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TVPL Premier Division 18/19 – Season Review!

The last of our (informal) TVPL roundups sees us address our Premier Division. The crème de la menthe of the league, our flagship group of elite local ballers never fails to disappoint for excitement, entertainment, a bit of nause and ‘online fishing’.

The Division had its challenges this season no doubt – the loss of two local giants in Reading YMCA and WrightChoice Unity was like a bombshell to the league – but to have a title race as we did, with the level of quality that we witnessed was something to behold.

So, in a change to our normal wicked sty-lee, we’re going month by month for this one, with detail that probably is wrong…but we are doing this over a Bank Holiday weekend, amidst BBQ’s and drinking highly intoxicating cordials, so leave off, eh?

We’ll relive the race for the title which was akin to the 18/19 Premier League season; Five real contenders; for City, Liverpool, Spurs, Chelsea & Arsenal, read Marlow, Cookham, Woodcote, Mortimer & Reading YMCA (no United of course, it’s a Top 5 now guys, get over it).

Pre-season pointed at YMCA to nail a 4th consecutive title – the same strong crowd of players with experience in the management team, with Marlow pushing them all the way – a new select bunch of talent brought in by Director of Football Bernard Cavell and led by new gaffer James Pritchard. Cookham also wrung the changes; Andy Sinclair moving upstairs to oversee Pep Xaviola who came into the hotseat, along with several new local talents in August. Then, the Cote Crew, under the wing of Sam Tucker; supremely skilled by perhaps not the depth required to match the ring-leaders? However, successive 3rd and 2nd spots meant one thing; only the title would be an improvement.

But with the loss of the Young Men, we wrote this in January – “We have to go for Marlow but after a fantastic title race”…

Let’s see how it panned out…

August

Cookham opened the term well, 4 straight wins to give them the lead early doors. Marlow’s much changed (and heavily paid, wink wink) squad also opened nicely, a walkover over vs the unprepared Wokingham Sumas Ressies, then firing 8 past Richings & Berks County with just 1 in reply. The reigning Champs YMCA bagged a perfect start, beating Mortimer in the process and Woodcote also opened their term unbeaten in the warm months, sharing 6 in the only game either side didn’t win bar Mortimer’s loss to YM.

Table

Cookham         4          3          1          0          10        +6

Marlow           3          3          0          0          9          +7

YMCA              3          3          0          0          9          +6

Woodcote        3          2          1          0          7          +4

Mortimer         4          2          1          1          7          +2

 

September

Both Marlow & YM remained unbeaten but only after YMCA came back from 2-0 down to draw at Marlow in a splendid game. It left the table looking ominous; the tipped two leading the pack like Ant & Dec herding hard-up celebrities in the jungle. Was September the month that lost Dean the title? Home losses to both Westwood & Woodcote would perhaps not have happened in the form they showed months later in the term, but both games were comprehensive. Pritchard’s mob took advantage; 2 wins for the Machine, while the League cup was also attended to. Tucker’s Team also leapfrogged Dean, partly due to the 6-3 at the Manor, 4 from Jonny Adey being a shining moment in their term. Mortimer kept pace with another couple of wins, although a loss at newly promoted Richings Park – their first of the term – lost them the chance to top the league.

 

Marlow           6          5          1          0          16        +10

YMCA               6          4          2          0          14        +9

Woodcote        6          4          1          1          13        +9

Mortimer         6          4          1          1          13        +7

Cookham         7          4          1          2          13        +4

 

October

Another perfect month for the Machine, with a big statement; a 5-2 away victory over Woodcote, while Cookham again dropped points, this time against Wraysbury, leaving them trailing the top sides. Reading notched another 2 wins, but dropped points at Berks County who were picking up the tag of party poopers, a good 2-2 performance. The Adey Keep Army kept pace, also turning in a perfect month; 3 big wins out of 3, Jacob Bailey with 3 across the games. It was Cote’s turn to be as miserable as Neil Warnock after, well, anything with just a point this month, leaving them 8 behind Marlow and, while not seen then, moved them out of the title race (plus the fact we realised this will take forever if we do it like this all the way through. No offence Cote, we love you). And like the Premier League, we had three…

 

Marlow           8          7          1          0          22        +16

Mortimer         10        7          1          2          22        +13

YMCA                9          6          3          0          21        +15

Cookham         9          5          2          2          17        +5

Woodcote        8          4          2          2          14        +6

 

November

The month that changed it all. We blame Wraysbury! Following their 3-2 win over Reading YMCA, the reigning, all-conquering Champions resigned from the league. It was a bigger shock than the new ‘boy/girl’ filter on Snapchat and hit local football like the need to drive all the way to Oxon to take part in a hearing over a yellow card. Citing a lack of numbers and reduced focus, the 63-game unbeaten run ended with a thump.

It created available players, which were snapped up by the likes of Marlow, while it dramatically changed the title race to a more enticing three-way than any trip to Heffner’s place can offer and ensured the TVPL was to have a new Champ for the first time since 2015.

Cookham’s timing was impeccable; a perfect month with 3 wins including a 4-1 away trip to Mortimer, the first sign the Villagers may be struggling to keep pace. Just a point in their other Nov tie v Westwood moved them off the top for good. Dean were grinding out results, the mark of Champs. But they only had a 4-point cushion over Marlow, having played 4 games more. November saw the first dropped points for the Champs, Berks County holding to a 2-2 draw in their only league tie, another sign that County were to play a big part this term, and have a cracking season themselves.

Ting getting’ mad y’na.

Cookham         12        8          2          2          26        +10

Mortimer         11        7          2          2          23        +12

Marlow           8          7          1          0          22        +16

 

December

A huge result for Xavi’s mob as they inflicted the first loss of the Machine’s season, taking a t’rific 2-1 away win in their only Xmas period league game to wound Hitman Hurst and his collective. Yet Marlow jumped straight back on the wagon, Hurstio Augero bagging a brace in a 6-2 demolition of Young Men Haters Wraysbury. Mortimer were humbled by those Berks County poopers but a superb 7-1 over an ailing Woodley gave them hope, and 2nd spot at God’s birthday.

 

Cookham         13        9          2          2          29        +11

Mortimer         13        8          2          3          26        +17

Marlow           10        8          1          1          25        +19

 

January

A huge game in the title race ended Cookham 1-1 Marlow, but Dean stayed unbeaten, and top with two wins, including an excellent 4-0 away at the Burghs. It was Xmas all over again for Mortimer as they shell-shocked Marlow 2-0 in the first game back, a late 1st half Stef Allen brace enough to keep faith in their bid. Yet Berks County threw a spanner in the works with a superb win over the Villagers, before Marlow returned the favour, a 3-1 win avenging the earlier – and last – league loss. Sadly, we lose Mortimer from the running commentary as they didn’t win a league tie in Feb either. More on these lads later!

Now, it was the oil-rich ogliarchs Marlow hunting down the Manor Rec Reds (if you don’t get the City/Liverpool thing here, stop reading. It’s obvious).

 

Cookham         16        11        3          2          36        +16

Marlow           13        9          2          2          30        +19

Mortimer         16        9          2          5          29        +16

 

 

February

So, we now have our two-horse race. Our Messi v Ronaldo. Our Neighbour vs Home & Away. With 6 points, home and away wins (see what we’ve done!) and 6 goals for the leaders Dean gave a perfect month and saw them move 12 clear of United. Just one league game for Bernard’s Boys, a 0-0 draw over Woodcote. This was the largest gap of the season and more pressure was piled on the Machine than Amanda Holden’s makeup when she smiles.

Then Dean pulled out a masterstroke. Despite several teams seemingly not content with supping bevvies in the Dean bar (what’s that about people! If invited, always stay for a beer and a biased chat about the game!!!), Xav persuaded “Mr Newell” to raid the vault and provide for some fresh legs; Mike Rundle, Paulo Cicero, Fab Etienne, Max Alvarez-Lopera, Monay Mills-Chandler AND Tyrese Corbin-Chandler (the latter trio from the sadly departed WrightChoice Unity, more on that later too). No idea if there were enough club socks to go round, but an incredible display of intent. But would it work….?

 

Cookham         18        13        3          2          42        +22

Marlow           14        9          3          2          30        +19

 

March

Yes. Dean threw out another perfect month; 3 wins including seismic 6-2 wins over Richings Park & Sumas. It felt as if the handbrake was off; if September has seen these displays, Etienne would be supping Henny from the Cup right now. Yet, the Machine clicked into a higher gear than Keith Flint could handle; 4 huge wins with a +18 goal difference vs the bottom three sides in the division; Woodley, Reading City (twice) and Wokingham Sumas, Darren Rockall bagging a hattrick in the best of the lot, a 6-0 away win at Woodley.

All Cookham could do now was win the last game & hope Pritch’s Riches slipped up.

 

Cookham         21        16        3          2          51        +31

Marlow           18        13        3          2          42        +37

 

April

Marlow threw another 3 points on the board on April 6th, before the pivotal weekend of the 13th. While Marlow took a 2-0 over Burghfield (a huge banana skin avoided), Woodcote went and upturned the form books by defeating Dean 4-1, a James Griffiths brace ending Cookham’s season with a loss. After an incredible run of 15 unbeaten league games, dating back to September, the Dean had left their wonderful title bid open to challenge.

It now meant Marlow needed 4 points from their last 2 games to ensure the title after the best chase since my pursuit of Sarah in 6th form. Never even got a kiss. She was lovely. Lovely Sarah. Think she’s a barrister now. Great job. Oh, hang on, I mean ‘barista’ down the local Costa. Screw you Sarah. You could have had it all.

Another hard-fought 2-0 over Burghfield in their penultimate game all but ensured the title – a superior goal difference to Cookham meant only a 19-0 loss to Woodley would bag the cup for Dean’s dream-team – an excellent 4-2 win over Woodley was enough to give Pritchard’s Machine their prize, the TVPL league title!

Final Table

Marlow           22        17        3          2          54        +48

Cookham         22        16        3          3          51        +28

 

With Woodcote powering on to secure 3rd spot, and Mortimer ending with Champions League football and a Mad Stad display in the League Cup final, both can be proud to have played a part in a wonderful TVPL title race.

