Just under 100 days have passed since Walthamstow (then Waltham Forest) secured their place in the Essex Senior League thanks to a 3-1 win over Ilford.
It’s been a summer of change, both in E17 and in the rest of the League. We’ve changed our name to Walthamstow, to better represent the our community. We’ve seen plenty of new faces in the team, as manager Ryan Maxwell looks to build a squad capable of mounting a title challenge.
Our visitors on that day in April parted company with Alan Fenn and Billy Cove, the former now a coach at Braintree, and the latter now in charge of Epping in the Olympian League. The former Waltham Abbey Reserves management team are now in charge of the Foxes, and have brought much of the ESL Reserve Division title-winning squad with them.
And there’s been plenty of changes in the league’s constitution too. We lost five teams, three to promotion (Great Wakering Rovers, Basildon United, FC Romania) and two to relegation (Burnham Ramblers, Hackney Wick). Wadham Lodge were relegated, subsequently reprieved at the second time of asking, and then changed their name to Leyton Athletic.
Clapton will be without their large support, as their fan groups came together to form Clapton Community FC, who will play on the Intermediate pitch at Wadham Lodge, and in the Middlesex County League.
We welcome four new clubs to the league; Saffron Walden Town, St Margaretsbury, Stanway Rovers and Hoddesdon Town, who we face on the opening day of the season.
For Saffron Walden, it’s a return to the league they last played in back in 2003. They resigned from the ESL at the end of 2002-3 with the hope of joining the Eastern Counties League. However, permission was refused and they had to sit out a season before eventually joining the Eastern Counties for 2003-4.
Hoddesdon and St Margaretsbury have been shifted into the Essex Senior League for the first time in their histories. The Herts clubs have over 60 years in Spartan League between them, and felt somewhat aghast at the move which had been foisted upon them. Indeed, Hoddesdon appealed the decision, but were promptly told in no uncertain terms by the FA to get on with it.
With only one promotion spot available this season, and plenty of clubs expected to be challenging, it promises to be one of the most hotly contested league campaigns since… well, last season.