Away from the more popular Steps 1-5, lays a feast of football at level 10 and below of the National League system. The Essex Olympian League is set to offer another season of competitive football in the Premier Division and Division One. Next up, we take a brief look at what both divisions have to offer ahead of the 2022/23 season.
Premier Division (14 teams)
The rewards of winning promotion from the EOFL Premier Division is a place at Step 6 of the National League system. The rise to level 10 of the English football pyramid is a jump up to senior football that all clubs are looking to achieve as soon as possible.
Since last season, there have been many changes through promotion and relegation. Last terms league leader’s were demoted to Division Four as the Ongar Town Reserves became the club’s first team with the latter taking the formers place lower down the Olympian League whilst runners-up Basildon Town took their promotion place, going up to the Eastern Counties League Division One South. Down the other end, Harold Wood Athletic were relegated following a tough campaign. 13 points from their 28 games meant they finished bottom of the table, seeing their run in the top division come to an end. In place of those who departed the division, Runwell Sports and Toby FC were promoted from Division One. Champions Toby ended an excellent campaign with 45 points, winning just over half their games whilst Runwell Sports were rewarded for their good season, finishing a point behind Toby, but being moved up with a promotion to Step 7.
After finishing 3 points off possible promotion last season, Rayleigh Town will hope they can earn a top-spot finish and get promoted this term, however, they will face tough competition from the likes of Hutton, Kelvedon Hatch, Catholic United and Sungate who all finished within 3-6 points of each other and will hope to be closer to promotion next season. Down the other end, Canning Town, Springfield and Leigh Ramblers will look for better campaigns as they look to avoid a potential drop into Division One having found themselves towards the bottom of the table while the newcomers from Division One will hope to be competitive in the division and avoid a return straight back. Old Southendian, Shenfield, Bishop’s Stortford Swifts and Galleywood, who all finished mid-table last season will want to be closer to the top of the table and dodge an unnecessary relegation battle.
Division One (11 teams)
Winning Division One of the EOFL brings clubs to within one promotion of a rise to Step 6. Whilst teams playing in the division may see it as a distant dream, succeeding here, would bring the dream ever closer.
There were plenty of changes afoot in Division One too. With both Runwell Sports & Toby promoted, it left space for Harold Wood Athletic to drop into the league as well as the Division Two champions ACD United to be promoted, following a superb campaign that saw them win the title by 5 points having won 17 of their 22 games. Both Chingford Athletic and Snaresbrook were moved across to the Essex Alliance League Premier Division East and Division Two respectively. Both those sides were replaced by Manford Way, who finished second in Division Two and Harold Hill, who were 3rd.
For the 2022/23 season, Wakering Sports will hope for another good campaign as they seek to get promoted to the Premier Division, having finished 3rd last season, but it won’t be easy as Corinthians (4th), Old Chelmsfordians (5th) and Epping Town (6th) also hope to fight for promotion, giving ‘Sports a good run for their money. Elsewhere, Beacon Hill Rovers, Herongate Athletic and Leigh Town will hope for much better term this year as they seek to avoid a relegation battle. Those three sides will want to have better fortunes comfortably remaining in the league going into the 2023/24 season. Harold Wood Athletic will look to bounce straight back to the Premier Division, dodging an unnecessary long stay in Division One whilst newcomers ACD United, Manford Way and Harold Hill will hope they can be competitive from the get-go as they want to avoid a return to Division Two after just one season.