Indeed, Marlow’s strength this term was further shown by winning the TVPL Senior League Cup in that game vs Mortimer, along with reaching the Senior Berks & Bucks Cup Final for a 3rd consecutive season. Sadly, as the two before, the Machine fell just short, this time on pens. But a League/Cup double, along with the news they have succeeded in their application to the Hellenic League for next season shows the club stand in fine stead for the seasons ahead. Well done from all at the TVPL.

Let’s now look at the rest of the division, who perhaps feel this is all a bit “Ronaldo/Messi, what about the rest of us. Well, here you are you precious children…

A super-duper season for those nice guys at Berks County. With a 5th placed finish and some huge results during the 17/18 term. With 11 more points and moving from 10th spot, The Swords managed to take points from the Top 2, do the double over Mortimer and take 4 points from Tucker’s Team Cote. So if they can fare so well vs the big boys, why only 5th?  Only being able to win 3 on the spin at most is why (happened twice during the term, including the last 3 games) as draws and losses punctured any chance of a hot-streak that all those above them could do. Also, while it’s nice to share – not wives, speeding tickets or any drinks if you have a coldsore – only having their top scorer – Dan Money- cashed in 6 goals will need to be addressed. Still, along with a League Cup Semi, a top season for the Swords.

Westwood ended 6th and perhaps will feel they didn’t build on the 17/18 promoted campaign. Fewer wins and goals – even hitman Alex Sergent registered 3 fewer this term – meant they couldn’t live with the Top 4 this season. Yet, beating Cookham early doors, along with taking Hellenic Holyport to ET in their Cup tie again shows the ability is there, just not the consistency.

Burghfield’s first season at Step 7 proved successful, given the talent among their rivals. It didn’t look all that rosy early doors though; 5 games without a win with a couple of hammerings by WrightChoice & Wraysbury made it feel like they’d jumped out of the tikka oven, into the lav after a vindaloo. Yet a 70th min Billy Margets goal gave them a 3-2 win over Woodley at the end of October, and some parity was restored. It was after Xmas we saw the points – 1 loss in 7 gave them 16 points – and a brace of 2-0 wins in April gave the Burgh’s enough to end 7th.

Wraysbury started like a team possessed – 3 wins in their first 4 games with 19 league goals threw more questions than answers; can they sustain it? Who is this partnership of Ben White & Dean Papali, bagging 11 between them? Are the TVPL going to be right again about the cardigan thing from last season? sorts.  Sadly, like the cross-stitch from an elderly grandmother’s attempt at a jumper for a new born (yes, real life example here), they fell apart. While they may have nailed the 4th highest ‘FOR’ tally with 50, they conceded too many and lost the big games by small margins. With a few fresh ‘midfield dominators’ – think Souness, Keane, Jim Magilton – they could contest much further up the table. Always a ride with the Wrays…

The D1 Champs Richings Park perhaps wished they’d never bothered being really good in 17/18. Turn up in the Prem, lose 3 on the bounce, get battered by Marlow, Wraysbury & Cote, then go home. Great. But those chicken-wing munching, Sombrero singing Parkers are made of sterner stuff. A First Step 7 win over The Swords gave them respite, before 5 unbeaten, including a historic win over Reading YMCA in the League Cup. Nov was poor, before wins over sides beneath them kept them from danger’s door. A wonderful 8-3 over Woodley in March was a highlight; John Swift & Brad Cunningham both bagged hattys, but to lose the last 3, conceding 15 will have reminded that much work is ahead for next term. Still, a 6.5/7 out of 10 considering just their 2nd season within our ranks, well done lads, a welcome addition.

We see perhaps our ‘biggest’ 3 Premier clubs languishing at the foot. While Wokingham Emmbrook Ressies, Reading City U23 and Woodley’s second side have resources and Hellenic status’, their TVPL form shows no sign of improving. All 3 occupied the foot last term (with Taplow actually bottom) and they do so again.

Sumas put back to back wins together, beating Woodley then Wraysbury at the end of February and along with reaching the Reading Cup Semi-Final, it shouldn’t be seen as doom and gloom for a side using plenty of U18 players.

Reading City U23s drew plenty of plaudits from almost every side this term for playing attractive football, and, given the platform of youth, should be seen as a positive. Yet the TVPL is unforgiving and seasoned sides such as Marlow and Cookham will exploit any areas for development. Another just to put one ‘back to back’ together, the highlight will have been the 3-1 late Sept win over Berks County (they pop up everywhere!) or the 3-1 away score at Richings Park. Yet the performances need to turn into points next term; perhaps the withdrawal of 2 other sides will give Lawsey’s Young Lions a relegation reprieve…

Woodley propped up the table, a sight not in-keeping with the tremendous end of season display vs Marlow, where it took 2 late late late goals to distinguish the top from the bottom. A Ben Anderson brace in March to secure a 3-1 win over….you guessed it…Berks County, was the highlight result of the season, yet the Royals enjoyed a splendid Reading Cup run, reaching the final after beating Division One big-guns Imaan & Newbury. Despite a Ross Blakemore brace – ending the sides top scorer with 9, 6 in that cup run – D1 form side Westwood took the trophy on the day. Like Reading City, Woodley may benefit from 2 sides folding, leaving the division light on numbers…

While we have covered the Young Men’s fall from grace, we’d like to offer thoughts to WrightChoice Unity, who also fell this term. With so much young talent amidst the Chandler stables, we’re sure many will find good careers from local football, in part owing to the time, effort and expertise of Simon & his team. Best of luck to all those once associated with the club.

 

So, as Jay-Z said, we had 99 problems, but now we’ve finished writing all this, we’ve got one less. At least we think he said that. We’re always confused when we look at him, trying to work out how he is with Beyonce. Might have something to do with the 99 zeros at the end of his bank account. Yet, as Jigga also suggests, the pursuit of the TVPL Holy Grail will lead teams to move On To The Next One and do Anything over pre-season; as Marlow won’t be providing an Encore and have laid a BluePrint on how to win things, there will be Reasonable Doubt as to who will be the 19/20 TVPL Champions…

(that Hova bit was quite good actually, well done us).

So, if we haven’t alienated/bored our entire audience by now, on to some (informal) awards. No prizes, no cash and hopefully, no abuse directed to us for all this as IT’S JUST FOR FUN!

Team of the Season

Pretty hard to look past the Champs; a league/cup double, a second consecutive B&B final and an incredible 9-game winning streak to overhaul Cookham at the last. Special mention here to Dean too as they played their part in a superb season finale. Lastly, we’re shouting out Berks County, who not only heavily influenced this season, but improved by playing good, attacking football. Well done lads. But, too hard to skip our very own Machine for this, the TVPL treble is yours.

Overachievers

In a Division full of experienced, top level players, to move from D1 and end 7th is a brilliant achievement. Another team to play in the right way, with good discipline and, most importantly, performances that end with points, we’re headed to Burghfield for this one.

Underachievers

Easy to look at the 3 established clubs occupying the bottom three spots, but all are using their teams to develop young players, even more so than last season. Also, with the luxury of having another top flight team within the club, Wraysbury will be considering their 8th place finish, especially after such a bright start. Where did those players go? So, we can’t call this one, but will be watching to see if those bottom 3 do indeed develop next term. Or there will be word (there won’t, they can do what they like, we’re not the boss of them).

Fair Play to Fair Play

We’ve actually not got the right stats for this, part of the reason this review is late in coming! We’ll have to wait for the AGM, sorry! But thanks to every club for offering our officers hospitality when we’ve traveled over, it’s appreciated.

Best Game

Westwood’s win 3-1 over Cookham back in October seems huge now as does Woodcote’s 6-3 battering of Xavi’s Lords, a Jonny Aidey quadruple adding the cherry to the icing. But the Dean had some huge results themselves, including a strong 2-1 December win over the Champs Marlow, a massive statement in the race.

Wraysbury’s 5-goal 2nd half blitz to beat Woodley 8-3 was a display of firepower, as was Mortimer 6-goal 1st half haul vs the same opponents in December. For Berks County to travel to Westwood, an experienced side, and humble them 7-1 shows real class.

For Marlow to beat a strong Richings side 6-2 under such pressure in April showed the mark of Champions, and Woodcote’s 4-1 vs Cookham on the same day really shifted the power to Marlow. Yet, despite these being great results, they weren’t exciting “contests” on the day.

Instead, we’re headed back to late September and a game between two sides that started the season very well. Woodcote took the lead only for the visitors Mortimer to peg them back. After half time, sub James Croft gave the Villagers the lead, but for Sam Green to equalise. Step forward Danny Seaward on 90 minutes with virtually the last kick of the game to nick a 3-2 away win in a belting advert for the TVPL.

Golden Boot

Marlow’s Chris Hurst with 18 in 20 in the league secures the award, with Jonny Adey from Woodcote second on 14 from 12. Well played chaps.

The Aly-Us ‘Follow Me’ Award
(this is tenuous, a quality US House track, the ‘Full Intention Club’ mix is the one to search, incredible)

Almost every club has a handle on theor handle, so good work. Given every team is also active online is well-received, so below are a few accounts that we look forward to reading (we wanted to pick individuals here as well as some are quality, but we’ll refrain, for now!)

Richings Park – always active, win lose or draw and offer huge support for most teams across the TVPL. Even gave us some nice words once. Ta muchly gents.

Burghfield – love the graphics and always updated instantly on matchdays. Another side with lots happening in the community, including charity events.

Marlow United – the Champs also boast a champion feed, with excellent reviews across the league from their chairman (we sometimes nick their work, thanks AT!!!). Also love the views of long-standing Director of football BC, thank you!

Cookham Dean – at one point was stolen by Russian ‘adult’ bots, but that was ok, fortunately didn’t view at work! Their gaffa was first class on here this season as well, bit of fishing, bit of ranting, but a whole heap of passion, and, ultimately, respect.

Also mention here the feeds of the Woodley & Reading City Senior clubs are excellent, covering a whole heap of youth, womens and local football. If you want to be in the know, know those. Also, thanks to Football in Bracknell (always got Duds in our minds chaps) for their continued coverage this season, along with the Reading Chronicle; both offer brilliant support to local football.

