Here at Severn Sport one of our hallmarks is our annual season preview, where Matt, Kelsey and Ryan do their best at predicting who will win what in the upcoming domestic and continental competitions.
But we hear what you’re saying: why is there no designated local football preview? Well, loyal Severn Sport fan, look no further as we proudly present to you the first ever Severn Sport Local Football Season Preview.
If you’ve never seen one of our season previews before, here’s a very brief rundown of how it works – it’s all quite simple.
Matt, Kelsey and Ryan have all been given a series of categories that they have chosen predictions for. These range all the way from who is the team to watch down to who is the team who has the most to lose this season.
The boys will then review their picks at the end of the season to see who was closest and who was furthest from the mark. If previous years are anything to go by, you can expect this to be a pretty accurate representation of the local football season to come.
Anyway, enough of that, let’s get into it.
NB – Picks for each person are denoted by the first letter of their first name only. M = Matt, K = Kelsey, R = Ryan.
Our first category is one that we’ve already mentioned and it is the Team to watch. With so many teams to choose from, you’d expect there to an array of opinions on show.
M: Tuffley Rovers have been gradually improving over the last few season both on and off the pitch. Ground improvements have Glevum Park ready for promotion and with a good squad of young and experienced players they’ll be ones to watch out for.
K: If you go for anyone other than Forest Green Rovers it’s foolish. Their first ever season in the Football League, bags of money behind them, wanting to build a new stadium. FGR are an ambitious club and it’ll be interesting to see how far Dale Vince’s money can take them.
R: After seeing Cinderford Town in pre-season they look pretty good. Paul Michael has created a very good outfit down there and they will turn over some teams especially at home.
Football is a team sport, obviously, but occasionally you get individuals that have the ability to turn a season on its head. There are certain things expected of these players, which is why the boys have all picked their player to watch.
M: Ethan Moore signed for Gloucester City last season from Cinderford but missed the whole season after tearing his ACL before getting in to any league action. In pre-season he’s been looking sharp and scoring goals and it will be interesting to see how well he does at National League South level.
K: Matt has chosen Ethan Moore, but my eyes are on Karnell Chambers at Gloucester City. I said when he signed that it kind of went under the radar a bit, a la Zack Kotwica’s signing last season and look how that turned out. So far he’s done the business in pre-season and Gloucester fans will be hoping he can do it week in, week out.
R: Cinderford have brought in Declan Morley-Lynne from Lydney and even though he only played for a half on the pre-season tour he tormented the back line with his strength, agility and aptitude. Speaking to some of the defenders in the local Hellenic League teams they are glad to see the back of him.
Alan Hansen famously once said “you can’t win anything with kids,” but in Gloucestershire there are a lot of talented youngsters out there. To that end, here are the picks for young player to watch. The qualifying factor is you have to be 22 years old or under.
M: I’ve gone for Sam Turl, a former Gloucester City youth player. after watching him as part of our preseason tour as Slimbridge hosted his former club, he looked very good, linking up well with midfield and forward players, one to watch expect him to be playing at a higher level soon.
K: Keiran Thomas burst onto the scene at Gloucester City last season, scooping the Players Player and Supporters Player of the Season awards. Now, having been made team captain, how does he react with the pressure and expectation on his shoulders?
R: Will Tunnicliff at Gloucester City has impressed me on the pre-season tour and looks capable on the ball. He certainly doesn’t shy out of a challenge either so will win the hearts of the fans quickly. He’s gone on loan to Bishop’s Cleeve for the season but this can only be good for his game and I’m excited for what he can do.
Some players arrive in non-league football with something to show for themselves, whether that be just coming off the back of an injury or having been released from the Football League. With such a talent pool to choose from, who is the player with the most to prove?
M: The new man between the sticks for Gloucester City, Alex Harris, has a lot to live up to replacing Jasbir Singh. A few nervous moments in pre-season has the fans anxious heading in to the National League South season.
K: Personally I think it has to be Ethan Moore. He’s coming off the back of nearly a year out injured, that’s practically 12 months of his career he’s lost. He has hit the ground running in pre-season and he is desperate to repay the faith given to him by Tim Harris when he signed a new contract for this season.
