THE SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS LEAGUE WILL HAVE A VERY DIFFERENT LOOK TO IT WITH THE NON-LEAGUE RE-ORGANISATION. THERE ARE LOTS OF NEW CLUBS TRANSFERED FROM THE HELLENIC AND UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE ALONG WITH COCKFOSTERS AND HADLEY MAKING A WELOCME RETURN FROM THE ESSEX SENIOR LEAGUE. HERE WE TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF THE CLUB NEWS AND PRE-SEASON FIXTURES FOR ALL THE CLUBS. SOME OF THE CLUBS HAVE APPEALED THEIR PLACES IN THE LEAGUE SO SOME LATE CHANGES MAY BE MADE PRIOR TO THE BIG KICK OFF.
PREMIER DIVISION (20 teams)
No pre-season fixtures announced yet.
AYLESBURY VALE DYNAMOS
The Dynamos have announced a number of signings and re-signings for the new season. Club Captain and midfielder David Brown, central defender Terry Griffiths, left sided player Jake Baldwin, midfielder Alfie Touceda, defender and assistant manager Ben Gill, defender Dan Wilson, goalkeeper Daniel Mcateer along with former Edgware Town defender Luke Nugent have all been retained by the club.
Striker Harry Scott has returned after a spell with Step Four side Beaconsfield Town along with another forward player in Jamie Carter who has played for Buckingham Athletic and Risborough Rangers previously. Charlie Ogle who has represented Winslow United has also signed and is another striker/forward. Defender Dan Ball has joined and counts Aston Clinton and Winslow as former clubs.
Midfielder Will Foley has joined from Tring Athletic. Another player who counts Tring Athletic as a former club is Paolo Bagatti who is a defender who has also played for Leighton Town. Midfielder Will Salmon is the third player to make to the short journey across the border from Hertfordshire to Buckinghamshire having also played for Tring Athletic last season.
Eighteen year old Lewis Crosbie, a central midfielder, has joined after playing in Northampton Town's academy system.
No pre-season fixtures announced yet.
COCKFOSTERS (moved from the Essex Senior League)
'Fosters return to the SSML Premier after being moved to the Essex Senior League. Manager Ryan Wade will be assisted by former player Sam Ruff for the 2021/22 campaign after the departure of Nick Mountford. Ruff made a number of appearances for Harpenden Town last season.
After a two year spell with The Dirty Clarets goalkeeper George Rose has left to join Vanarama South side Slough Town. A fantastic move for the youngster who leaves Crawley Green with all the best wishes for everyone involved with the club. No news on any pre-season games as yet.
FLACKWELL HEATH (moved from Hellenic League Premier)
The Heathens are moved as part of the Football Association's reorganisation of the football pyramid. They have been members of the Hellenic Premier since 2007 when they were relegated from the Isthmian League where they had played in the lower divisions since 1984. Marcus Richardson is the man in charge - He is known for his playing days in local non-league football as well as spells in the football league with Cambridge United, Torquay United, Hartlepool United and Lincoln City amongst other clubs. He signed for Cambridge on the same day as Dave Kitson the new Chairman of Arlesey Town. Heath got the quarter-final of the FA Vase so will be a team to watch out for in the forthcoming season.
HADLEY (moved from Essex Senior League)
The Bricks move back to the familiar surroundings of the SSMFL after a two season spell in the Essex Senior League. In the disrupted seasons they won 7 of 8 games in 20/21 and 17 of 26 games in 19/20 as well as making the Fifth Round of the FA Vase where they narrowly lost to eventual finalist's Binfield on penalty kicks.
No pre-season fixtures announced yet.
The Harps celebrate an amazing 130 years of football in 2021. They have friendly games arranged at Rothamsted Park against Hendon (10th July), Saffron Walden Town (12th July), Hitchin Town (17th July) and Hertford Town (24th July).
HOLMER GREEN (moved from the Hellenic League Premier)
Another team to return to the SSMFL are Holmer Green who return after last playing in the 2017/18 season. Many Spartan League team's fans will be looking forward to visited Watchet Lane once move this forthcoming season.