 

We think that’s it. Long eh? Took us ages. We’re off for a long bath (in Stella) and to give our minions their reward; the contents of the bath once we’re out of it. They won’t be active for a while after that…

Another nice time to thank all of the TVPL teams, Committee and Officials, present and fallen, for your time, effort and appreciation of our league. Without all your volunteers, players, members and fans, none of this is possible. We aim to give you the framework to play and enjoy, it’s you lot that make that happen (therefore if you don’t it’s your fault too. Sort of).

We know we have challenges and areas where we, the league, can improve. And like you, we’re volunteers that are trying. So, any feedback, ideas or constructive opinions are always welcomed and we look for 19/20 to be even better still.

 

As Gandhi once said, “ta-da, see you in August”.

TVPL Division One 18/19 – Season Review!

The next step on our magical visit of the TVPL Season reviews is Division One.

The big news back at July 2018’s AGM wasn’t the Chairman’s hair, nor the fact a silver BMW had parked waaaay over the lines, meaning a black Audi (mine) couldn’t get out properly and had to do a 19-point Austin Powers turn to get home (gggrrrrrr). Nope it was Newbury “failed” ground regulations for Step 7 and the 5th best team in the Premier were joining D1. Terrible they said. What’s that all about they cried. Ridiculous crowed the crowds. Then we stopped talking about the Chairman’s hair and realised D1 had to get on with it. Yet Langford was the last to laugh…

We called it in the summer. But, it was kinda like saying “Kelly Brook’s alright looking”, or pointing out Tupac was actually a drug-riddled rascal. It was obvious.

It was like Brad Pitt turning up at your mate’s party. Firstly, there must be a reason he ain’t in Monaco/the Premier Division that he can’t influence as, let’s be honest, 9 pints at the Dog & Duck isn’t as good as eating lobster with Julia Roberts, Clooney, Diddy and the new bond girl (what a party THAT would be!). It’s gonna be all about him, everyone talks gushingly about him, you know you’re playing for seconds with the ladies and he’ll put you all to shame. And know it.

Despite all that, Langer’s Lads won with humility and while they simply battered some of our D1 sides, not once did they blow their own, nor dismiss those sides. They got on with the job in hand against a backdrop of ground issues (which we won’t comment about on here, but well done lads!). Top class from all at the club.

It was 12 wins on the spin from the off, with 46 goals and just 5 conceded. The title was effectively won, but Russell Benham – winner of this season’s D1 Golden Boot with 26 – & player gaffer Danny Langford were on fire. It was unlucky 13 as Maidenhead Town hosted and inflicted the only loss of the season to the to-be Champs, but Newbury then carried on again, with the Cups also at the forefront of their season. It took Premier Champs Marlow to knock them out of the County Cup in the Semis, and an incredible 5-4 win for Imaan Lions to lose out in the Quarters in the League Cup. But a solid season across the board, with 17 from 20 wins and a 12-pt gap at the top shows the class. We see a tilt at the Premier title next term fo’sure.

To the race for 2nd. Our summer eyes wandered fondly to Imaan Lions & Cookham Dean Ressies, with both just 1 win away last year from the title. We stuck with Imaan in January and twisted from Cookham, instead trusting form & eying up Maidenhead Town with a push from Finch. It was so tight and close until late February….

It was Maidenhead Town! One of the stories of the season was the rebirth of MTFC. New gaffer. New players. New pitch (and what a pitch!) and new ambition, Town ended the term with the tag ‘The Entertainers’ as while they scored for fun, they also let more goals in than all the other Top 6 teams (something they’ll need to address if they secure Premier football)…3rd place in the Golden Boot race fell to Mitchell Burley with 16.

A patchy start, with losses to Cookham & Imaan, was remedied with some big wins; 7-0 over Westwood and a big away win at bogey side Eldon to move Town mid-table in November. It was a 9-game unbeaten run through to February that moved them into promotion contention, which coincided with Imaan’s fall from grace after Xmas. A 5-0 humbling at Newbury brought Town back to earth, but the return win over the Champs gave Town the points cushion they needed to have 2nd in their sights. With other results falling nicely, a last-day win over Finch guaranteed Town promotion & Step 7 football for the first time in their 15-year history. Indeed Town will be disappointed to lose in the Semi of the Maidenhead Cup – for the 4th season in a row – and to have been stuffed in the League Cup. We look forward to seeing The Entertainers in the Premier on the Bisham Carpet!

Third spot was taken by Westwood Reserves in a remarkable season which didn’t look real back in October after two heavy losses from heavyweights Town & Imaan, 7-0 & 5-0 drubbings. Yet a superb run, started off by 4 straight wins, the highlight being a Reading Cup win over Hellenic Taplow team, gave Julie’s Juniors renewed confidence. Top scorer Danny Nicholson – 4th in the Golden Boot this term – started firing and Wood pushed on in all 3 cups and the league.

A couple of losses followed, but then the hot streak; 7 straight victories pushed Wood into 4th spot with games in hand. Wins over Maidenhead Town, Cookham & Hurst, before another huge result at ailing Imaan, a 4-0 thumping gave Westwood a chance for a happier ending than any parlour we know. End of season wins over Finch and a draw at the Champs saw them end 3rd.

Add to this a Cup win over Premier side Woodley Royals in the Reading Cup, and another final appearance – losing to a strong Wargrave side – gave Wood Ressies their strongest season in years. Hats off gents!

Imaan. Oh Imaan. It could have been so different. With a league spot of 4th (may end 3rd after a postponed game v Eldon is to be decided upon), the Lions will see the loss of key players as a huge disappointment. More dangerous to D1 than Hauwei to global security until early December, Big Mick’s Mob fell away and will rue the chance to have contested the title let alone promotion. Still, superb displays over Maidenhead and a wonderful cup win over Champs Newbury in reaching the League Cup semi-final, it wasn’t all bad as the Lions laid a marker for next term. Watch out D1, these boys will come back harder than any Ex on the Beach scorned lover…

Bill Clinton once said “it’s a game of two halves”. We think he was referring to his marriage, but in football terms, it IS Reading YMCA. Horrific before Xmas – 6 without a win from the off and just 1 win – yet title winning form after it – 9 unbeaten after it with 7 wins! While it could be just a coincidence, Ryan Adams joined the D1 campaign after the loss of the YM all-conquering First team and his 20 goals (yes, 20) in just 11 games gave him Runner up in the Golden Boot and Lemm’s Lads bare points bruv. Fair play in keeping club legends (others joined Premier title chasers) so we expect YM to be pushing for promotion next term down at the Cauldron.

Finch, Rotherfield and Hurst all ended middle-earth – all capable of beating any team in the league, but not enough consistency to keep up with free-flowing scorers. All need a couple of ‘stars’ capable of dominating games or hammering 20 goals a season before Premier football comes back, but will always “surprise” the big hitters, even if it actually isn’t a surprise…(if that makes sense? We think it does and we’re the only ones we care about, so deal with it).

We tipped Webb’s Warriors at the start of the term, but with Webb leaving for pastures new mid-season, club legend Burrows re-took the Cookham Dean Ressie reigns in a difficult season. With the First team spraying around talent like a fox in our driveway (one in particular has a habit of wetting the doormat, quite disturbing actually), the Ressies found 18/19 tricky, never finding any run of form as all others around them did. To have a top scorer on 6 – David Reading – perhaps highlights the issue; we can’t think of a season when Dean were so low on goals, normally synonymous with attacking play. With so much ability in their bulging squad, we see next season as a Champions League term.

Eldon disappointed in the league but excelled in the Cups, reaching the Intermediate Cup Final in the B&B, an incredible effort! Yet ill-discipline and the loss of some star players in August to Aldermaston among others, Celtic need to hoop a few new talents and Bhoy themselves for next term; one that may include D2 football.

While trailing the pack like a Giraffe-clothed 80-year old in the London Marathon, White Eagles must be applauded. In finishing a distant 3rd last term in D2, they took the challenge of D1 and hit 19 of their 20 games with effort. Struggles come with losing every week and a 3-week spell was needed to re-group and recollect in Feb, but the lads came back out and a couple of decent displays in March saw a 2nd win over Eldon and a good display at Rotherfield, only losing out on a draw after an 86th min Field winner. So, take a wodka on us gents, thank you for taking up the challenge. We hope you enjoy next term a little more.

(and seeing White Eagles in a Reading bar in November at 2am after a 5-0 loss, going mashup to some bang bangy music was incredible, top bunch of lads!)

So what a season! Newbury hoovering up W’s like Facebook do lawsuits and a series of challengers, all playing exciting football with young squads. D1 is a good Div y’na, be very interesting next season.

Let’s take a peek at some awards. And remember, we’ve made a lot of all this up, so you can’t be angry. We’re a bit like Tottenham Hotspur…we promise a lot, start off well, show some real quality, then BOTTLE IT EVERY SEASON BECAUSE WE’RE TOTTENHAM HAHAHAH.

Drumroll please minion number one….

Team of the Season

Hard to argue with a team that lost just one league game, made the County Cup semi-final and were deep into the Reading & League cup comps as well. Yes, the league was expected. But there are some strong teams that needed beating, and they did. The Champs take the Crown here. Bring the tinnies…

Overachievers

As above, Langers’ Lads were strong favs so instead we eye 2nd & 3rd spot for this one. MTFC came second bottom last term, yet flew through this campaign, playing some awesome football on the carpet. Add a Maidenhead Cup Semi & these lads were head and shoulders over 17/18. Yet Westwood’s young Reserves also over-performed, ending 3rd, winning a cup & making another Cup final. Wow. Plus they were 8th last term. This is close, but being the only team to beat the Champs in the league, we’ll send this one to Maidenhead.

Underachievers

Eldon Celtic were awesome in the County Cup, ending as Semi finalists, yet ended relegated in D1 after a miserable league campaign. From 5th last term, playing some of the slickest football in the Div, to 10th isn’t great.

But our “winners” are Cookham Dean Ressies – after ending 3rd, just 1 win from the 17/18 title, to finish 9th will be seen as a disappointment, especially after a great opening day win. Too much talent at this club to have these lads near the foot; we expect a much-improved term next year.

Fair Play to Fair Play

White Eagles had a decent record and we love the fact they fielded sides (almost) each week despite a miserable term, well done fellas. The Cookham & Finch boys are always welcoming post-match over a beer, love that. But the league handed Maidenhead the Fair Play award in December, the 3rd time in 5 periods they’ve collected the Nice tag. We also hear about support to Finch for an odd disciplinary matter, nice touch.

