The Ultimate 2020/21 Gloucestershire Football Season Preview

It’s that time of year again! It is time for the ULTIMATE Gloucestershire Football preview for the 2020/21 season and this time we have gone bigger.

Well, it’s the same format as last year but excitingly we have made a new recruit for the preview. Yeah that’s right, we went out and did our transfer business early and joining Ryan and Kelsey from right here at Severn Sport and Gloucestershire Live’s Jon Palmer, we have former editor of the Stroud News and Journal Ash Loveridge taking part in the preview post!

Ash will bring his experience and knowledge to provide his insight into players and teams to watch as well as his picks for league winners too.

So let’s get started with the Southern League teams.

Southern League Division One South

As it has been the case for a few seasons now we have the four sides in the division, Cirencester Town, Cinderford Town, Slimbridge and Evesham United.

Going into the 2020/21 season it has been all change for Cinderford Town with Stephen Cleal now at the helm after Paul Michael headed for Yate Town.

John Brough is taking on his first full season as Cirencester Town boss and Neil Hunt is about to begin his first campaign in charge of Evesham United.

For Slimbridge they have made changes on and off the field after the loss of Assistant manager Alex Lumsden and top scorer Sol Wanjau-Smith.

Winner

JP: Cirencester Town. John Brough has put together a strong squad at the Corinium Stadium and they were on course for promotion before last seaon was abandoned.

RB: It is hard to look past Cirencester Town or Evesham United from the local clubs for me – but I expect Thatcham Town to be up there once again.

AL: Slimbridge‘s summer recruitment policy has caught the eye and I expect them to be Gloucestershire’s top dogs. The Swans have made a raft of eye-catching signings, including midfielder Joe Stokes and striker Jay Malshanskyi who cut his footballing teeth at Forest Green and tasted Southern Premier football with Weston-super-Mare. 

KDM: Evesham United will win the league this season. They’ve signed well all over the pitch and have got players with proven quality at that level.

Team(s) to watch
JP: Evesham United

AL: Melksham Town – with such a first-class stadium, the Wiltshire outfit will be knocking on the promotion door.

RB: Last year I said Cirencester Town were to be the team to watch and said the season could go one way or another and it is a repeat from me. They laid a foundation last season, but can they build on it?

KDM: If Evesham don’t win the league then I think John Brough will take Cirencester Town very close. I’d be expecting at least a play-off finish for Ciren this season.

Player(s) to watch

JP: Callum Ebanks (Evesham United)

RB: For experience it is Brad Gray at Cirencester Town as he can elevate them to that next level, elsewhere I will be looking out for Tristan Haswell back in the Southern League at Cinderford Town and also Danny King at Slimbridge.

KDM: Keeping it local this year on the Southern League and my player to watch is Danny King at Slimbridge. We have seen his performances during pre-season first hand and he will be a real problem for Southern League defences.

AL: Joe Stokes (Slimbridge)

Danny King has impressed during pre-season and is Kelsey’s player to watch. Photo copyright with Neil Phelps

Hellenic Premier

Next up we look at the Hellenic Premier, where last season saw Fairford Town launch a title challenge and were in the top 3 for pretty much the whole season.

Longlevens were a surprise package and were on course to finishing 6th and achieving their highest ever finish in the league before the season was suspended.

This season there have been managerial changes at Tuffley Rovers and Bishops Cleeve, with the latter looking to put together a squad capable of challenging once again.

Winner

RB: The pressure will be on Westfields to replicate last season and I expect it to be closer this term, so I will appease the guys from the East slightly and say Binfield.

AL: I’m tipping Sam Prior’s Brimscombe & Thrupp to hit the straps and return to the form which saw them claim runners-up spot in 2019. Harlie Price is a real marquee signing for the Lilywhites and the fantastic team spirit at the London Road outfit will prove to be pivotal in any title run-in.

JP: Westfields were runaway leaders and unbeaten before the pandemic hit, so they will once again be the team to beat.

KDM: Westfields are the side who should’ve won the title last season before the season was cancelled and they should have enough quality to pick up where they left off last term.

