Tigers joined the Step 5 division ahead of the 2011/12, achieving their highest finish of 8th in 2019.

The 2021/22 season produced the clubs worst return in the Senior League since the 2014/15 season. During that season, Sporting Bengal won 5 and draw 6 of their 38 games before they picked up three less points last term, winning 3 and drawing 4 of their 40 games. After a tough season, the club will look to bounce straight back, seeking promotion back to the Essex Senior League.

St Margaretsbury – 20th (Essex Senior League)

St Margaretsbury had joined the Essex Senior League ahead of the 2018/19 season, being transferred from the Spartan South Midlands League. The club played in the Midlands League from 1997 until they were moved across.

Their stay in the ESL lasted four seasons as they followed Sporting Bengal into the Eastern Counties League. Having dropped below Sawbridgeworth towards the latter part of the 2021/22 season, St Margaretsbury found themselves in the relegation, without the ability to recover after winning just 6 games. They will also hope to bounce straight back with an immediate return to Step 5.

Stanway Pegasus – 1st (Essex & Suffolk Border League Premier Division)

Having only been formed in 2018, Stanway Pegasus made a swift rise to Step 6 of the National League System. Upon their formation, the club entered the Essex & Suffolk Border League Division Two and within four seasons, made their way to the Eastern Counties League.

Under the management of Rosi Webb the club achieved an invincible season, winning 32 and drawing 2 of their 34 games in the Premier Division. Pegasus won the title by 24 points, over West Bergholt, and will prepare for their first semi-professional season, where they hope to be competitive from the very start.

Tower Hamlets – 20th (Southern Counties East League Premier Division)

Tower Hamlets spent nine seasons in the Essex Senior League, spanning from the 2011/12 season to the 2019/20 season, when they were transferred to the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division, where they spent a further two seasons before being relegated.

The club found themselves bottom of the Premier Division last season, after what was a very tough season. Three wins and three draws throughout their league campaign meant they finished 13 points from safety, dooming them to relegation to Division One. Hamlets will hope it’s a short spell at Step 6, as they look to recover as quickly as possible.

Wivenhoe Town – 5th

A former Isthmian League side, the clubs run in Division One can to an end in 2009/10 as they finished bottom of the division and were relegated to the Eastern Counties League Premier Division. After being relegated to Division One at the end of the 14/15 season, they made a brief return to the Premier Division the following season, however, another bottom finish in 2017/18 meant they were relegated to Division South of the Thurlow Nunn League.

The Dragons had a great season last term, finishing 5th in the division. A haul of 70 points sealed their place in the play-offs ahead of Burnham Ramblers, who finished 2 points behind them. Their time in the post season was short lived though as they were defeated by Buckhurst Hill in the semi-finals. The club will hope for another good season, looking to emulate their form of last season and compete for promotion.

Wormley Rovers – 7th

Wormley Rovers were members of the Hertfordshire Senior Counties League from their founded date in 1921, right up until the 2018/19 season. Having spent 26 years in the Premier Division from 1992, the club successfully applied to join the Eastern Counties League Division One South ahead of its debut season.

The Worms had a decent season last term, finishing 7th. With 17 wins under their belt from 38 games, the club found themselves 12 points off the play-offs with something to build upon. This season, they will hope to be mathematically closer to the players as they seek a rise to Step 5 for the first time.