Best Game

One side features heavily here, our Entertainers…we have to name MTFC’s 1-0 over the Champs (30mins with 10-men) as it’s the only game Newbury lost. Town also threw down a marker with a 7-0 win over Westwood Ressies, but the return fixture saw Wood smash the in-form MTFC 3-1, arguably a better result. A superb 4-4 draw between Town and Finch, the hosts needing a 94th min equaliser was well discussed down the pub after (in good spirits we add, some ref debate there too!).

We have to mention White Eagles 2-0 away March win over Eldon, only the 2nd win for them during a horrible term. YMCA Rapids 4-0 demolition of the in-form Wood side in April was a massive result, along with Hurst’s 2-2 draw with Champs Newbury. Those Champs also took apart a strong YMCA side 8-0 in late April in a show of strength, an awesome display.

But, there was one tie that was better than all. And we got to see it first-hand. Back in September, Maidenhead hosted Imaan at Bisham and what a game, what a display! With Town 2-0 up after 20mins, Imaan put in arguably the best half of football we’ve seen in years. With Isaac Sedu grabbing one back, Lions were 2-1 at the break. Then Sedu went goal-crazy, bagging another 3 in a 2nd half blitz that blew Town away. At 4-2, Town bagged a late goal to keep it interesting, but Sedu grabbed another, his and Imaan’s 5th, to go 5-3. There was time for another Town late goal to make it 5-4 and so so nervy for the Lions, but they held on for an incredible 5-4 win. Wow. Just wow. Game of the season, no doubt.

‘What You Up To’ of the Year

We’ve picked up Eldon & Cookham, but this one is easy. Before Xmas, Imaan were magical. We saw first-hand some of the attacking, fast, clinical football and wonderful goals. Unbeaten in their first 14 (inc cup) with 11 wins. After a Xmas hammering v rivals Maidenhead Town, their season fell off a cliff, just 2 league wins! We can only ask, ‘what you up to?’. Shame this as we saw a three-way title race, just not to be.

The Aly-Us ‘Follow Me’ Award
(this is tenuous, a quality US House track, the ‘Full Intention Club’ mix is the one to search, incredible)

We all know why most of us look at the internet. Yes we do. Don’t lie! It IS for that. We know your other halves don’t know, that’s ok! Checking the new sheds on the B&Q website is heavenly! But when you get the chance, visit Twitter and follow this lot;

Imaan Lions – on top of all things TVPL and further afield, always msg win lose or draw and supportive of all local football

Newbury – if only to watch their incredible hard work to get a new ground sorted…always offering opinons on matchdays as well

Reading YMCA – now hosting the results of the Ressies and plenty of club news; again, keen to see what next term brings!

Maidenhead Town FC – always active and sometimes overly comprehensive love when they win. Expect peak in Sept around their massive charity day

Rotherfield – love watching this account through the season. Never again to be called ‘underdogs’…these boys are solid, as is there online presence!

 

We are running out of funny ways to remind you all but please don’t get angry at our views. We love you all like a fat kid love cake and just read websites and stuff to get all this lark written. So, if you are angry, or even the fox that visits us 4 times a week, please don’t wet our doormat.

Come see us at @thamesvalleyPL if you don’t watch already. We’re planning to be even more active next season with the addition of a fourth minion!

TVPL Division Two 18/19 – Season Review

Division Two. Aaah. Division Two. The division that trips us up every year, our predictions being barely better than the Game of Thrones ending (for those that don’t know, SPOILER alert…the Dragon did it, in the hallway, with the lead piping). You know the drill now; we check our pre-season tips vs our mid-season thoughts, before agreeing we know nothing about football.

We’ll begin our non-sensical ramblings with a few snippets from said articles;

“Mortimer Reserves are the side to watch for us… we think the Villagers will start strong”

Clever eh? Pat on our muscular backs…

But then we said this in January; “Division 2 is over. Welcome Mortimer Village Ressies to the winners parade as their strikeforce is blowing teams away”.

Our winners in D2 this term were 2017/18 D3 Champs Wargrave! Now while we did call a “consistent term” for our hot-dog munching Gravers, a run of 12 wins in 13 games since November (just wow) with 59 goals scored is incredible. I mean, incredible. A couple of games weren’t contests – a 13-0 in there, along with a 9-1 – but most were simply astonishing displays vs good D2 teams…8-2 vs Goring, Marlow and latterly Mortimer, the game that swung the balance for the league.

With Sam Wild’s 28 goals in 15 games -earning him the Golden Boot this term – along with Stuart Moss’ goal a game from 16, The Sausagers had the top two hitmen in the Division, along with the most overall firepower – 15 goals more than 2nd place Mortimer!

To cap off a superb season, their run to the Intermediate League Cup double saw them fire 28 in 4 games and beat a strong D1 side, Westwood Reserves, in the final.

Those dogs were hot; what a season, well done gentlemen! And yes, we do recall your message to us, reminding us of our ‘mid-term prediction’. So here’s our formal apology. Borry.

The long-time leaders and pace-setters Mortimer Reserves will feel they let the trophy slip. After a hot start, it was ultimately the two losses vs Wargrave that did for them, along with drawn games; Wargrave lost double the games this term, but only drew once! Mortimer struggled to break down sides after Xmas, and they would have seen ties vs Phoenix and Goring as dropped points.

Still, an incredible season with promotion to D1 meaning they join Cookham and Westwood as having sides in the Top two TVPL tiers, testament to, er, triffic times? With 3 players in the top 10 scorers, led by Jordan Sawyer (14 in 10, 3rd spot), Mortimer blew teams away early doors, just lost that huff and puff from Feb. well done chaps, great season!

Woodcote Stoke Row Ressies also started superbly but ran out of steam. Unbeaten in their first 7, it was the loss to Mortimer in November that started a poor spell of form, 8 without a win and losses to sides around them. The title slipped there, but a 7-0 March win vs Marlow gave them impetus and they finished well to see off the late challenge from Maidenhead Town Reserves to end 3rd and give them a shout for promotion.

A tremendous opening day for MTFC Reserves – 1-0 down at HT before a 4-1 win over Goring – quickly soured with a horrific run that saw Town pick up just 2 points from their opening 7 games, as well as a broken leg and broken nose (hope ya man gets playing again soon). Yet it was their cup form that gave hope; progression in the Maidenhead Norfolkian Cup along with the County competition. Bottom at Xmas. Then, a remarkable league run, kick-started by an excellent 5-1 vs Richings Park in January, saw 7 wins from 8 to move up the table. Two losses to Champs Wargrave stunted any top 3 hopes, but it was the Junior County Cup win that made this season special, a rare trophy for any TVPL team and a first for Maidenhead Town. Top scorer Darryl Wearn set up the win and ended 4th in the Golden Boot race, the same spot Town ended in D2. Well done fellas, County Cup wins are huge.

We did fancy Richings Park but they never quite got going this term; some splashes of brilliance in the league, along with their continued excellence in the Slough Town Cup – now finalists for 3 years on the spin, but missing out this time around – shows they are a force.

Hurst Ressies too have moments of wonder, but seem to lack consistency for a promotion challenge. Good strike-force though, know their onions. Middle Earth for both.

Phoenix joined the TVPL this term and despite a tough season, a great April run of just 1 loss in 8, including a fantastic win at Mortimer, saw them safe, ending 7th.

Another side to hit form at the death was Harchester Hawks. Staring relegation in the face, from the 2nd March they amassed 14 points from their last 8 games to move away from danger into Middle Earth. Close though, won’t want that again…

It was a close fight to avoid the drop, but it was Goring & Marlow United Ressies ending the term at the foot, with a disasterous run from AFC Corinthians dragged them down into 3rd bottom. Seasons to forget, but there’s always next term chaps…

So there we go. Nicely wrapped up like a Donald Trump lie. Division Two everyone. Well done you. Now, some soppy awards. And please remember, this is all for fun (fun for us, not those we take the mickey from…). Please don’t pinch us when you see us though, we’re sensitive.

Team of the Season

Has to be those hot-dog munching, sausage- scoffing, banger-b….you get the idea. It’s Wargrave. Back to back titles and a League Cup double with a +52 goal difference? Mustard (see what we’ve done there?).

Overachievers

Tricky this as most sides ended where they felt they would do. In the league, we have to say Wargrave again; to achieve the title after being promoted is a superb effort. But a shout here to Maidenhead Town Ressies, whose County Cup win is a superb reflection on the TVPL and a brilliant effort, clap clap, hats off both.

Underachievers

Very tricky but following a 4th place last term, to have such a dismal end sees AFC Corinthians pick this one up. Marlow will feel they didn’t fare as well as they could, but a young side will only learn. AFC, sorry chaps…its yours this term.

Fair Play to Fair Play

While they may have traded a few more £10 for survival, big kudos to Goring whose disciplinary record was strong. They also offered tea and biscuits to oppo, so, for the love of jammy dodgers, the crown is yours.

Best Game

Phoenix’s opening day win over the Champs looks good now, and the Wargrave 3-2 away win at Mortimer in Feb looks like it swayed the title race.

In January, Hurst Ressies and Marlow shared 8 with a late Noah Hodge grabbing a Hurst point; normally this kind of game would win this award!

But on 10th November, an absolute belter takes the crown. Already a contender for game of year, Woodcote led bottom side Goring 5-4 at home, yet a 90th min strike from Daniel Houseman, levelled at 5-5 and secured a great point vs an in-form Cote crew. Wow. Well done chaps, great advert for TVPL here!

‘What You Up To’ of the Year

This term has seen us look at those clubs whose late push has us asking, what you been up to? So Harchester and Phoenix, how come the March-push? Get those skates on earlier chaps as you both showed promotion form, just two late! Share this one please, and get going earlier next term.

The Aly-Us ‘Follow Me’ Award
(this is tenuous, a quality US House track, the ‘Full Intention Club’ mix is the one to search, incredible)

Both Soulja Boy and Sean Paul made songs, inviting their impressionable (and clearly tone deaf) fans to ‘follow them on Twitter’. We won’t take to YouTube to ask, but we would advise you hunt these feeds down and keep posted. They’re peng.