Team(s) to watch

RB: Brimscombe & Thrupp for me. After a difficult opening third to the season last term it saw their season written off. A good start this time round and we should see the Brimscombe of the two seasons before. I also think that Longlevens have the potential to replicate last season’s promise.

JP: Bishops Cleeve will be a real threat this season under Paul Collicutt.

KDM: I’m going with Longlevens. This side that Craig Martin has assembled is in my opinion, the best squad I’ve seen at Saw Mills since we started covering the Hellenic League properly and I’m really excited to see what they can achieve.

AL: Jody Bevan’s Fairford Town will undoubtedly give Brimscombe a run for their money and expect Tuffley Rovers to be one of the front runners.

Player(s) to watch

RB: Player-wise all eyes will be on Harry Emmett at Longlevens to continue his progression of the last 18 months. Also Harlie Price at Brimscombe is my early contender for Signing of the Season, but saying that the recent signing of Blaine Waugh by Bishops Cleeve is insanely good business. I will also throw in another name to be different from the rest of the guys and say that I think this season could be massive for Luke Merchant at Tuffley Rovers and I back him to have a good year!

AL: Harlie Price (Brimscombe)

JP: Harry Emmett (Longlevens)

KDM: Obviously we all know that all eyes will be on Harry Emmett at Longlevens after last season but I’m also excited to see how Elliot Kennedy gets on if he can get a run of games under his belt as well as Harlie Price at Brimscombe & Thrupp who has serious potential to bag a hatful of goals this year.

Luke Merchant is on Ryan’s list of players to watch in the Hellenic Premier this season. Photo copyright with Brian Rossiter

Hellenic Division One West

The Hellenic Division One West has the potential to be one of the most exciting leagues in Gloucestershire football this season. With Cheltenham Saracens building a young squad and Shortwood United that season more experienced they could be up there.

Stonehouse have had a change of manager and with Chris Burns have a man with loads of experience. Newent Town appeared in the FA Cup for the very first time and could benefit from having a brand new U18s outfit at the club.

Winner

AL: Malvern Town look to have the infrastructure to start climbing the non-league pyramid and are my tip for the top.

JP: Hereford Pegasus and Lads Club will be strong and so are Malvern Town, but I think Hereford Pegasus will edge it.

RB: 12 months on and I still think Malvern Town are the side to beat in the Division One West.

KDM: Malvern Town are the ones for me. I think they will be took strong for the rest of the division after having a year to get a feel for it.

Team(s) to watch

JP: I expect Shortwood United to mount a challenge and Cheltenham Saracens are an exciting young team.

RB: Out of the local sides it will be interesting to see how Stonehouse Town do under new management and I also expect Shortwood United to be that little bit better than last season.

KDM: I really like the look of Shortwood United and the team they have assembled so far so I will have my eyes on them, as I’m sure most people will!

AL: Cheltenham Saracens and Shortwood United will expect to be in the mix with potentially four promotion places up for grabs.

Player to watch

AL: Luke Soule (Shortwood United)

JP: 16 year old Toby Soule (Cheltenham Saracens)

RB: Tyler Weir’s experience could benefit Newent Town this season, elsewhere it’s great to see Josh Watts back involved in football at Cheltenham Saracens and Luke Soule at Shortwood United is on my list of players to watch!

KDM: I haven’t seen anyone else’s picks at all but I imagine Ryan has named Tyler Weir at Newent in amongst his picks! I’m going to go for Josh Watts at Cheltenham Saracens myself. He has had some time away from football and nothing would please me (and Ryan) more than to see him come back firing!

Visit http://www.cornellandcompany.co.uk/ for all of your financial planning and mortgage consultancy needs

Gloucestershire County League

The County League saw a hotly contested title picture last season with both Sharpness and Frampton United up there for long periods. Frampton were top when the season was suspended and will look to replicate last seasons form.

Hardwicke will be looking to continue where they left off and secure a better start than last year, whilst Quedgeley have impressed a number of people during pre-season.

