The next step on our magical visit of the TVPL Season reviews is Division One.
The big news back at July 2018’s AGM wasn’t the Chairman’s hair, nor the fact a silver BMW had parked waaaay over the lines, meaning a black Audi (mine) couldn’t get out properly and had to do a 19-point Austin Powers turn to get home (gggrrrrrr). Nope it was Newbury “failed” ground regulations for Step 7 and the 5th best team in the Premier were joining D1. Terrible they said. What’s that all about they cried. Ridiculous crowed the crowds. Then we stopped talking about the Chairman’s hair and realised D1 had to get on with it. Yet Langford was the last to laugh…
We called it in the summer. But, it was kinda like saying “Kelly Brook’s alright looking”, or pointing out Tupac was actually a drug-riddled rascal. It was obvious.
It was like Brad Pitt turning up at your mate’s party. Firstly, there must be a reason he ain’t in Monaco/the Premier Division that he can’t influence as, let’s be honest, 9 pints at the Dog & Duck isn’t as good as eating lobster with Julia Roberts, Clooney, Diddy and the new bond girl (what a party THAT would be!). It’s gonna be all about him, everyone talks gushingly about him, you know you’re playing for seconds with the ladies and he’ll put you all to shame. And know it.
Despite all that, Langer’s Lads won with humility and while they simply battered some of our D1 sides, not once did they blow their own, nor dismiss those sides. They got on with the job in hand against a backdrop of ground issues (which we won’t comment about on here, but well done lads!). Top class from all at the club.
It was 12 wins on the spin from the off, with 46 goals and just 5 conceded. The title was effectively won, but Russell Benham – winner of this season’s D1 Golden Boot with 26 – & player gaffer Danny Langford were on fire. It was unlucky 13 as Maidenhead Town hosted and inflicted the only loss of the season to the to-be Champs, but Newbury then carried on again, with the Cups also at the forefront of their season. It took Premier Champs Marlow to knock them out of the County Cup in the Semis, and an incredible 5-4 win for Imaan Lions to lose out in the Quarters in the League Cup. But a solid season across the board, with 17 from 20 wins and a 12-pt gap at the top shows the class. We see a tilt at the Premier title next term fo’sure.
To the race for 2nd. Our summer eyes wandered fondly to Imaan Lions & Cookham Dean Ressies, with both just 1 win away last year from the title. We stuck with Imaan in January and twisted from Cookham, instead trusting form & eying up Maidenhead Town with a push from Finch. It was so tight and close until late February….
It was Maidenhead Town! One of the stories of the season was the rebirth of MTFC. New gaffer. New players. New pitch (and what a pitch!) and new ambition, Town ended the term with the tag ‘The Entertainers’ as while they scored for fun, they also let more goals in than all the other Top 6 teams (something they’ll need to address if they secure Premier football)…3rd place in the Golden Boot race fell to Mitchell Burley with 16.
A patchy start, with losses to Cookham & Imaan, was remedied with some big wins; 7-0 over Westwood and a big away win at bogey side Eldon to move Town mid-table in November. It was a 9-game unbeaten run through to February that moved them into promotion contention, which coincided with Imaan’s fall from grace after Xmas. A 5-0 humbling at Newbury brought Town back to earth, but the return win over the Champs gave Town the points cushion they needed to have 2nd in their sights. With other results falling nicely, a last-day win over Finch guaranteed Town promotion & Step 7 football for the first time in their 15-year history. Indeed Town will be disappointed to lose in the Semi of the Maidenhead Cup – for the 4th season in a row – and to have been stuffed in the League Cup. We look forward to seeing The Entertainers in the Premier on the Bisham Carpet!
Third spot was taken by Westwood Reserves in a remarkable season which didn’t look real back in October after two heavy losses from heavyweights Town & Imaan, 7-0 & 5-0 drubbings. Yet a superb run, started off by 4 straight wins, the highlight being a Reading Cup win over Hellenic Taplow team, gave Julie’s Juniors renewed confidence. Top scorer Danny Nicholson – 4th in the Golden Boot this term – started firing and Wood pushed on in all 3 cups and the league.
A couple of losses followed, but then the hot streak; 7 straight victories pushed Wood into 4th spot with games in hand. Wins over Maidenhead Town, Cookham & Hurst, before another huge result at ailing Imaan, a 4-0 thumping gave Westwood a chance for a happier ending than any parlour we know. End of season wins over Finch and a draw at the Champs saw them end 3rd.
