More details of the new Step 6 league for Essex have been revealed and it’s led to us to speculate who might be playing in it…
Here’s what we understand so far…
We have referred to the league as Essex Senior League Division Two in the past, but it will actually be called the Eastern Senior League.
The new Step 6 league is a collaboration between two existing Step 5 leagues – the ESL and the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League, which covers North Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk. In fact we believe the league is going to be mainly run by the existing Eastern Counties League officials.
The Eastern Senior League will feature a north and south division, with the geographical split being roughly at Ipswich. So what we have been called ESL Division 2 before is really the Eastern Senior League South.
Over the coming years, any Essex-based clubs currently playing in the Thurlow Nunn League set-up will more than likely end up in the Essex Senior League or Eastern Senior League South.
For instance if a Thurlow Nunn club like Felixstowe & Walton or FC Clacton were promoted to the Isthmian League but later relegated again, they would be placed in the ESL not go back to the Thurlow Nunn. Likewise if they are relegated from the Thurlow Nunn, they would be relegated to the Eastern Counties League South.
In short, the Essex Senior League and Eastern Senior League South are going to be covering all of Essex, with Thurlow Nunn and Eastern Senior League North more of a East Anglia only set-up.
There will be 16 clubs in the Eastern Senior League North and South, which means that midweek league games won’t be needed unless there are lots of postponements.
So who will be in the Eastern Senior League South?
We won’t know the make-up of the league until the end of the season at the earliest, but there’s been no shortage of clubs applying, from as low as Step 12, six divisions below, and some clubs that aren’t in the pyramid.
We’re going to go through all the clubs we think could be in the new Step 6 league.
Clubs in Eastern Counties League in the North Essex area
These seem highly to be in the new Eastern Senior League South…
AFC Sudbury Reserves
Braintree Town Reserves
Clubs promoted from lower leagues
These clubs are believed to have been approved…
Benfleet – Essex Olympian League Div 2 (Step 9)
Coggleshall United – Essex & Suffolk Border League Premier (Step 7)
Felixstowe & Walton Reserves – Thurlow Nunn Reserve League (non-pyramid)
Laindon Orient – Southend Borough Combination (non-pyramid)
Newbury Forest – Essex Olympian League Div 1 (Step 8)
These club are believed to be possibles..
AEK London – Middlesex County League Div 1 (Step 8)
Brightlingsea Regent Reserves – Thurlow Nunn Reserve League (non-pyramid)
Fire United Christian – Middlesex County League Div 1 (Step 8)
Frenford – Essex Olympian League Premier (Step 7)
Harwich & Parkeston – Essex & Suffolk Border League (Step 7)
Hashtag United– YouTube club (non-pyramid)
Lopes Tavares London – Essex Alliance League Premier (Step 12)
May & Baker – Essex Olympian League Premier (Step 7)
Rayleigh Town – Essex Olympian League Premier (Step 7)
Southend Sports – Essex Olympian League Div 4 (Step 11)
Sporting Hackney – Middlesex County League Premier (Step 7)
White Ensign – Essex Olympian League Premier (Step 7)
Wormley Rovers – Herts Senior County League Premier (Step 7)
Most of the clubs should be self-explanatory but here’s a bit more information about the clubs without a place name in their title: AEK London are a club set up by Greek refugees from Turkey who play in Edmonton; Fire United Christian are a Brazilian church club who play at the Terence McMillan in Plaistow; Hashtag United are a team who play behind-closed-doors friendlies at New River Stadium in Haringey for a YouTube audience; Lopes Tavares London are a Brazilian club who play at West Ham Memorial Park in Plaistow.
There could be some interesting stadiums in the new league – Harwich & Parkeston’s is a beauty as you can see from the Flickr gallery from when Clapton visited for a friendly in 2013.
Meanwhile Benfleet play at Conference South side Canvey Island’s home, Braintree Town Reserves at the Conference South club’s stadium, Holland FC at FC Clacton’s home, Laindon Orient at Bostik North side Bowers & Pitsea’s home, and Newbury Forest at Redbridge FC’s Oakside Stadium.
Clubs relegated from the Essex Senior League
Officially up to 4 clubs could be relegated from the Essex Senior League. However, assuming some of the possible listed above make the grade, that is likely to be fewer.
Eton Manor – ‘non-playing members’ and as such believed to be automatically relegated
Hackney Wick – adrift at the bottom of the league and almost certainly relegated too
The other relegation spot/s could be filled by Wadham Lodge, Burnham Ramblers, Stansted, Waltham Forest or Barkingside.
We’ll know the real line-up in the next month or so.