Wargrave – in a marvellous season for the Gravers, they are very funny online. So much so, we’d like to award them the TVPL Twitter Feed 18/19 Trophy*. The sausage gorging cracks us up…nice work guys!

Harchy Hawks – some good stuff from these chaps, always messaging win, lose or draw. Good work boys.

Mortimer Ressies – always equal coverage of First & Ressie sides and with @withy10 adding good input, good one to follow. Also offers more about local area work that most, nicely done chaps.

(and yes, we know we haven’t mentioned some sides here, most do handsome work, well done).

After all this daft TVPL commentary, felt it a good time to thank you all. The players, coaches, managers, officials, fans, whoever you are…plenty of people volunteer a huge amount of time (sometimes money!) and effort to enjoy local football. YOU guys are what makes this league and YOU guys are the ones we look up to. So thanks.

No, we’re not crying. We got some frankfurter juice in our eye, celebrating Wargrave’s season.

So that’s Division Two. Good work all. On to next term. And remember, this is all unofficial. *No awards will actually be handed out so maybe print this off and stick it on your wall.

Stay tuned @thamesvalleypl for more reviews. Bye.

TVPL Division Three 18/19 – Season Review

Here we are. Division Three. Always a big title race. And so it proved…

Before we go on, we’d like to offer an analogy; You tell your mates that you can go out on a night out, then your missus says you can’t go, but you go anyway. Does that mean you were right in the first place, or that you got it wrong?

We said Henley would win the League in September. Then we retracted it (er, must have mis-typed!). Then they won it. So, we TOLD YOU SO!!!!

Our D3 winners this term were Henley Town after an incredible title race that went to the wire. With 4 straight wins to end the term, including victories over rivals Woodley A and Taplow A, our Kites flew high, led by a superb midfield pairing that dominated the big games. Indeed, 8 wins in the last 9 cemented Henley’s title as they played catch up to Woodley A, who led for a long spell, only to finish runners-up.

It was the Kites’ defence that tipped the balance this term, conceding just 23 in their 18 games. Indeed only Nick Holzer made the Golden Boot Top 12, with 10 in 15, showing how the goals were shared, but the D made the D.

At this point we have to concede D3 wasn’t appropriate this term due to issues with Cintra Park Rovers; they failed to complete their season, withdrawing from the last 4 games of their term. This, by default, handed 3 of the top 4 ‘walkovers’; something we have to mandate as we are governed by the Berks & Bucks rulebook (ultimately the FA).

However, not to shine away from our League Champions, Henley lost the least games in the Division and pressed Woodley until the final day. It actually took 5 games before The Kites secured a win and after a dodgy campaign start, they found their feet, highlights including November’s 5-1 over Twyford and that decisive 3-1 home win over Woodley A. Well done Champs, showed true mettle after a poor start.

Woodley A end second after a much-improved campaign. Having led for long spells, Woodley ended up losing the big games from January onwards; Berks County, Pangbourne and Henley all taking wins. Yet, last gasp winners vs Maidenhead Town A (twice) and big wins before Xmas over Taplow & Berks Ressies earned promotion for Wooders. We called it mid-season; Bulmershe Crowds were NOT disappointed!!!

Twyford ended 3rd and after their D4 title last term, perhaps shows the true level of our Ruskies. A Reading Cup win over Chalvey Sports A means a Cup win/promotion double still ensures a successful season for T&R, despite the last game being PP.

A successful TVPL debut for Hambleden sees them end 4th and with success over established TVPL clubs – including a first game 6-0 highlight, an October 6-0 away win, along with a great 4-1 sign-off to the season – means our delectable Village side could mean bid’ness next term. Please do make your changing rooms walls a little thicker though as one certain ref heard us once…!

Whatever happened to Berks County Ressies? From a commanding Xmas perch, they ended 5th, a rancid run of form similar to the demise of Ant (from Ant & Dec). While we have no questions over their driving, we do worry about what they ate for Xmas dinner – 8 league wins before God’s Birthday, just 2 wins afterwards. We’ve seen some self-sulking since, but know there’s too much talent there to pass over…we feel a big cuddle over the summer is needed before we see our County back next term; Carl Elcombe ended Golden Boot as well with 13 in 10.

Much-fancied Taplow saw the wheels fall off a little after a 9-1 League Cup mauling at Wargave…just 4 points from their last 6 league games saw their promotion challenge fall away like Gemma Collins on ice. Some memorable wins – a 4-0 away battering of Ruskies and a home demolition of MTFC A – were mixed with some below par ties. Next term? Need consistency and Mr Hill to keep rolling defenders to bag…

And if teams weren’t going for promotion, they were fighting the drop. With the demise of Cintra, Goring were left for relegation from March, but both Pangbourne & MTFC battled to avoid that 3rd bottom spot. An incredible run from Pangbourne – 15pts from the last 18 including 4 incredible wins – shows true mettle. Yet it wasn’t enough to overhaul Town, who secured safety with their best performance of the term, a 6-2 over Taplow. With results like these, we wonder how both will fare next term if they add consistency and some defending…?

So we kind of got D3 right, but were shackled somewhat by Cintra’s demise. Still, we applaud our Champs Henley!

Team of the Season

We have to say the Champs as whoever won this wide open title race deserved it! Debutants Hambleden run them a close second, a great opening term in the league.

Overachievers

Woodley A. Not fancied in the summer, a similar record to the Champs means they were just pipped, ultimately in the big games.

Underachievers

Tough but we fancied Taplow A this term and they tailed off after Xmas. Berks County also disappointed from Xmas. But, we have to give this to Cintra Park who didn’t complete a full season.

Fair Play to Fair Play

Having seen several teams first hand this term, Hambleden approached each game in great spirits and we believe they have an excellent disciplinary record with 0 reds. Hats off.

Best Game

A massive 8-2 win, with 6 first half goals for Berks County Ressies over MTFC A in November showed the strength of BC, but a 5-1 Henley win over Twyford Ruskies in November showed the title intent.

But, to win it, what’s better than a 90th minute winner! Woodley A had a couple vs MTFC, but for sheer drama, a 90th minute Andrew Hodgkins winner gave Berks County a 4-3 win over an in-form Pangbourne…the hosts were 3-1 up on 82mins, yet Pang came back to tie it 3-3 with 2 late goals, before BC notched the winner! Wow.

‘What You Up To’ of the Year

Easy. Cintra. Although, imagine Pangbourne ate their Weetabix EVERY week?

The Aly-Us ‘Follow Me’ Award
(this is tenuous, a quality US House track, the ‘Full Intention Club’ mix is the one to search, incredible)

Another division with a couple of good accounts, but too many non-believers here…

MTFC A – their own team account offering details of (plenty of) losses and wins. Ch-dis.

Woodley A – good club feed but need their teams to have their own accounts. SORT IT.

Goring Ressies – another cracking club account, this summer with big news, so get on their case. It’s not stalking if it’s Twitter. That’s right, right?

 

So there. Another superb season “reviewed”. We appreciate we miss loads of detail and in some cases, just make stuff up. But if you feel aggrieved, put your phone down, pop your shoes on, open the door, go outside, take a walk, find some small twigs, get some vine, take it all to a small stream, build a bridge and GET OVER IT.

Or, just follow @thamesvalleyPL on Twitter and give us some love. Our minions thrive on it.

 

TVPL Division Four 18/19 – Season Review!

So, the first of our TVPL Season Reviews sees us tackle Division Four harder than an Old Firm challenge on Scott Brown.  We’ll follow the usual road of detail; us reminding you of who we chose in the summer, a memory of our (drunken) mid-season review, us saying “I told you” or “What do we know”, then some season highlights, lowlights and a celebration of our Champions.

We’d also like to reaffirm that this is all tongue in cheek. We jest. It’s for fun. And we normally make mistakes. We’re tired. Babies really exhaust you right? If you don’t know, having a baby is like having a night out in Reading; you look forward to it for weeks in advance, buy some new clothes, you get a bit nervous but then you love it for a few hours, you get a few cuddles and it makes your year, but you normally feel exhausted the next day, it costs a fortune, you have pee on your trousers and you’ve probably caught something.

(let’s move on….)

So, in line with that…….we told you so!

It was a victorious season for our debutants Datchet Village! A tremendous title race was taken to the penultimate game where the Villagers secured the title with a thumping 4-1 away win over Harchester Harks Dev. A brilliant run from Westwood United Reserves – to round off a great season for the Wood as a club, more on that later – left them runners up to Datchet, who also claimed the Junior League Cup, a 4-2 win over those Hawks again!

The Villagers only league defeat this season was a 4-5 belter v Westwood, a win that kept the title race going. But for any team to lose just once in a league campaign is impressive. But they had firepower that would make Guy Fawkes smile; 77 goals in just 16 games (for reference, the nearest anyone else scored was 50). And it’s here we see why the league was won; The Villagers have the former Windsor FC striker Barry Dunbar, who smashing 16 in just 9 games, along with an ex-Flackwell winger and some real talent amidst their ranks. While the Double is well deserved, we’re very keen to see how they fare at a slightly higher level than D4; a level they can clearly push for.

The League Cup was won with a great 4-2 win over fellow D4 side Harchester Hawks.

An incredible season for Westwood Development whose young side only lost 3 this term. A deserved promotion will see another successful young TVPL side earn plaudits and promotions; proof there is local young talent for our sides to embrace.

We called a good season for Berks County Rovers and with Matt Panton ending as Golden Boot (20 in 14 games), 3rd place along with a League Cup pens loss shows development from the previous season. Perhaps fell away a touch since the mid-season review, but a good term none-the-less, the highlight being scoring 8 in October vs Henley ev, a game that saw 2 hattys, Panton (4) and Richard Cumner ensuring they sold papers.

Bar the winners, possibly the standout side this term was Farnham Mavericks; another young side with a young player-coach in Chris Maynard, the Mavs ended 4th this term after finishing the previous term bottom of the pile. A brilliant achievement for this young squad that will eyeing a promotion bid next term. With 7 wins this term (over double last), Farnham showed they could almost every side in the league on their day.

We liked the look of both Henley and Taplow last summer, but sadly consistent form never materialised and bar a brilliant late run from Taplow – picking up 14 points from their last 7 games, beaten only by the Champs – the sides ended the term at the foot.