The Reds have had some stand out performances in the FA Vase over the past few seasons and will be looking for a good showing in the league for the 2021/22 season with possible promotion back to the Step Four level they left at the end of the 2015/16. They got to the Quarter-Finals of the FA Vase in 2018, 2020 and 2021. They have the following pre-season games arranged -
Biggleswade FC (8th July), Berkhamsted (10th July), Pitstone & Ivinghoe (15th July), Bovingdon (17th July), AFC Dunstable (20th July), HITCHIN TOWN (24th July), KINGS LANGLEY (27th July), Thame United (31st July)
It's a new and exciting era at Pancake Lane for the 2021/22 season as former Edgware Town and non-league veteran Fergus Moore has taken over as Manager with Paul Marks as coach and Scott McGleish as Assistant Manager.
Manager Jack Metcalfe is busy behind the scenes preparing his squad for the new season. There have been no friendly fixtures announced as yet.
MILTON KEYNES IRISH (promoted from SSMFL Division One)
The history of non-league football in the town of Milton Keynes is a long one with many teams being formed and merging over the years. MK Irish are certainly looking to progress having been formed when Milton Keynes Robins (Buckingham Town rebranded in January 2019), Unite MK and Milton Keynes Irish Veterans merged together. Expect Terry Shrieve's side to surprise a few people this coming season.
NEW SALAMIS (promoted from SSMFL Division One)
The club progress to step 5 of the non-league pyramid just three seasons after moving from the KOPA Sunday League in 2018. The Haringey based club will be looking to move further upwards over the next few seasons. They host Brimsdown FC on Saturday 10th July and Sporting Bengal United on Saturday 24th July with away trips to West Essex on Tuesday 13th July and Wingate & Finchley on Saturday 17th July.
No pre-season fixtures announced yet.
RISBOROUGH RANGERS (promoted form the Hellenic League Division One East)
A fantastic way to celebrate their fiftieth anniversary for the club was promotion to Step Five of the non-league ladder and a return to the SSMFL.
No pre-season fixtures have been announced yet by the club. They do face Amersham Town on Thursday 22nd July .
DIVISION ONE (20 teams)
The Magpies have four pre-season games arranged as present against Kings Church Amersham u18s (3rd July), Hoddesdon town (10th July), Aylesbury United (13th July) and Tring Athletic (22nd July)
There has been no official announcement for pre-season friendly games. The Ampthill Army which is the club's Independent Supporter's Association have been producing podcasts recently which are well worth a listen. They will be returning on 29th June with their next episode.
I have information about one pre-season game so far being a trip to Tring Corinthians on Saturday 31st July. The club are looking for local people to volunteer at the club as well as an Assistant Coach
A busy pre-season for Buckingham Athletic - Scott Reynolds the former Grendon Rangers, Winslow United, Leighton Town and Aylesbury FC manager took over as boss last April. Let's hope the 2021/22 can be a non interupted one for him!
BURTON PARK WANDERERS (moved from the United Counties League Division One)
The first of the new teams in Division One. Wanderers have been playing in the UCL Division One since relegation from the Premier Division in 1990. Based in Burton Latimer which is a town just outside of Kettering in Northamptonshire. Their Latimer Park ground has been improved over the last few years following Kettering Town ground sharing from 2013.
IRCHESTER UNITED (moved from the United Counties League Division One)
The Romans are another side to move across from the UCL. The Village of Irchester is also in Northamptonshire in between Rushden and Wellingborough.
KIDLINGTON RESERVES (moved from the Hellenic League Division One East)
They were known as Kidlington Development from 2018 to 2020. The club's first team play in the Southern League Division One (Central) - The village is located just North of Oxford.
For the first time since 2002 when Letchworth FC withdrew from the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division the Hertfordshire town will have a team in the league after The Eagles were deservedly promoted from the Hertfordshire Senior County League. I expect The Eagles to cause a few shocks this season.
A difficult interrupted season for Manager Joe Croft in his first with the season. The former Welwyn GC goalkeeper has brought in Dwaine Bryan as his Assistant for the 2021/22 campaign. He was formerly on the coaching staff at Amersham Town. It would be great to see The Tigers have a good season.
