The Southern League Division One Central will be hotly contested this season. The division welcomes plenty of teams, all of which will hope they can be a force to be reckoned with. Walthamstow and Hadley were both promoted from Step 5, Biggleswade Town were relegated into the division and both Cirencester Town and Highworth Town were both transferred from the Division One South. Here’s how the division will look with the new season fast approaching.

AFC Dunstable – 3rd

AFC Dunstable will compete in their 5th consecutive season in the Southern League Division One Central, having been promoted at the end of the 2015/16 season. The club finished top of the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division in 2017, having navigated their way through the various Divisions of the league, having joined the league in 1996.

Last season saw the OD’s finish 3rd. 21 wins from their 38 league games was enough to see them finish in the play-offs, 2 points ahead of Ware and Welwyn Garden City, but in the post-season play-offs, their run came to an end in the semi-finals. After a 0-0 draw with Ware, they lost 4-3 on penalties, keeping them in the league for another season, with them hoping to take a step closer to promotion next season.

Aylesbury United – 14th

Aylesbury will go into their 10th season in the Southern League Division One Central, having been promoted at the end of the 2012/13 season. In that season, 28 wins in their 42 games in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division saw them finish as runners-up, behind an impressive Dunstable Town, who went unbeaten all season, finishing 20 points ahead, but it was still enough to get promoted.

Last term proved to be a tough season for the Ducks. Just 12 wins in 38 league games put them 14th and further down the table than they would have hoped, however, they will hope for a better season that will see them compete for a return to Step 3.

Barton Rovers – 15th

Barton Rovers have been members of the Southern League since 2004, competing in the Eastern Division until 2006 when they joined the Division One Midlands and then being part of the Division One Central from 2010 onwards.

The Rovers finished lower than they would have hoped, finding themselves 15th. 11 wins was enough to keep them away from potential relegation, although this term, they will want to be competing for a top-half finish.

Berkhamsted – 2nd

Berkhamsted will prepare for their fifth season in this division, having been promoted from the Spartan South Midlands League at the end of the 2017/18 season. A haul of 88 points wasn’t enough to win the title, as Welwyn Garden City finished on 100 points, but a runners-up spot was enough to see them promoted to Step 4.

The Comrades came close to promotion last season, almost earning themselves a debut season at Step 3. 24 wins in 38 games put them in second place, 10 points behind champions Bedford Town, but a place in the play-offs was to come. Their post-season campaign came to an end as they were beaten by eventual-winners North Leigh in the semi-finals, losing 2-1. The modern club will hope to be within touching distance of promotion again, but will hope they can achieve it this time around.

Biggleswade – 9th

Established in 2016, the newly-formed club were placed in the Spartan South Midlands League Division One, winning it at their first attempt and being promoted to the Premier Division. They spent two seasons at Step 5, winning the Premier Division in 2019 and earning promotion to the Division One Central of the Southern League, where they have remained since.

Although the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons weren’t completed, Biggleswade found themselves in their lowest position, finishing 9th. A top-half finish in their first full season at Step 4 gives them a platform to build on, and they will hope they will be higher up the table come the end of the season.

Biggleswade Town – 20th (Southern League Premier Division Central)

Biggleswade Town return to the Division One Central since the 2012/13 season. The club finished 4th during the mentioned season, qualifying for the play-offs with 85 points on the board. In the post-season, they faced Godalming Town in the semi-finals, winning 2-1, before beating Rugby Town 3-1 to earn promotion to the Premier Division Central, remaining there for nine seasons.

Last season was a disappointing one for the Waders, as they were relegated back to Step 4. Just 7 wins in 40 league games saw them finish second from bottom, with them hoping to make it a short stay in the division as they seek to rise back up to Step 3.

Cirencester Town – 3rd (Southern League Division One South)

Cirencester Town will play in the Division One Central, having spent the last five seasons playing in the Division One South. The club had played in the Premier Division for three seasons between 2014 and 2017, before they were relegated.

The Centurions were 3rd last season, qualifying for the play-off. With a haul of 77 points, they finished a solitary point behind Frome Town and came up against Winchester City, but found themselves on the losing end of a 4-1 scoreline in the semi-finals. The club will hope to be as competitive in their new division, having been transferred across.