R: It’s got to be Mat Liddiard at Evesham for me. He made a big move to leave Cirencester Town (as their captain, no less) for a league rival so all eyes will be on him. He looked very good against Gloucester City in pre-season.
From players with something to prove, who is the team with the most to lose?
M: Cheltenham Town have struggled so far in pre-season and with a difficult 2016/17 season they don’t seem to have strengthened. Not only is Football League status at risk this season so is the title of highest ranked team in the county with Forest Green hot on their heels now competing in League 2.
K: When you look at it as a whole, Cheltenham Town stand to lose the most this year. Once the only team in Gloucestershire to have ever made it to the Football League, they’ve lost that title now Forest Green have joined them, and should they finish below the Nailsworth side, it will be a disaster for the club and the fans, in my opinion.
R: Gloucester City. I saw this in terms of momentum. Over the last 2 years City have been building on the pitch for the return to Meadow Park. They now have some good players but a move to the new league adds pressure. Their fans are expectant, how do they deal with it?
Football brings a high turnover of players, especially the lower down you go, so we asked the boys who they think will be the new signing of the season.
M: County journeyman Lee Smith has dropped another couple of leagues for the 2017/18 season as he signs for Fairford Town. A good signing for the Hellenic Premier new boys with the experience Smith has.
K: I think Henry Birkett at Slimbridge is a quality addition for the Swans. The former Tuffley Rovers man has pace and trickery in his arsenal and in their game with Gloucester City in pre-season looked very lively.
R: I’ve gone with Mat Liddiard at Evesham again. I think it is a wonderful signing and he is a player who has caught my eye for years. He is the potential difference maker between promotion and another season of nearly making it.
Here at Severn Sport we cover a lot of local teams, with six of them being in one league. So of that mini-league of teams, which one will be the highest placed local team in the Southern League West?
M: As Ryan Butler has included Evesham in his local tips I’m going to as well simply because I can’t see any Gloucestershire team finishing higher than them. They have a good squad with the likes of Mann, Williams and Fahy and will learn on their mistakes after last seasons playoff defeat to Salisbury.
K: I think Evesham will go one better than they did last season and finally achieve promotion this year. They’ve signed ridiculously well in the shape of Greg Peel and Mat Liddiard, but also kept the majority of last year’s team. Expect big things.
R: I’m going for a bit of shock in Cinderford Town. Not everyone has their eyes on The Foresters but they can turn some heads.
Our final category focuses on the three highest placed teams we cover. Cheltenham Town, Forest Green Rovers and Gloucester City. We’ve asked the lads for their predicted finish for these three sides.
M: Cheltenham – I think they will struggle as I said earlier on, a lot at stake for them. 23rd.
Forest Green – Newly promoted teams usually do well in their first season at football league level, I think Mark Cooper knows what it takes to see them comfortably safe. 15th.
Gloucester City – A new division for City and I don’t think it’ll be as easy as some fans make out. Get the goalkeeper and defence sorted and Ethan Moore firing on all cylinders this could go higher. 9th.
K: Cheltenham – I think they could struggle this season, I really do. The signings they’ve made don’t jump out at me at all and I think Gary Johnson’s side are in for a rough old slog. 20th.
Forest Green – There’s a lot of expectancy surrounding them this year and they could turn a few heads, especially with the resources they have. 8th.
Gloucester City – Like Forest Green, fans expect big things from Gloucester this year, as do I. They’ve kept almost all of last year’s team but complimented it with good additions. I think Tim Harris’ side will sneak into the play-offs. 7th.
R: Cheltenham – Mid table at best. They had a mixed pre-season and haven’t impressed me in recruitment so I’m going 16th.
Forest Green – Will be an unknown entity in League Two and I think will overtake Cheltenham without achieving much. 12th.
Gloucester City – Everyone expects City to be up there due to the gulf in class between the North and South. I don’t see them having it their own way and they will have to adapt to a new home again. 9th
There you have all of our predictions for the local football season 2017/18. Next week, Ryan Butler will be heading up the domestic and continental competition preview, so be sure to check back for that.
Keep your eyes locked onto Severn Sport for our biggest and most comprehensive season of local coverage to date.