LONG CRENDON (moved from the Hellenic League Division One East)
The Oxfordshire club only joined the Hellenic League in 2018 moving up to Division One after two seasons. They did play at the Recreation Ground in the village of Long Crendon but due to it not being up to the step six standard they currently ground-share at Oxford City's Marsh Lane home which isn't perfect as it's around a 30 mile trip. Back in 2014/15 the club were playing in the Aylesbury & District League Division One so they have climbed a decent way up the pyramid over the past few seasons. Could they be in the SSMFL Premier by 2022?
NORTHAMPTON SILEBY RANGERS (moved from the United Counties League Division One)
Another new club to the SSMFL. The name 'Sileby' comes from the Sileby Engineering Company as they club were formed as a work's team in 1968. Their Fernie Fields Sports ground is to the North-East of Northampton in the Moulton Park area.
PENN & TYLERS GREEN (moved from the Hellenic League Division One East)
PENN have played in Division One East of the Hellenic League since 2000. Their French School Meadow ground takes it's name for the eighteenth century school in the area which catered for orphans from the French Revolution. They did win the D1E title in 2016 and 2017 but were denied promotion to Step Five as their ground at the time had no floodlights installed. They were forced to play evening games and winter games at Amersham Town for a short period but are now back home where floodlights have been installed.
RAUNDS TOWN (moved from the United Counites League Division One)
Nicknamed "The Shopmates" in reference to the historical shoe and boot industry in the local area which was largely work-shop based. They have been members of the UCL since 1950 aside from a four season stay in the Southern League from 1996 to 2000 following their Premier Division title win in 95/96. In the last few seasons they have struggled towards the bottom of Division One in the UCL finishing 19th of 20 in 18/19 and then in the two unfinished seasons 14th (of 20) and 17th (of 20).
RUSHDEN & HIGHAM UNITED (moved from the United Counties League Division One)
Formed in 2007 following the merger of Higham United and Rushden Rangers. The club play at Hayden Road the former home of Rushden Town who moved out when they merged with Irthlingborough Diamonds to from Rushden & Diamonds. Football in the Northamptonshire town seemed to go full circle in 2017 when the phoenix club AFC Rushden & Diamonds moved in to ground share with Rushden & Higham United at Hayden Road whilst their new ground is planned and built in nearby Chelveston. R&H have always played in the UCL Division One with their best placed finish being 5th in 2011/12.
SHEFFORD TOWN & CAMPTON
The 2019 Bedfordshire County League Premier Division champions will hopefully get to play a full season at Step Six for the 2021/22 season. They were top of the table when it was put on hold in the 2020/21 campaign having won eight of their eleven games.
The Eagle's New Roker Park Stadium is amazing and one of the best grounds at Step Six of the non-league ladder with lots of room for expansion and everything is set up for a move up the pyramid over the next few years. It's a new era for the club as Brett Donnelly has been made new manager recently. He had been head coach at Hitchin Town as well as Assistant Manager to Lee Allinson at Biggleswade Town. Donnelly also has a 20 year playing career in local football which including being a pivotal part of the Stotfold team which won the UCL Premier Divison and Cup as well as the Befordshire Senior Cup. He will have tow assistant managers in Paul Donnelly and Eddie McLoughlin. Donnelly is another former Stotfold player and moves from a coaching role at Letchworth GC Eagles where he played a huge part in helping them to promotion to Step Six. McLoughlin moves from his Assistant Manger role at Step Four Hendon and has also coached at Hertford Town and Biggleswade Town. Stotfold will be considered the favourites for the D1 title by many local football fans.
THAME RANGERS (moved from the Hellenic League Division One East)
Rangers moved from the Wycombe and District Senior League to the SSMFL Division Two in 2016 winning the title in their first season which saw them gain promotion to the Hellenic League D1E.
WELLINGBOROUGH WHITWORTH (moved from the United Counties League Division One)
The Flourmen move across from the UCL D1 with their Town rival's Wellingborough Town staying in the UCL in the newly created step five Premier Division South. The two grounds are next door to each other in the Northamptonshire town. No news on any pre-season games at this present time.
Eynesbury United (new - from the Cambs County League)
Little Paxton Rangers (newly formed club)
MK College Academy (New)
New Bradwell St Peter
Old Bradwell United
Pitstone & Ivinghoe
Risborough Rangers Development (New)
The 61 FC (Luton)
> Mursley United who were in Division Two last season have withdrawn from the league for the 21/22 season.