Didcot Town – 13th

Another team who had previously played in the Southern League Premier Division, Didcot Town were relegated back to Division One at the end of the 2010/11 season, having spent a season at Step 3. The club spent seven seasons in the Division One South & West before being transferred to the Division One Central ahead of the 2019/20 season.

The Railwaymen’s fourth season in the Division One Central saw them finish 13th after won 13 of their league games. The club had found themselves fighting at the bottom of the table before both the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons were curtailed, so saw some improvement in their first full season in the division, but will hope they can continue to improve next term.

FC Romania – 12th

FC Romania were transferred to the Southern League Division One Central ahead of the 2021/22 season, having previously played in the Isthmian League South Central Division. The club earned promotion from the Essex Senior League, having finished 3rd, a point off second-place Basildon United and 3 points off Champions Great Wakering Rovers. Having spent three seasons in the Isthmian League, the club have remained in the Southern League since.

Last season saw a mid-table finish for the Wolves. The mid-table finish was a decent season for the club, who needed to find their feet in the new division, however, they will hope to build on that with a top-half finish this term.

Hadley – 3rd (Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division)

Hadley achieved promotion to Step 4 for the first time, having finished 3rd in the Spartan South Midlands League. The club had originally played in the Spartan South Midlands League during the 2008/09 season, finishing second to earn promotion to Division One. Within the space of another season, they finished second again, going up to the Premier Division, where they spent 9 seasons before being transferred to the Essex Senior League. After just two seasons, the club returned to the Spartan South Midlands League.

The Bricks season last term saw them finish 3rd, 10 points off second and the last promotion place, but due to Risborough Rangers failing ground grading and being denied promotion, Hadley were promoted in their place. They will hope they can have a good season at Step 4, remaining competitive.

Harlow Town – 7th

Harlow Town returned to the Isthmian League ahead of the 2006/07 season, spending a 15 year spell between the Isthmian League North, Premier Division and South Central before being transferred to the Southern League in 2021. After one season in the Isthmian League North, the Hawks were promoted and spent 2 seasons in the Premier Division. They returned to the North Division in 2009 before being promoted again in 2016, having been in the North Division for seven seasons. Another three seasons at Step 3 came between 2016/17 and 2018/19 before they returned to Step 4.

The Hawks found themselves 7th last season. After winning 17 of their 38 games, the club finished in the top-half, but were still 10 points off the play-offs. They will hope to build on their finish last season and will look for a return to Step 3.

Hertford Town – 16th

Hertford Town were promoted Step 4 ahead of the 2017/18 season, having finished as runners-up in the Spartan South Midlands League the previous season. Town had joined the Spartan South Midlands League in 2006, following the disbandment of the Isthmian League Division Two, but after spending 11 seasons at Step 5, they were promoted to the Isthmian League North Division after London Colney turned down promotion. They spent a further 4 seasons in the Step 4 division before being transferred to this division.

The Blues’ first season in the division saw them finish lower than they would have wanted. Just 10 wins in 38 league games saw them finish 16th, but this season, they will hope to be higher up the table with a better season.

Highworth Town – 10th (Southern League Division One South)

Highworth Town have been in the Southern League since the 2018/19 season, following promotion from the Hellenic League Premier Division. During the 2017/18 season, they finished 3rd, 10 points off 1st and 2nd, but it was enough to join Thatcham Town into the Southern League. Ahead of the new season, they were transferred across to the Division One Central.

Highworth finished 10th last season, winning 12 of their 38 games. The Worthians had lost more than they had won, but were far enough from the relegation zone to be worried. This term they will want to be more competitive in the Central Division, looking to finish higher up the table.

Kempston Rovers – 18th

Kempston will prepare for their seventh season in the Southern League Division One Central. The club won promotion to the division for the first time in 2016, having beaten Leicester Nirvana to the United Counties League Premier Division South title by a +2 goal difference.

A difficult season for the Rovers saw them finish 18th, having won just 8 of their 38 games. Their haul of 29 points left them 6 points off potential relegation, but although they weren’t facing automatic relegation, they still had to play a inter-step play-off, narrowly beating Step 5 Eccleshill United 5-4 on penalties after a 2-all draw, keeping them at Step 4. This term, they will hope to avoid another potential relegation play-off and will hope they can finish higher up the table.