Add to this a Cup win over Premier side Woodley Royals in the Reading Cup, and another final appearance – losing to a strong Wargrave side – gave Wood Ressies their strongest season in years. Hats off gents!
Imaan. Oh Imaan. It could have been so different. With a league spot of 4th (may end 3rd after a postponed game v Eldon is to be decided upon), the Lions will see the loss of key players as a huge disappointment. More dangerous to D1 than Hauwei to global security until early December, Big Mick’s Mob fell away and will rue the chance to have contested the title let alone promotion. Still, superb displays over Maidenhead and a wonderful cup win over Champs Newbury in reaching the League Cup semi-final, it wasn’t all bad as the Lions laid a marker for next term. Watch out D1, these boys will come back harder than any Ex on the Beach scorned lover…
Bill Clinton once said “it’s a game of two halves”. We think he was referring to his marriage, but in football terms, it IS Reading YMCA. Horrific before Xmas – 6 without a win from the off and just 1 win – yet title winning form after it – 9 unbeaten after it with 7 wins! While it could be just a coincidence, Ryan Adams joined the D1 campaign after the loss of the YM all-conquering First team and his 20 goals (yes, 20) in just 11 games gave him Runner up in the Golden Boot and Lemm’s Lads bare points bruv. Fair play in keeping club legends (others joined Premier title chasers) so we expect YM to be pushing for promotion next term down at the Cauldron.
Finch, Rotherfield and Hurst all ended middle-earth – all capable of beating any team in the league, but not enough consistency to keep up with free-flowing scorers. All need a couple of ‘stars’ capable of dominating games or hammering 20 goals a season before Premier football comes back, but will always “surprise” the big hitters, even if it actually isn’t a surprise…(if that makes sense? We think it does and we’re the only ones we care about, so deal with it).
We tipped Webb’s Warriors at the start of the term, but with Webb leaving for pastures new mid-season, club legend Burrows re-took the Cookham Dean Ressie reigns in a difficult season. With the First team spraying around talent like a fox in our driveway (one in particular has a habit of wetting the doormat, quite disturbing actually), the Ressies found 18/19 tricky, never finding any run of form as all others around them did. To have a top scorer on 6 – David Reading – perhaps highlights the issue; we can’t think of a season when Dean were so low on goals, normally synonymous with attacking play. With so much ability in their bulging squad, we see next season as a Champions League term.
Eldon disappointed in the league but excelled in the Cups, reaching the Intermediate Cup Final in the B&B, an incredible effort! Yet ill-discipline and the loss of some star players in August to Aldermaston among others, Celtic need to hoop a few new talents and Bhoy themselves for next term; one that may include D2 football.
While trailing the pack like a Giraffe-clothed 80-year old in the London Marathon, White Eagles must be applauded. In finishing a distant 3rd last term in D2, they took the challenge of D1 and hit 19 of their 20 games with effort. Struggles come with losing every week and a 3-week spell was needed to re-group and recollect in Feb, but the lads came back out and a couple of decent displays in March saw a 2nd win over Eldon and a good display at Rotherfield, only losing out on a draw after an 86th min Field winner. So, take a wodka on us gents, thank you for taking up the challenge. We hope you enjoy next term a little more.
(and seeing White Eagles in a Reading bar in November at 2am after a 5-0 loss, going mashup to some bang bangy music was incredible, top bunch of lads!)
So what a season! Newbury hoovering up W’s like Facebook do lawsuits and a series of challengers, all playing exciting football with young squads. D1 is a good Div y’na, be very interesting next season.
Let’s take a peek at some awards. And remember, we’ve made a lot of all this up, so you can’t be angry. We’re a bit like Tottenham Hotspur…we promise a lot, start off well, show some real quality, then BOTTLE IT EVERY SEASON BECAUSE WE’RE TOTTENHAM HAHAHAH.
Drumroll please minion number one….
Team of the Season
Hard to argue with a team that lost just one league game, made the County Cup semi-final and were deep into the Reading & League cup comps as well. Yes, the league was expected. But there are some strong teams that needed beating, and they did. The Champs take the Crown here. Bring the tinnies…
As above, Langers’ Lads were strong favs so instead we eye 2nd & 3rd spot for this one. MTFC came second bottom last term, yet flew through this campaign, playing some awesome football on the carpet. Add a Maidenhead Cup Semi & these lads were head and shoulders over 17/18. Yet Westwood’s young Reserves also over-performed, ending 3rd, winning a cup & making another Cup final. Wow. Plus they were 8th last term. This is close, but being the only team to beat the Champs in the league, we’ll send this one to Maidenhead.