It was middle earth for AFC Corinthians and Phoenix Old Boys, while Harchester Hawks Dev seemed to be involved in the big games, along with an excellent cup run.

So there. Now, some unofficial awards.

(We hope you’re enjoying all this. Our minions have been flogged to produce it and now we’ve run out of Red Bull to bride them with – blame Brexit – we’re promising solid food for dinner as their incentive).

Team of the Season
Can’t fault the double winners…Datchet have to take the crown this term, although close runners up are Wood after a brilliant term.

Overachievers
A double is good, but to finish 4th with a squad that ended bottom the term before? Has to be Maynards Men, Mavericks. Well done lads.

Underachievers
Tricky here, but we have to say Henley Dev…for a side that only a few years ago were plying semi-pro trade and have the heritage of the Kites, we hope to see a resurgence term. A tough job ahead, but embrace local players and we’re sure a better term lay ahead.

Fair Play to Fair Play

Our Champs actually won the Reading Refs Association Fair Play Award! Given we’ve no idea who was included (could have been open only to teams called Datchet) and it’s nothing to do with TVPL, we don’t really know how this came about. But anyone that’s called a Fair Play Winner in local football needs nuff ‘spect getma, so well played lads, its deserved.

Best Game
While a massive statement of intent was the Champs 8-2 demolition of Berks County in October, we cannot escape the 9-goal thriller on 23rd March – The Champs 4 – 5 Westwood Dev! A hattrick for Barry Dunbar wasn’t enough as Wood’s Jeilyn Liriano fired the winner with just minutes left to keep the title race going. Superb game of football, sums up this Division!

Golden Boot

Matt Panton at Berks County Rovers bagged 20 in 14. Golden. Clap Clap.

‘What You Up To’ of the Year
Taplow Reserves. Terrible before Xmas, sublime after it…Father Xmas bring you form or something? Play like that next term, you’ll have promotion on the table gents, you were excellent. Which leads us to ask, before Xmas, what you up to?

The Aly-Us ‘Follow Me’ Award
(this is tenuous, a quality US House track, the ‘Full Intention Club’ mix is the one to search, incredible)
We like clubs that keep us informed of their bid’ness. Lots do. Some don’t. Down in D4, it’s murky, so we’ll try to offer 3 sides to follow, but not sure we can…but follow….

Mavericks – They offer Monday Motivation. Why wouldn’t you follow this? These lads are the shining light in D4.

Datchet – they even posted when Westwood beat them. Hats off Champs. Plus they engage the local area…how they only have 153 followers is madness. FOLLOW

 

Our minions are tired now. We think we’ve covered TVPL D4 in it’s glory and are delighted that we have new teams jopining the TVPL that are finding success by doing things the right way. Well done to Datchet and Phoenix for joining and we’re also happy that Westwood’s new side performed well and that the term ‘Development’ seems to be back to what it means.

We’d welcome your feedback. Not if it’s bad. Keep that to yourselves. Otherwise, tell us how great our teams are and how wonderful we are.

Check our @thamesvalleyPL for all our news. If you don’t, we’ll cry.

TVPL Mid-Season Review!

Don’t count your chickens before the eggs are cooked. Or something like that…welcome to the (belated) TVPL mid-season review where we’ll run our beadys over each division, acknowledge our pre-season tips as horrific and smile upon those chasing down divisional titles. And remember, it’s tongue in cheek…

Titles can’t be won and lost pre-Xmas – didn’t Liverpool lose the title on Thursday? – but they can be won after!!!

Division 4 is Datchet Village’s to lose as the newcomers to the TVPL are flying. 100% with 6 from 6 and an average of 5 goals per game. They sit 2nd behind Berks County Rovers but have already beaten their main rivals 8-2 in mid-Nov, a win that gives us all we need to back our claim from the summer (we’ll get this one right!!). The Datchet boys also have a Berks & Bucks Quarter Final to look forward to along with a Junior League Cup semi-final place to celebrate.

Rovers, who lead the way with 22pts from 10 games and look good for a promotion push (we called this too!) but will face stern competition from Maynard’s Mavericks whose 6 wins from 9 was perhaps unexpected, but certainly deserved…a D3 spot is in their sights but can the youngsters stay consistent? Rovers have also worked their way to the Junior League Cup semi-finals so a good season is on the cards.

A little mention to Westwood Dev side here as their debut season has been very good with the youngsters sitting 4th with a 50% win record.

We’ll stick with our predictions here; Datchet to win it (perhaps unbeaten?) with Rovers 2nd and, due to our 3rd tip not partaking this term, we’ll go Farnham Mavericks for promo too.

Into Division 3 and we said it was wiiiiiide open (exact quote) and the promotion race will be!

We have leaders and they now sit as heavy favourite; Berks County Ressies. Called them as challengers but that was before we knew an EBFL goalgetter had joined their ranks. Carl Elcombe sits top of the Goal Charts with 11 in 10 games and a raft of new faces sees the County top the pile on their almost accredited 3G surface. Another team with a title to lose we reckon, but can they keep everyone happy???

The promotion spots are tight. Woodley A sit second after a strong start, a side that can grind out wins and battle well. TVPL newcomers Hambleden probably sit best placed to challenge County as their GD is 16 better than Wooders and with a bunch of ‘bigger boys’, Hambles are no shambles as they scramble(s) to, er, the, brambles? A decent side, we think the Dons will surpass Woodley over the coming weeks, but the Bulmershe Pavilion crowds will not be disappointed come May…

Henley have been a little disappointing so far but with games in hand, they could rise quickly and Taplow A haven’t quite got going but sit well in touch, goals from Charlie Hill always keeping them as contenders but will a Reading Cup semi and League Cup quarter get in the way?

We’ll revise our predictions slightly with County taking the crown, Pangbourne ending 2nd with either Woodley or Taplow taking promotion. But tight.

Division 2 is over. Welcome Mortimer Village Ressies to the winners parade as their strikeforce is blowing teams away. Sitting top and unbeaten after 10, they have already put away their rivals Woodcote Reserves 5-3 and with 43 goals already, the title will be heading to the Ade Keep Fortress by around March. We called their challenge by the way.

On their Cote tails are Woodcote who, after setting the pace early on, have seen 3 losses in thier last 5 and competition from the chasing pack for a promotion place. Probably favs to hang on to that runner-up spot, but others are chomping…

Wargrave are best placed to immediately challenge but they need to continue pre-Xmas form, while debutants Phoenix OB & Richings Park, along with Hurst Ressies, all have games in hand over the 2nd placed side and a run of a few wins will propel anyone up this table.

This really is a Division where 3 wins makes a big difference. Will anyone take up the challenge?

Winners are Mortimer. Woodcote will earn promotion & we tip Phoenix to rise from the as…yea, ok, bad joke. But it will happen. Ish.

Division One anyone? Well, our pre-season Newbury nap shows no sign of burning out as Langers’ Lads sit top, 8 form 8 with 3 cups competitions still live. Wow. But perhaps the shock isn’t the goals scored, but only the 4 league goals conceded! We all know Newbury are a challenging Premier team but their ground situation was out of their control and top marks for knuckling down and beating the teams they face. Can they go unbeaten?

Perhaps the surprise of the Division so far are Maidenhead Town. With Bisham’s #thecarpet to enjoy, no wonder Rumble’s Entertainers are playing lovely, attacking football. A shaky start under new stewardship has disappeared and after beating the excellent Imaan Lions 5-0 to sit second at the Xmas break, could we see an unexpected challenge to Newbury?

We called Imaan at the start of the season and Imran’s Army haven’t disappointed as they sit 3rd with a game in hand over Town and some big wins in the bag leave the Lions best placed to hunt down Newbury. There is a Senior League Cup Quarter final to provide an opportunity to take on Premier sides to show their capacity to hold their own in the top flight next season.

Finchampstead and Cookham Dean Ressies sit as the only other sides with realistic hopes of taking on the top 3 but while they both have 2 and 3 games in hand on the leading trio, they both sit 9 points behind 3rd place. Both have the players, both have the ability, but can either find the consistency to build the platform to challenge. A run of 4 or 5 wins will be what it takes we feel.

Hurst, Rotherfield and Westwood have had selected good results which will guarantee at least middle earth this term but again, all sides have the capacity to beat anyone on their day, but all 3 need strongest squads available more often than not.

The fight to avoid the drop will be between Eldon, White Eagles and surpisingly YMCA Rapids, whose clubs’ fortunes may have a huge impact on the Padworth Ballers, more on that very shortly…we see Lemm’s Men having too much strength to stay near the foot for long so expect results and points over the next few months. Eldon are another surprise as while they have lost some players to higher levels, there is still enough ability to push anyone.

We’ll stick with Newbury and given the table, we’ll plump for Imaan but under a strong challenge from MTFC and Finchampstead who will push hard over the second half of the season.

The Premier Division. The Kings are dead…long live the (insert team name)….!!!

With the huge news that Reading YMCA folded back in October, our Premier Division will have new champions for the first time since 2015, when Marlow United pipped the Champs in a brilliant title race.

It’s perennial Cup Kings Cookham Dean that lead the pack, sitting top at the half way stage with 9 wins from 13, heading a quartet that will take until April to sort out. The new management of Xavi Etienne has seen The Dean produce winning football, grinding out results while not playing at peak and nicking winners in tight games. It’s resulted in points, but the lowest GD in the Top 5, which could be crucial. Do they need to ‘go big’ and let the big guns of Lishman and Baker-Timms run rampage? We’ll see…

It’s Marlow United however that sit prettiest, albeit in 2nd place. Just a point behind the Dean but with 2 games in hand, the free-flowing attacking Machine is purring this season with just the one league loss. A fresh influx of players in the summer, along with a new groundshare at FC Marlow has given The Machine impetus and with Chris Hurst and Nile O’Meilly-Newell both in the Top 3 of the scorers charts, they have the firepower…the stage is set, can they take Centre???

Woodcote pushed YMCA so hard last term it’s no surprise to see them challenging again. A poor run in October returned just 1 league point from 9 which saw they slip behind, but Tucker’s goals and leadership will be important for the balance of term.