Kidlington – 17th

Kidlington will go into their fourth consecutive Southern League Division One Central season, having been transferred ahead of the 2018/19 season. The club won promotion to Step 4 at the end of the 2015/16 season after beating Thatcham Town to the Hellenic League Premier Division title by 7 points. They spent the 2016/17 season in the Southern League Division One East before being transferred to the Division One Wets ahead of the following season, with another move to the newly-formed Division One Central a season later.

Their third season in the division saw them finish 17th. Another side who recorded just 8 wins during the season, they finished 6 points ahead of Kempston Rovers and had a good enough points-per-game to get a reprieve from an inter-step play-off. This term, they will hope to be fighting higher up table.

Thame United – 8th

Thame United will prepare for their sixth season in the Southern League, having been promoted in 2017. The club finished top of the Hellenic League Premier Division at the end of the 2016/17 season, beating Bracknell Town to the title by 3 points, earning them promotion to Step 4.

Last season was a decent one for the Red Kites, who finished 8th with 16 wins from their 38 games. The haul of 60 points put them 11 points off the play-offs, but they will hope to use the 2021/22 season as a platform to build on as they look to be closer to the post-season games.

Waltham Abbey – 11th

Waltham Abbey had a brief spell in Isthmian League Premier Division during the 2009/10 season, having beaten Concord Rangers 5-4 on penalties in the Isthmian League North Division play-off final. Despite their best efforts, they were relegated at the end of the season and returned to the North Division. 7 years of playing in the Step 4 division, the club were moved across to the South Central Division, spending four seasons there before being transferred to the Southern League Division One Central ahead of last season.

The club’s first season in the Southern League saw them finish 11th. 15 wins in their 38 games was enough to put them mid-table, but the Abbott’s will hope for a better season this term, competing for promotion back to Step 3 like they did when they played in the Isthmian League.

Walthamstow – 1st (Essex Senior League)

Walthamstow will return to the Southern League for the first time in 16 years, following their promotion from the Essex Senior League. Then named Waltham Forest, Stow last featured in the Southern League during the 2004/05 & 2005/06 seasons before being transferred to the Isthmian League North Division at the end of the latter. The club spent a further 8 seasons at Step 4 before being relegated to the ESL at the end of the 2013/14 season.

The Stags claimed the Step 5 title last season, their first title for 37 years, as they won 28 of their 40 games. Their haul of 92 points saw them claim the title by 9 points over Saffron Walden Town and this term, the club will hope for another extended period at Step 4.

Ware – 4th

Ware have remained at Step 4 for the past 48 seasons, having been put into the Isthmian League ahead of the 1975/76 season, remaining at this level since. Having started in the Isthmian League, following Clevedon Town’s demotion from the Southern League, the club were moved from the North Division, to the Southern League Division One Central in 2015, but returned to the Isthmian League the following season. Paul Halsey’s men made a return to the Southern League ahead of last season, having spent a further 5 seasons in the Isthmian League.

Ware had an impressive first season in the Southern League, continuing where they left off after the two Covid-hit seasons and fighting for promotion. 21 wins in their 38 league games saw them finish 4th, qualifying them for the play-offs. In the post-season games, the Blues came through a tough semi-final, beating AFC Dunstable 4-3 on penalties after a 0-0 draw, but were defeated 4-2 in the final to North Leigh. This term, Ware will hope to go one step further and achieve promotion to Step 3.

Welwyn Garden City – 5th

Welwyn Garden City had found themselves relegated from the Spartan South Midlands League at the end of the 2009/10 season, playing in Division One until they won promotion in 2015, with a top-of-the-table finish. The club spent three seasons in the Premier Division before they were promotion to the Southern League, being placed in the Division One Central and remaining their since.

The Citizens finished 5th last season, recording the same amount of wins and finishing level on points with Ware, but finishing below them in the table with a -11 goal-difference. With a 5th place finish, the club were in the play-off places, but didn’t get a chance to compete as they were excluded. The club had been initially relegated for failing ground grading, but that decision was overturned, but the exclusion from the play-offs remained. Welwyn will hope they can be competing for promotion again and will keep their fingers cross, they can fairly compete for it.