Moving across to the Essex Alliance League, there is plenty more football to be enjoyed. Whilst the Senior Division is likely to be the focus of many spectators, with the league champions being promotion to Step 6 of the National League System, the decision to split the Premier Division into two divisions is likely to make the push for promotion to the top division even more competitive. We take a look at both the Premier Divisions as well as the Senior Division ahead of the 2022/23 season.
Senior Division (17 teams)
The Senior Division will be the talk of the EAL next term with the potential for promotion to Step 6. The focus of many clubs in the division will be a place higher up the pyramid from 2023, although, it won’t be easy for whatever club has that ambition.
The Step 7 division sees the biggest overhaul of teams, with almost half of the clubs competing next season being new for the 2022/23 season. Four sides left the division as Cannons Wood (formerly DTFC) were promoted to the Eastern Counties League Division One South, both CSM London and Tower United were relegated to the Premier Division West after a difficult season and Chigwell Town folded after five years as a club. In there place, a huge eight teams were added; Frenford Development (1st), Oakside (2nd), Crookz United (3rd) and Dagenham United (4th) were all promoted from the Premier Division while May & Baker Reserves and Walthamstow Reserves both joined from the Essex Senior League Reserve Divisions. Elsewhere, Brimsdown were relegated from the Eastern Counties League Division One South and Sporting Hackney were moved across from the Middlesex County Football League Premier Division.
The sides who missed out on promotion last season (Chadwell Heath Spartans, Woodford East and Jolof Sports) will hope to be battling it out once again for promotion to Step 6 while the sides who finished just behind them ((Lymore Gardens, FC Baresi and FC Petrocub) will want an improved season, finishing higher than mid-table. Blue Marlin, Kit Out London and Rapid Chingford had tough seasons, finishing towards the bottom of the table and will hope for a stark improvement to avoid a drop down the divisions.
Premier Division East (11 teams)
With the Premier Division split into two divisions ahead of the new season, the East sees the biggest influx of teams to bring the division to 11 teams. Joining those London Park City and Wapping, who featured in the Premier Division last season with be an addition 9 sides. Belfry (1st), Cowley Community (2nd) and RCXI (3rd) were all promoted from Division One whilst Fairlop Rovers (1st) were pushed up into the division, having won Division Two. The division also sees the additions of Aveley U23’s and Barkingside U23’s as well as Chingford Athletic (who finished bottom of the EOFL Division One), Freetown FC and Waltham Abbey A, who last competed in the Herts & District Football League where they finished 2nd last season.
Both Wapping and London Park City will be hoping to show the other sides how it’s done, having been the only two to remain in this Premier Division from last season, although, they will certainly face tough competition from the sides that were promoted from Division One and Two respectively, with all clubs looking to show why they deserve to have been promoted last season. With the addition of a couple of Under 23 sides and a mix of other clubs who were transferred, the East division looks set to be an entertaining division.
Premier Division West (11 teams)
A mix of ex-Senior division sides and Premier Division sides make up just under half of the West division for next season, making it a tough league on paper. 6th-placed Athletic Newham Under 23’s, 7th-placed London Cranes and 8th-placed North East Lions are joined by the two relegated Senior division sides in Tower United and CSM London. In addition to those sides, Wanstead were promoted from Division 1 having finished fourth while AEK London, G7 FC, Leyton City, Priory Park Rangers and Soul FC also join the league ahead of the coming season.
The clubs hoping to do the best will be those that remain from the Premier Division last season. Athletic Newham U23’s, London Cranes and North East Lions will hope to build upon their mid-table finishes last season, but there are plenty of additional sides who will look to challenge that. Wanstead will want to build on their decent form in the division below last season, and will hope they can do well in the Premier Division, while AEK London and Priory Park Rangers, who came from the Middlesex County Football League will hope to be competitive in their new league. Leyton City and G7 will also want to be competitive in the new season, hoping for a long stay in the Alliance League whilst Soul FC will hope to have the step up from Sunday football to Saturday football.