Eldon Celtic were awesome in the County Cup, ending as Semi finalists, yet ended relegated in D1 after a miserable league campaign. From 5th last term, playing some of the slickest football in the Div, to 10th isn’t great.
But our “winners” are Cookham Dean Ressies – after ending 3rd, just 1 win from the 17/18 title, to finish 9th will be seen as a disappointment, especially after a great opening day win. Too much talent at this club to have these lads near the foot; we expect a much-improved term next year.
Fair Play to Fair Play
White Eagles had a decent record and we love the fact they fielded sides (almost) each week despite a miserable term, well done fellas. The Cookham & Finch boys are always welcoming post-match over a beer, love that. But the league handed Maidenhead the Fair Play award in December, the 3rd time in 5 periods they’ve collected the Nice tag. We also hear about support to Finch for an odd disciplinary matter, nice touch.
One side features heavily here, our Entertainers…we have to name MTFC’s 1-0 over the Champs (30mins with 10-men) as it’s the only game Newbury lost. Town also threw down a marker with a 7-0 win over Westwood Ressies, but the return fixture saw Wood smash the in-form MTFC 3-1, arguably a better result. A superb 4-4 draw between Town and Finch, the hosts needing a 94th min equaliser was well discussed down the pub after (in good spirits we add, some ref debate there too!).
We have to mention White Eagles 2-0 away March win over Eldon, only the 2nd win for them during a horrible term. YMCA Rapids 4-0 demolition of the in-form Wood side in April was a massive result, along with Hurst’s 2-2 draw with Champs Newbury. Those Champs also took apart a strong YMCA side 8-0 in late April in a show of strength, an awesome display.
But, there was one tie that was better than all. And we got to see it first-hand. Back in September, Maidenhead hosted Imaan at Bisham and what a game, what a display! With Town 2-0 up after 20mins, Imaan put in arguably the best half of football we’ve seen in years. With Isaac Sedu grabbing one back, Lions were 2-1 at the break. Then Sedu went goal-crazy, bagging another 3 in a 2nd half blitz that blew Town away. At 4-2, Town bagged a late goal to keep it interesting, but Sedu grabbed another, his and Imaan’s 5th, to go 5-3. There was time for another Town late goal to make it 5-4 and so so nervy for the Lions, but they held on for an incredible 5-4 win. Wow. Just wow. Game of the season, no doubt.
‘What You Up To’ of the Year
We’ve picked up Eldon & Cookham, but this one is easy. Before Xmas, Imaan were magical. We saw first-hand some of the attacking, fast, clinical football and wonderful goals. Unbeaten in their first 14 (inc cup) with 11 wins. After a Xmas hammering v rivals Maidenhead Town, their season fell off a cliff, just 2 league wins! We can only ask, ‘what you up to?’. Shame this as we saw a three-way title race, just not to be.
The Aly-Us ‘Follow Me’ Award
(this is tenuous, a quality US House track, the ‘Full Intention Club’ mix is the one to search, incredible)
We all know why most of us look at the internet. Yes we do. Don’t lie! It IS for that. We know your other halves don’t know, that’s ok! Checking the new sheds on the B&Q website is heavenly! But when you get the chance, visit Twitter and follow this lot;
Imaan Lions – on top of all things TVPL and further afield, always msg win lose or draw and supportive of all local football
Newbury – if only to watch their incredible hard work to get a new ground sorted…always offering opinons on matchdays as well
Reading YMCA – now hosting the results of the Ressies and plenty of club news; again, keen to see what next term brings!
Maidenhead Town FC – always active and sometimes overly comprehensive love when they win. Expect peak in Sept around their massive charity day
Rotherfield – love watching this account through the season. Never again to be called ‘underdogs’…these boys are solid, as is there online presence!
We are running out of funny ways to remind you all but please don’t get angry at our views. We love you all like a fat kid love cake and just read websites and stuff to get all this lark written. So, if you are angry, or even the fox that visits us 4 times a week, please don’t wet our doormat.
Come see us at @thamesvalleyPL if you don’t watch already. We’re planning to be even more active next season with the addition of a fourth minion!