Revisited: The Ultimate 2019/20 Gloucestershire Football Season Preview

Just under 10 months ago now we were all filled with hope and ambition ahead of the 2019/20 football season and after the wet weather of the New Year saw a global pandemic, meaning the season was definitely one to remember.

In August 2019 both Ryan and Kelsey were joined by Gloucestershire Live’s Cheltenham Town reporter Jon Palmer to cast our eyes over teams and players to watch from Cheltenham Town and Forest Green Rovers in League Two, all the way down to Division Two of the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League. So how did we get on? Let’s take a look.

Cheltenham Town were the last Gloucestershire side to see their season end after making the League Two play-offs. Finishing 4th and being the in-form side at the point the season was suspended will be a kick in the teeth somewhat as the Robins would have fancied their chances at automatic promotion.

In the preview, Jon predicted a 12th placed finish for the Robins but interestingly said about manager Michael Duff “he will have them well organised, competitive and strong at home,” Duff was clearly listening!

Ryan took on casting the eye over Forest Green Rovers and tipped them for a top 6 finish, but what unfolded was that Forest Green simply lost too many matches. Losing as many as winning (13) would always make it difficult to launch another play-off push. They ended up 10th and 9 points off the play-offs.

In the National League North, Kelsey took a look at Gloucester City and it can be summed up by his opening line, “One of the most important things for Gloucester City this season is stability.” A mid-season managerial departure and subsequent slump in and then out of a relegation battle wasn’t ideal, but the future is bright for City ahead of the return to Meadow Park.

In November James Rowe was appointed Gloucester City manager and looked to build a young and promising squad

All three of us backed Cinderford Town for the title in the Southern League Division One South, but whilst the title push didn’t really appear they were good value for another play-off run. At the time of suspension they were four points off the play-offs with up to two games in hand over the sides above them.

Plus with no distractions after a good FA Trophy run, you can’t help but feel that Cinderford would have gone close.

Interestingly the two Severn Sport boys named Cirencester Town and Slimbridge as their sides to watch respectively and Kelsey rightly said that the Swans needed a good start to shape their season and was spot on.

Butler said this line about Cirencester, “…a season that will surely go one way or another.” A managerial departure and period of uncertainty with outgoings on the pitch before John Brough came in to steady the ship, take Ciren to the Southern League Cup final and finishing the highest Gloucestershire side in the league…not a bad start!

Jon’s player to watch was Ethan Moore at Cinderford Town and unfortunately another knee injury saw his season cut short!

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In the Hellenic Premier all three of us backed Westfields as the team to beat and at the time of suspension no-one had beaten them in the league. They were 13 points clear with 10-14 games left for them and the sides below and whilst it wasn’t mathematically over, they were likely champions.

Again, all three of us pointed out that Fairford Town would be one of the sides to watch in the league. After improving year upon year in the division, the signings put them in a great position to challenge. Ending in 3rd it would have interesting to see how close they could have got to the leaders.

Ryan also named Longlevens and Tuffley Rovers as teams to watch due to their young squads and both ended the season in strong positions, with Levens on course for their highest ever league finish in 6th and Rovers in 15th but putting a strong run together.

Players-wise we all got it spot on again really. Ryan backed Brad Martin at Longlevens and he scored 27 goals and finished second in the scoring charts. Martin was one of the key factors in a history making season at Saw Mills.

Kelsey was all about Connor Thompson at Fairford and it was Thompson’s goals that helped propel Fairford into the title picture early on before departing for the US.

Jon focused on former Cinderford man Richard Greaves at Westfields and 26 goals later it isn’t hard to see why. A great job from all three of us.

Brad Martin’s return along with the season Harry Emmett had helped fire Longlevens up the table

Dropping down into the Hellenic Division One West and both Kelsey and Jon backed Cheltenham Saracens to win the division. Their title chase was spoiled by the bad weather at the turn of the year making it a very stop/start season for them, but having played as many as 6 games less than some sides above them meant that it was a season of what ifs in the end.

Ryan followed the theme set in the Hellenic Premier by backing Malvern Town to take the crown. The Herefordshire sides were set out to try and dominate the league and Malvern were top at the point of suspension by a point from Hereford Pegasus and eight points from Hereford Lads Club back in 3rd.

Teams to watch wise Jon and Ryan both spoke about Moreton Rangers in their first season in the higher division, with Ryan also mentioning Stonehouse Town as did Kelsey for that reason. Ending up 10th and 11th respectively should see them learn from a tough season and put them in a better position going forward for the experience.

Both Kelsey and Jon tipped Frampton United for the title in the Gloucestershire County League and they were definitely in the hunt. Frampton were in a battle with Wick but the latter had two games in hand. It would have gone down to the final games and really we were robbed of an exciting title fight.

Jon named Sharpness as one of his sides to watch and an eye-catching 3rd place (and level on points with 2nd) finish at suspension is great going for the side who had won the GNSL the season before. A great first season in the division.

Ryan went with Gala Wilton as a side to watch and they were definitely that. Starting like a freight train, Gala went goal crazy early on in the season and ended up 5th after a bad run before bouncing back. Much better than their near relegation the season before.

Butler also went with one of Kelsey’s teams to watch in Hardwicke. With some experienced players in their ranks it was a shock to see them bottom and winless after a bad start, but a great recovery took place and they finished level on points with Gala and ended the season in 6th.

Frampton United finished the season top of the County League in manager Josh Loveridge’s first season in charge

The Gloucestershire Northern Senior League have cleared their records so this will be written based on memory!

Ryan backed Chalford for the Division One title and they were right in the fight with the likes of English Bicknor at the top. Chalford had games in hand and would have fancied their chances for sure.

Kelsey went with Brockworth Albion, who again were right up there after extending their unbeaten run from last season with a strong start.

Jon picked 2017/18 champions Charlton Rovers and they once again never really featured outside of the top 6 for most of the season. A tip of the hat to Jon as well for his teams to watch of Woolaston and Cheltenham Civil Service, who both thrived in Division One having been promoted.

Jon also was the only one to back Andoversford for the title in Divison Two. Whilst it wasn’t over, they ended the season top and were looking on course for back-to-back titles.

Kelsey backed Kings Stanley to go close to the title and they did, finishing 2nd and pushing Andoversford all the way. Both sides were Ryan’s teams to watch.

Overall we weren’t a million miles away with most predictions and teams/players to watch really. Obviously we reflect on the season as one that was ruined by the weather and then Covid-19 and will be a season to remember either way.

It seems we are set for a 5th September start for the 2020/21 season so we cannot wait to get back together with Jon and cast our eye for the new, exciting season!

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Cover photo and images of Longlevens and Frampton United provided by Brian Rossiter. Please view his amazing photos on his Flickr page – or on Twitter @BrianRossiter1