The new season is finally here! In just a matter of days the 2019/20 Football Season kicks off all over the country and here in Gloucestershire it’s no different. As always, Severn Sport are here to cast their eyes over the teams to watch and predicting the fate of our sides.
This season however, for the first time ever we are joined by Gloucestershire Live’s Jon Palmer in providing the ultimate preview for the new season.
As well as looking at the Southern League Division One South all the way down to the Gloucestershire Northern Senior Leagues, Palmer will be looking at what to expect from Cheltenham Town, Ryan will be casting his verdict on Forest Green and Kelsey will be assessing Gloucester City ahead of their first season back in the National League North.
So let’s get started.
In the Southern League this season we have all of Cirencester Town, Cinderford Town, Evesham United and Slimbridge. After last season’s dramatic play-off race, both the Centurions and the Foresters will be looking to build on their finishes last term.
Evesham would have been disappointed over the way in which they fell away and reacted by making changes on the field and in the dugout.
Slimbridge have strengthened well and have an air of optimism going into the new campaign. The Swans have had a good pre-season and look sharp.
JP: Cinderford Town – Cinderford lost striker Richard Greaves to Westfields, but I am expecting Ethan Moore to fire them to the title for a second time after his heroics in 2015/16. Andy Hannah, Marley Thomas and Kye Simpson will all be useful additions to what was already a very strong squad, who reached the play-off final last term.
After the ridiculous situation of going into the play-offs knowing they could not win promotion and also the Gloucester Senior Cup cancellation, I am predicting Cinderford to take out all their frustrations on the rest of the division and finish top of the pile.
RB: All eyes will be on Cinderford Town, especially locally. I think the brand of football that Paul Michael has his side playing is attractive and effective, a deadly combination. An incredible run after Christmas last season took them into the play-offs and despite the off the field politics, the Foresters went to free-scoring Cirencester Town and played with the heart and spirit we have come accustomed to at the Causeway.
They have strengthened in key areas and in Ethan Moore could have the perfect fairy tale at their mercy.
KDM: I’ll make it a full house and go with Cinderford Town as well. In my opinion they’re Gloucestershire’s best chance of success in that league and their squad has all the components they need to go on and mount a serious challenge for the title.
Team to watch
JP: Basingstoke Town
RB: Cirencester Town…a season that will surely go one way or another.
KDM: Slimbridge – how they start will set them up for the rest of the year.
Player to watch
JP: Ethan Moore (Cinderford Town)
RB: Joel White (Slimbridge)
KDM: Tommy Ouldridge (Cirencester Town)
What a season in the Hellenic Premier last term. With both Brimscombe & Thrupp and Bishops Cleeve involved in the title race on the final weekend and both Tuffley Rovers and Longlevens nearly falling short and suffering relegation at the other.
This term all six sides (the four above and Fairford Town & Lydney Town) will be looking to improve on their positions last season and in particular Brimscombe and Cleeve will be hoping to be in the title mix again.
RB: All eyes will be on the Herefordshire sides coming into both the Premier and Division One West and for me Westfields are the ones to catch. With Richard Greaves and Harvey Rivers in their ranks they have a talented squad.
JP: Westfields have switched from the Midland League Premier Division and they have made some impressive signings, so I expect them to thrive in the Hellenic League.
KDM: Again as the others have said it’s Westfields who should be coming out on top in this league. They’ve built a squad more than capable of doing it.
Team(s) to watch
RB: I think locally Fairford Town could spring a few surprises, especially if they can get Connor Thompson firing on all cylinders. Elsewhere, it will be interesting to see how the young squads at both Longlevens & Tuffley Rovers will fair after flirting with relegation last season.
JP: Bishops Cleeve and Brimscombe & Thrupp will remain Gloucestershire’s top two in the division, but I am expecting Fairford Town to finish higher up the table after ending up 13th last term.
KDM: I don’t think Brimscombe & Thrupp will quite be able to match what they did last season, however I’ll be delighted for them if they do. Fairford Town are realistically the ones to keep your eyes on this season as their squad is definitely strong enough to push into the top eight.
Player to watch
RB: Brad Martin (Longlevens)
JP: Richard Greaves (Westfields)
KDM: Connor Thompson (Fairford Town)
Hellenic Division One West
The Hellenic Division One West is an incredible division in prospect this season, for us locally mainly. With 7 of the 16 teams hailing from the county, Gloucestershire will be watching the division closely.
Cheltenham Saracens went close last year and will be one of the favourites again, Newent Town and Cirencester Development will be looking to build on last season, whilst the new quartet of Bourton Rovers, Moreton Rangers, Stonehouse Town and Shortwood United will be looking to make an impact.
JP: Cheltenham Saracens. Saracens narrowly missed out on promotion in 2018/19 and they look strong enough to go all the way this time around. With players like Harlie Price, Adam Loveridge, Kai Mahon and Mike Oliver, they have quality all over the pitch and Jordan Bryan is the jewel in the crown.
RB: Similar to the Premier Division, the unknown of some of the sides moving across into the Hellenic League may be too great for the rest of the division. I think Malvern Town have built a very good squad and are capable of taking the title.
KDM: Cheltenham Saracens have the potential to put some teams to the sword this season and if they can do it consistently enough, I can’t see why they won’t be winning that league.
Team(s) to watch
JP: Moreton Rangers & Malvern Town
RB: Moreton Rangers & Stonehouse Town
KDM: Stonehouse Town.
Player to watch
JP: Jordan Bryan (Cheltenham Saracens)
RB: Liam Gale (Stonehouse Town)
KDM: Kai Mahon (Cheltenham Saracens)
Gloucestershire County League
With all the goings on in the leagues above, this season’s County League season could be one of the most competitive, in particular of recent years.
There has been change at a number of clubs, including Frampton United, Gala Wilton and Sharpness, whilst Quedgeley Wanderers and Hardwicke will be amongst the rest of the Gloucester contingent looking to get one over on their Bristolian counterparts.
JP: Frampton United
RB: AEK Boko
KDM: Frampton United
Team(s) to watch
JP: Sharpness & Ruardean Hill Rangers
RB: Gala Wilton & Hardwicke
KDM: Hardwicke & AEK Boko
Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Division One
After a three way title battle that seemed to last the final third of the season, sides like Chalford and Brockworth Albion have improved over the summer and will be looking to challenge again.
The 2017/18 Champions Charlton Rovers will be looking to regain their crown after falling away last season. Watch out for sides like Taverners, who have introduced a new U18s side this season.
JP: Charlton Rovers
KDM: Brockworth Albion
Team(s) to watch
RB: Brockworth Albion & Longlevens Reserves
JP: Woolaston & Cheltenham Civil Service
Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Division Two
Division Two is one of the most open leagues going into the new season. With all of the top 5 being promoted from last term, the points difference between the rest of the sides was practically non existent.
Of those who have come into the league, Andoversford, Kings Langley and Charfield look best suited to emulate Cheltenham Civil Service, who secured their second promotion in two seasons last term.
RB: Frampton United Reserves
KDM: Kings Langley
Teams to watch
JP: Smiths Barometrics & Charfield
RB: Kings Langley & Andoversford
KDM: Charfield & Frampton United Reserves
So what of the ‘big 3’ in the county? Well, between us we have taken a look at Cheltenham Town, Forest Green Rovers, Gloucester City ahead of the big kick-off – starting with Jon Palmer assessing Cheltenham Town’s credentials.
JP: Pre-season performances and results have been disappointing overall, with no wins and at least two goals conceded in every friendly. But with some further signings late on, I expect the Robins to improve on last season’s 16th placed finish as Michael Duff prepares for his first full season in charge.
He will have them well organised, competitive and strong at home. I do not expect a promotion challenge, but I also do not think they will be facing another relegation battle. Former Brighton midfielder Rohan Ince looks an excellent signing and Luke Varney remains a class act with his 37th birthday approaching, but much may depend on how quickly Cheltenham can get front man Reuben Reid fit and firing.
Predicted finish: 12th.
RB: Forest Green Rovers came very close last season to securing promotion through the play-offs and whilst they didn’t achieve that milestone, they cemented themselves as the best team in Gloucestershire at this moment in time.
A lot is said of Rovers’ off the field impact and their charismatic owner, but looking at their squad they have strengthened in key areas. I personally like the signing of Matt Mills, bringing him back to England after a stint in India, and think he will bring in some much needed experience to bolster an already solid squad.
Predicted finish: 6th
KDM: One of the most important things for Gloucester City this season is stability. Over the last few seasons it is something they have lacked due to off the field changes at the club- so first things first they need to get settled.
On the pitch they have added proven quality in Marlon Jackson and Jennison Myrie-Williams, as well as adding fan favourite Fabien Robert permanently.
The Tigers are in the North once again and it is as competitive as ever. I don’t expect a miracle but I don’t see them as relegation fodder.
Predicted finish: 13th
And breathe. There we have it, the teams to watch and sides and players expected to do well.
The big kick-off is just days away and you can catch the latest fixtures, results and news right here throughout the season.