Winner

JP: Sharpness

RB: Wick

AL: Frampton United

KDM: Wick

Team(s) to watch

AL: Sharpness

JP: Quedgeley Wanderers

RB: Hardwicke

KDM: Rockleaze Rangers

Despite being top when the 19/20 season was suspended, only one of our guys has backed them to win the County League this year. Photo copyright with Brian Rossiter

Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Division One

There was talk in the summer that the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League wasn’t even going to happen this year! But after the negative reaction and the GFA intervention, we are here and the new season will go ahead.

A number of sides will be looking to build on a decent season last year, with English Bicknor, Brockworth Albion, Chalford and Cheltenham Civil Service amongst those who will be targeting a title push in Division One.

Winner

RB: Chalford

JP: Chalford

KDM: Chalford

AL: Chalford

Team(s) to watch

RB: Upton St Leonards could be a surprise package for me and all eyes will be on Andoversford.

AL: English Bicknor

JP: Taverners & Cheltenham Civil Service

KDM: I’ll be keeping my eye on Brockworth Albion and Andoversford

Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Division Two

After a position was made available in the GNSL over the summer, it eventually went to Dursley Town. Undoubtedly Dursley will be the side to beat this season, but both Kings Stanley and Lydney Town Reserves pushed Andoversford last season and will be eager to do the same.

Charfield will be looking to build on a decent County Cup run where they are to play the final at the end of September and sides like Frampton United Reserves will look to kick on too.

Winner

JP: Dursley Town

RB: Dursley Town

AL: Dursley Town

KDM: Dursley Town should be too strong.

Team(s) to watch

JP: Charfield

RB: Barnwood United & Kings Stanley

KDM: Barnwood United

AL: Kings Stanley

So that is all of the picks done from the Southern League down to Division Two of the GNSL.

Now we can’t bring together Jon, Ash and Severn Sport without looking at the big three clubs in the county. Below Jon has his say on Cheltenham Town, Ash casts his eye on Forest Green and Kelsey takes a look at Gloucester City.

JP: Cheltenham Town are looking strong again and if Michael Duff continues in the same vein as he has been since taking over two years ago, they are in for another positive campaign. There are some big hitters in the division such as Bolton Wanderers, Bradford City and ambitious Salford City, but I expect the Robins to be in the play-offs at least, with an automatic promotion challenge a distinct possibility if they can replace Ryan Broom with a proven number 10 to compete with West Brom loan prospect Finn Azaz in that role.

Predicted finish: Play-offs

AL: Long-serving head coach Mark Cooper enters his fifth-year at the club with the play-offs a minimum expectation. An influx of impressive summer signings have been ushered in, but paucity in front of goal and a lack of a 20-goal striker remains the biggest talking point with Christian Doidge still to be replaced.

Predicted finish: Play-offs

KDM: Gloucester City have signed really well and they’ve got a great squad on paper. It will all depend on how they start but with the likes of Akwasi Asante, Gavin Gunning, Liam Daly and Bernard Mensah – just to name a few, they should be reaching the play-offs at a minimum.

Predicted finish: Play-offs

Former Forest Green man Gavin Gunning is one of many signings by Gloucester City as they look to mount a serious challenge in the National League North.

We didn’t want to leave Ryan out from having his final say, so with the big three looked at, below the Big Man gives us his three wants/desires for the 2020/21 season.

RB: This season there are a number of things I want to achieve personally and with Severn Sport but the three things I would love to see are

  1. One of our Southern League or Hellenic League sides winning a cup competition. We came so close last term and I convinced we would have seen it with how the cups shaped up.
  2. 100 games as a minimum. Last season I was on course to racking up nearly 120 games after collating 103 the season before. This season will be a weird one regardless but 100 games is where I want to be.
  3. The third and final thing I want to see this season is people supporting the U18s sides in the Cheltenham Youth Floodlit League. We have so many sides in and around Gloucestershire in that league and it will be an exciting league to follow and watch!

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.

Check out the first gameweek of football fixtures in and around the county for the 2020/21 season right here.