Perhaps the surprise in the leading group are Mortimer whose club recruitment has been exceptional, adding good players to a strong outfit. A Pre-Xmas run of 4 straight wins put the Villagers 4th, just 3 points off top spot. They have goals, they have the pitch, can they keep the big boys out at the other end? Be interesting finding out…

Wraysbury have goals but an early bang has dropped off, leaving them 5th and out of touch with the leading group. They are joined by Richings Park whose dismal start of 3 losses without a goal has been completely turned around, losing just one league game since 29th August! A brilliant achievement for the D1 Champs, but can they build to push for Europa League?

The bottom is tight (excuse the phrase) but given teams down here have games in hand, expect changes before May, we’ve no idea how this will pan out down here!!!

We have to go for Marlow but after a fantastic title race. Don’t ask who will come 2nd…

 

So there we are. Short and sweet, exactly unlike our TVPL League Meetings. We’ve no idea if people will like this or not. If you don’t, write a letter. Address it “Mr Cheer Up, 4 Get A Grip Drive, Lightenupsville, ForGodSakeShire”.

Yours, TVPL

 

TVPL Division Three 2018/19 Preview!!!

Yes. We’re late with this. Borry. We would like to bore you as to why but we’d get told off by the league for using bad language. Needless to say we WANTED to do this last night but SOMEONE booked dinner with the mother-in-law and SOMEONE made the table reservation BEFORE I was due home from work. SOMEONE got told about themselves (the last someone was me after I dared to say something to the missus. Got an earful).

So, as per Mourinho’s pending sacking from United, we’re better late than never.

Division Three is always a weird one. It’s either i) as tight as an oppo sub’s offside call (never off) or ii) as tight as Daniel Levy in the summer. What shall transpire this season? We’ve no idea but will type words that make it look like we have a clue.

Let’s start with those team that dropped down from D2 last term (and 16/17 D3 Champs), Berks County Ressies. A woeful term for the BC Boys last term as a club reshuffle left the Reserves without a core of the Champ winning side. Adrift at the foot of D2 last term with just 4 wins, the lads will need good mental strength to make a go of it this term. A lot of change in their Senior side could mean some new faces, but we’ve not heard big news. Could be a challenger, could sit middle earth. At least it will be an improved term.

There are 5 newly promoted sides in this term’s division to balance out the league. The steam-away Champs Twyford Ruskies have goals and experience in their ranks and players that are comfortable playing higher than D3 so we expect a strong season. With Jones & Reibero battling for goal supremacy, we’re tipping back-to-back promotions for the Ruskies. And now on Twitter as well…follow this lot closely.

Taplow A had a good season; another side with experience and players able to stroll around the lower Divisions. Able to steam some younger sides last term, perhaps those big wins may disappear, but again, expect goals, wins and controlled football from Murtagh’s Mob; another we tip to push Champs League places.

Maidenhead Town A had the youngest team in D4 last term and developed well through the season after an inconsistent start. Bar the top 2, post-Xmas not many sides played as well as Town and we see club strengthening across all 3 teams. We know the plan is to stay ‘young’ but will a little extra experience be needed against stronger teams? Middle earth will be a good season. Will the Bigger Boys bully Beck’s Kids?

Goring Reserves are a good team on their day, but inconsistency let them down. Started very well last term but fell away in losing to all those challenging sides around them. Another side with goals in them and a good pattern of play, but another where Bigger Boys may influence games. Another side that should see survival in middle earth a good season.

Cintra basically become Wright Unity Reserves in November and results drastically improved after an opening day 9-0 hammering. Experience and domination of teams earns points at Cintra Park; will there be some fresh faces to add pace? Expect a good season with some early results here.

Hambleden and Pangbourne join the TVPL so represent unknown quantities. Hambleden suffered in the Wycombe League last season but a division of only 8 teams sadly shows the decline of that area’s football (we wish the league well). Hopefully a new league will offer some excitement for the lads to begin enjoying their football again and with very little Wycombe/TVPL recent Cup history to draw on, we can’t offer much of an indication! But, to come straight into D3 shows they have something about them!

We know even less about Pangbourne, our ill-fated attempt to contact them failed (messenger pigeon, got caught in the overhead BT pylon. Shame. Lovely bird) so we’ll have to pass on offering indication of strength. Again, we hope they enjoy the TVPL and we’ll be profiling our new clubs very soon so watch this space.

We then have last season’s D3 veterans, Henley Town & Woodley A.

Henley have big designs to build again and have brought in numerous strong players, several from higher levels and several from Youth set-ups. We see a strong season from the Kites this term and are posting them as pre-season favourites for this Division!

Woodley ‘A’ always flatter to deceive. An incredibly well-run club, the two sides outside the Senior & Reserves tend to struggle and whilst the A boys sat comfortably in middle-earth, there needs to be a push to push on. A level side (a +1 goal difference reflects that), steady and good discipline. But need that star quality to compete this term vs some strong experienced side.

This D3 is strong, perhaps nearly at D2 level. Great for the league, tough to win it.

So, our Top 3 – We’re calling Henley as winners, with Twyford Ruskies and Berks Ressies with Taplow A pushing Champs League spot. But this is wiiiiiide open so keep watching, it could be entertaining!!!

TVPL

 

TVPL Division Two 18/19 Preview!!!

Next up on our poorly worded assault on several TVPL teams is the TVPL2. Notoriously a division where there is a strong title race – bar last year’s FC Woodley parade. Who can forget the YMCA Rapids v Westwood Ressie tussle from 2014/15 or the Burghfield v Westwood Ressie battle in 16/17? Actually, Westwood lost both so they probably want to?

So, lets take a peek at who could raise the bar this term, team by team. Most of this is made up, but go with it anyway…we start with the promoted sides looking to make an impact.

Wargrave are the D2 Champs and offer solid football based around experience. They know what they’re up to but perhaps lack a little pace; an ingredient more key as you go up the leagues. The boys were the 2nd highest scorers last term but a leaky backline conceded 34 in just 15 games (played)…that’s too high for D2 so defensive drills needed. But we expect a consistent season this term and there’s rumour of a few new faces from their disbanded chums at Braybrooke…

Maidenhead Town Reserves fluffed their lines in their title bid last term; just one win away from securing the title, it ended with squeaky bum time before they were confirmed runners up. Another side that offer consistency, their goals ‘for’ is ok but a solid defence gave them a good GD and the chance to grind out results, perhaps without free-flowing football of say, a Goring. But, big changes at the club have seen new faces join all squads at MTFC so will some talen trickle down from firsts, or indeed come from their Yoof ranks? Time will tell. Middle earth this season.

Goring offer biscuits at haftime and score bucket loads of goals, 56 in just 16 games last term and with Sam Fuller banging in 21 in just 12, they’ll need him all season. On their day, these boys can beat anyone in this division, but they’ll need a consistent side this season as the challenge is sterner than 3rd place in D3…

AFC Corinthians were best of the rest in D2 last term and John Smith’s goal a game went a way to that. But given the parade of Woodley & SRCC, a goal difference of -9 perhaps was reflective that it was a league within a league last term. But, they can play, nice passing football that earns nice-looking wins, but can be ‘beaten up’ a little by bigger boys. Should be targeting promotion this term given no D1 sides came down.

Mortimer Reserves are the side to watch for us. While only 5th last term, there have been new faces at the Aidy Keep Rec for both sides and we see a title bid this year after a decent pre-season. Andy Johnson-Archer’s goals will be needed and the 55 ‘against’ needs to be lower this term, but with perhaps a more level playing field this season, we think the Villagers will start strong.

Harchester Hawks are new two twitter but not TVPL2…midtable last year but we know Berry’s Bunch are bringing in new faces including keeper and defensive options. Tidy on the ball and strongest through midfield, they have a fast and lively number 9 to boot. We see better football this term, but think another season in mid-table beckons unless they can bring in a little more pace, perhaps out wide.

Woodcote Stoke Row will also be looking for the ‘dribble down’ effect from a strong first team. A spurt last term near the end of the season averted worries of relegation, but it was too little too late by way of a promotion challenge. Question for the Cote; do you train?

Marlow are also much-changed from last term with an influx of Penn & Tylers Green players into the first team group; how will this affect their Reserves? They could be uber-strong, blending last season’s youthful side with experience and Prem quality. Mark our words…watch for the United…

Hurst Reserves. One of our favourites. Despite #jacketgate a few years back, they haven’t puched on as they would have liked and the end of season form last term shows they have the talent, they just perhaps can’t be bothered some weeks. Who knows? Doubt they’ll be adrift but not sure they have the firepower to break into Top 4.

We welcome two new sides to this years TVPL from the East Berks League; Richings Park Reserves and Phoenix Old Boys.

Richings Park Reserves had an excellent season last year, winning the EBFL Division One by a landslide and also winning the Norfolkian Junior Cup, beating our YMCA Vets side in the final. Following the excellent debut of their Senior side last year, we expect big things from the RP lads. Also worth noting their facilities are excellent and they offer a decent chicken wing post-match. Keep watching here, we sniff success…

Phoenix OB also had a title winning season, winning EBFL D2 after a long battle; shows they have staying power. Solid across the side, the lads will need a few new faces to cope with some of the fire power such as Goring and Richings Park, but we know these guys well and expect great attitudes and some battling football.

So there. Not sure if anyone still reading this but we expect a 2-way tussle this season (hence the picture…some thought goes into all this y’know.

Top 2 – Richings Park Reserves and Mortimer, the former nicking a debut title. Minus the moaning. We also expect Marlow to be pushing high, perhaps Corinthians taking the final Champs League spot.

But we don’t know. We’ve played the lottery for 16 years and won £30. So don’t listen to us.

Keep watching on http://www.twitter.com/thamesvalleyPL

#TVPL

 

TVPL Division One 18/19 Preview!!!

Division One. It’s like the Championship. The hardest division to win. The most level playing field (excluding Rotherfield’s pitch). And we kick it all off tomorrow.

