I am bringing back the monthly blog post to keep things ticking over on the website and to express my views and thoughts on all things grassroots football in Gloucestershire and the first post back in this section is all about the fixture pile up…particularly the Hellenic League.

Firstly, I feel sorry for the Hellenic League. In fact, not just the Hellenic, but all of the leagues operating at steps 5 and 6.

February has produced one of the wettest of recent times, which has come after the usual cold and wet December and January that we tend to see.

What this has meant is sides have gone weeks on end without playing and the usual backlog of fixtures has grown for a number of teams.

The Hellenic tends to get criticised for the way they schedule games, the amount of league cups they run throughout a season and making the schedule heavy at the start of the season.

Why do they do this? Quite simply, they do it to try and prevent situations like those of Brimscombe & Thrupp and Worcester City.

These two sides have 11 and 10 games left, respectively, and they will need to play them all within the next month.

Brimscombe are now scheduled to play their last four games of the season within a four day period. They have a trip to Lydney Town on 9 April, Roman Glass St George at home on 10 April, a trip to Corsham Town on 11 April and then head to Highworth on 13 April to conclude their campaign.

On the face of it people will moan and groan at a “typical Hellenic League” situation. But you have to look above them for this situation being here.

Ollie Bayliss, the host of the BBC’s Non-League Show and a reliable source for all things non-league football, tweeted the below at the start of March:

“The FA has written to leagues at Steps 5&6 telling them there will be no extension to the season. (Games that don’t involve clubs with a possibility of promotion or relegation may be rescheduled to no later than 4th May.)”

Visit https://www.facebook.com/mortgageadvicegloucestershire for your financial planning needs

Brimscombe’s issue is that they can still make the play-offs and are scheduled to play a number of sides also in the running for the play-offs, so the Hellenic League cannot extend the season as the play-offs are due to be played in the second half of April.

In a weird way, Brimscombe will have to lose their next few games to have a chance of seeing an extension – BUT even then, Lydney Town are the only side who aren’t currently in the play-off picture, so that would be the only game that could be pushed back.

It is an impossible situation for the Hellenic League and one they have tried to avoid every year, although it cannot always be helped.

This isn’t an issue that is only affecting sides in the Hellenic League, though. Football In Berkshire posted a story this week discussing a similar issue for Reading City in the Combined Counties League – where they have to play a whopping 16 games and can still reach the play-offs themselves, so like Brimscombe, are unlikely to get an extension.

Sam Prior’s men have suffered back-to-back defeats and have seen a number of players suffer injuries – meaning Prior and a number of the U18s have made up the bench for the most part.

The Lilywhites are set to play Wednesday/Saturday/Tuesday before games on Good Friday and Easter Monday, before a trip to Slimbridge two days later.

Worcester City face a similarly stacked schedule, with the second leg of their Floodlit Cup final in midweek and a two-legged FA Vase Semi Final to play. It means that at the time of writing, City still have four league games to schedule in before the end of April.

The league’s hands are tied it seems, so maybe the FA need to rethink their communication to the leagues.

Strap yourselves in for a frantic end to the 2023/24 Hellenic League season!

READ MORE: Check out the full list of results in and around Gloucestershire from Saturday right here

1 thought on “Butler’s Blog: Why I feel sorry for the Hellenic League

  1. Great coverage Ryan, my son Ben who played today against Filton Fc messaged me to tune in to your show.
    Perfect reception in south of spain and excellent commentary from yourself and Sam.
    Shame i was on hols but listening to the game was absolutely brilliant for me
    Thanks again and will say hello after Summer Break at a game.👍

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *