The Essex Senior League has finally released the fixtures for the forthcoming 2017/18 season and the first handful of games feature some new faces as well as familiar faces and old rivalries.
Clapton start the season this Saturday away to Basildon United at the Stuart Bingham Stadium – a repeat of our opening fixture in the 2015/16 season.
The Bees have appointed the former Basildon Town management team of Mark Harrison and Liam Wallace in the summer, following the departure of Aaron Bloxham.
Former assistant manager Lee Connor has been appointed as the club’s new chairman and will be hoping United can improve on their 9th place finish last season.
The following Wednesday we travel to Cricklefield Stadium to face our old rivals, Ilford.
It has been a summer of uncertainty for The Foxes after they were controversially voted out of the ESL at the AGM. However they successfully appealed to the FA and have now been reinstated.
Former Clapton captain and current Ilford boss Allan Fenn will be hoping for a title challenge this season after signing a string of impressive players including last season’s league top scorer James Peagram who netted 45 times in all competitions for champions Barking.
Following our trip to Clacton in the FA Cup, we return to league action on Saturday 12th August for our first home game, against Woodford Town 2017.
Woodford is the new name of the team formerly known as Haringey & Waltham, and going further back Greenhouse Sports, Greenhouse London, Mauritius Sports Association and Mauritius Sports & Pennant.
Town have a familiar look at least in the dugout, with former Wadham Lodge manager Tony Ievoli taking the hotseat, assisted by former Tons assistant manager Neil Day.
It is not known what links the setup has to the historic Woodford Town who, with Vince McBean as their chairman, shared the Old Spotted Dog with Clapton in 1999 before going bust in 2003.
Woodford, whose Snakes Lane ground burnt down but has not been redeveloped, will play at Broxbourne, where Eton Manor were based last season.
We then travel to Mile End Stadium on Friday 25th August to face Tower Hamlets. Last season 308 fans piled through the gates for the corresponding fixture, also on a Friday night, and no doubt Hamlets will be hoping for a similar or increased attendance this season.
AJ Ashinike has returned as manager and has recruited some impressive looking players, including former Barking and Ilford hotshot Wale Odedoyun and will be hoping his team can improve on their 20th place finish last season.
The rest of the fixtures are still being finalised and will be put on our fixtures page soon.