It’s like the Grand National. Anyone could win this. Pick the one with the best name (we’d go with the team with the word Lions innit). Runners and riders? Let’s go…

We start with the side that’s dropped down; Newbury FC. Wow. After a crazy summer, Langford’s Lads have had to drop down after finishing 5th in the Premier due to ground issues (we’ve been asked to leave this topic alone, but as this is ‘unofficial’, we really feel for these boys!), they enter the pit of D1. Full of TVPL Rep stars, including Langers himself, the Newbury crew will start as comfortable favourites for the title, a status they seem quite happy with. Could this be a cakewalk? We hope not, but feel for the lads that may feel they are beneath themselves for the season…

And so to the 1 side promoted, White Eagles. With last term’s top 2 falling away from the TVPL, the Eagles are the sole D2 rep side and will need to defend solidly this term against some very attacking sides. Last term’s record of only 2 goals per game will only be good enough if they can keep sides out. Staying up will be a good season for the Eagles.

And so to last term’s contenders;

Cookham Dean & Imaan were basically one win away from the promised land. Burrows Boys are now Webb’s Warriors as Ollie Webb takes full control this term, ably assisted by JB. With an influx of players into the club, could the First team’s excellence result in a drip-down effect into the Ressies; an already strong competitive side bolstered by a couple of experienced First teamers? Hopes are high, bar staff are willing and club ambassadors vocal. If they can just add a few more goals, Webb’s Warriors could take the extra step…(and not get promoted).

Imaan are this close (say it with your eyes squinted, makes it work). The goals of Aqeel Butt (2nd in the charts last term) almost nailed the dream ticket, but a little choke at the finale – just 2 wins from the last 6 games – dealt the horrible hand of 4th place. It’s safe to say these boys are the most attractive to watch, if a little nausy sometimes, but technically, they are Premier League all over. No doubt. Add the discipline and ‘game management’ in the mix and we have a side worthy of top half Prem. Can they….???

Eldon Celtic disappointed last term. Whilst ending 5th, the Celtic spent most of the season near the foot of the table after an awful start. Another technically superb side, it’s defensive and vocal discipline that have let them down. In 16/17 they were so close, we can’t see another start like last term. But have they lost the goals….????

We tipped up Finchampstead last term and now, an experienced manager ahead, they could challenge. Another side with technical players, they need to find consistency and add goals to challenge but there is a big points gap between them and the sides above…if they have new faces, they could challenge. If not, middle earth beckons…

Hurst are another side that came back from a poor start to find consistency and after relegation the year before, perhaps have found their level for this team. Led by Townson in midfield, Hurst can beat anyone on their day, but we can’t see more than middle earth again without new player investment. And a proper net for that damn river at the back of the pitch…how many lost balls?

Westwood Reserves really picked themselves off the floor. With 5 wins from their last 6 games, these lads showed they had bottle and moved from the foot to the middle with aplomb. Danny Nicholson is key to this side – the Division’s Golden Boot with 19 in 24 – so if they’ve kept their talisman and invested time in defensive drills, these boys could be one to watch this season…

(is this mention ok lads?)

YMCA Rapids. So much has been said about this club, they really are TVPL Legends. The sheer amount of games put pay to title challenges last term but we’ve no idea how the Firsts have strengthened yet, and how this trickles down to the Padworth Mob. Solid, hard to beat and a nous on how to play on a MASSIVE pitch, Lemm’s Reserve batch will always put up a fight and can beat anyone. Is this the year? Just don’t enter cups and you’ll be alright lads!

Somehow, Rotherfield escaped. It was like Panic Room. They got out somehow, perhaps more down to their rivals collapse. But it didn’t matter. They survived. And now they go again. We feel these boys are like Stoke…don’t really fit in, scrape some games, then blitz a little run together with some amazing football and get themselves safe. But is this the year? These boys really make us scratch our heads but we LOVE how they LOVE proving us wrong! You keep going boys…

A dismal season for Maidenhead Town last term. Changes have been big. The Firsts have signed up to play on #thecarpet at Bisham Abbey, swooping on the Magpies old nest, and with several new faces, we don’t see relegation this term and a solid build on last term. Perhaps too far for a Champions League place, but middle earth looks a safe bet.

 

So there we are. A review with no basis, little information, only social media (and Fake News) as our guide and a slightly wine-eyed view. Shall we go Top Three???

Newbury Champions. Anything else would be failure. But it won’t be easy as they are the team to beat.

Imaan & Cookham Dean as Top 3. Dark horses of Finch and Westwood Ressies for Top 5. Mark our words. Or don’t and spit at your screens. Your choice. But PC World charge £150 to clean fluid on laptops. Believe us.

Agree? Disagree? Think we’re amazing? Want to buy us a present? An expensive one? Perhaps take us out for dinner? We like Gauchos. No, we love Gauchos. And Malbec. Please, someone take us for dinner. Let us know…

www.twitter.com/thamesvalleyPL

#TVPL1

TVPL Division Two Season 17/18 Review!

The last of our 17/18 season reviews before we move to a couple of season previews!

Division Two.

In truth, it ended prematurely! None of the excitement of the D1 or D3 race. We had a runaway twosome, a side left adrift by Feb and 7 teams – from 4th to 10th – split by just 6 points. We did have a great escape however, more on that later…

First, lets check on our prediction…we called South Reading as Champs with White Eagles pulling up in the Top 3. We also did our reviews before we knew FC Woodley were entering, so we like to think we were rather successful (ok, we also called Berks Ressies in Top 3 and they ended bottom, but I’m sure they would be happy to forget that bit).

The Champs, FC Woodley, only lost one of their 20 games in a campaign that the “newcomers” romped. Leading from the front, a title race effectively ended with South Reading’s sticky spell over Xmas where 2 straight losses handed control to the Woodley boys. Yet, games still were won, 99 league goals were scored in just 20 games (averages 5 a game!!!) and it started with a 10-0 back on the opening day! Yup, firepower.

Those SRCC lads had a great term, securing back to back promotions after their previous D4 cakewalk. With Jordan Sawyer & Liam Lewendon 2nd and 3rd in the goal scoring charts – behind a wonderful display from Stefan Allen at Mortimer, 23 goals in 19 game??? – these boys took apart some teams (inc Woodley) but defensive discipline let them down on the big nights – Woodcote & AFC Corinthians away. Still, promotion, hats off.

White Eagles were a way off in 3rd but 3rd it was, losing just 6 games in the process, also earning them promotion (following both other clubs’ demise this summer). A sterling effort given the level playing field in the league, the Eagles will look to build as a tough D1 campaign starts on September 1st!

The rest of the sides just about all beat each other. A little run here and there – notably Woodcote Ressies’ 5 straight wins during April to lift relegation fears and Hurst Ressies winning 5 of their last 7 to avoid the drop, a dramatic escape – there was little to write home about. Some memorable ties perhaps. But no team offering the consistency to join White Eagles on a promotion push.

So, to the awards…

Team of the Season

We’re finding it hard NOT to pick the title winners here this season. It has to be a side that only lost 1 and average 5 goals a game! Yup, FC Woodley.

Overachievers

FC Woodley & South Reading had very good sides, we knew that. So we’re going with White Eagles, who at times in the season, struggled to field teams. On several dates, they played with a bare XI so given they were level with the field, to finish 8 points ahead of that field was a great achievement. Well played.

Underachievers

We liked the look of Marlow Reserves but they really went with Youth, so we can’t say ‘under-performed’ as it’s a learning curve. Great development for the club.

It has to be the D3 Champs Berks County Reserves. So much promise pre-season, to have such a great term, then finish 9 adrift of a pack of teams that weren’t 9 points better than them has to be an under-achievement. We know there were changes at the club, so this is no dig, just a nod to a disappointing season. They’ll be back…this summer has seen big things!

Best Game

Any 10-0 is WOW but shows oppo had issues so we’ll discount the opening day drubbing by FC Woodley. We have to take notice of the Champs’ only loss…a 5-1 hammering by SRCC and our Entertainers Brimpton (sadly now left the TVPL) didn’t disappoint, a 4-4 draw with Woodley in September was a corker!

Mortimer Reserves’ 6-4 over Hurst was clearly action-packed, and part of Hurst’ revival was a 7-3 belter over those Brimpton Boys, a wonderful achievement.

But we’re going back to October and a classic where one player bagged 4 and another 3…a 6-5 super-game at Cantley between AFC Corinthians & Mortimer, the hosts coming out on top. How can that NOT win???

Sportsmen of the Year

Some gentlemanly teams in this Division but we’re plumping for Mortimer Reserves, who hosting skills and fair play efforts shone through. Thanks chaps!

Moaners of the Season

Not really one to label here, but SRCC did kick up a right stink when they got drawn vs Woodcote on a school night (and got beaten). It wasn’t funny.

What You Up To Award

Berks County. Easy one.

The ‘Aly Us’ Follow Me Award

(this one is getting a bit tedious)

Hurst Reserves – just funny. And their season finale snippets were wonderful. As Pele says, keep it up chaps.

Brimpton – no longer part of our league but offer good fun on social media. Good luck for the season boys, we’ll keep any eye out.

Harchy Hawks – new to Twitter, The Berry Brigade will be much more social after crawling from their cave. Welcome.

 

So. Done. Sorry it was all 2 months too late. We aimed for the suspense angle but just forgot. Then went away. Sardinia. Lovely it was. Wonderful fish.

http://www.twitter.com/thamesvalleyPL

 

TVPL Division One 17/18 Season Review!

My gosh we’re tired. This whole newborn baby lark…why didn’t the midwife tell me about the SLEEP. THE SLEEP!!!!! Gave some shpeil about bottles and nappies (and I definitely heard something about the fact they cry?) but WHY NOT TALK ABOUT THE LACK OF SLEEP!

Anyway, our TVPL (p)review continues with Division One and my goodnesss giddy me, what a 2017/18 season it was!

We’ll start by reviewing our predictions from last summer, before going on to accurately predict exactly what will happen this term in probably the most exciting division of all…

And the season just gone was a belter. Wow. And, we called it;

This division will have all the teams beating each other all season. There will not be a runaway leader and the drop will be until the final few games.

The league was one by Richings Park on the last day of the season after a hard-fought 2-0 win…on goal difference! The race was like those daft cyclists…they go for ages then one makes a sprint at the end to win it. May as well just do 100m rather than 568 miles around some mountains.

An incredible season for the TVPL debutants whose structured play and experience ground out wins over more flamboyant sides such as Eldon and Imaan, but controlled games when needed. It’s delightfully rare to have a league winner lose 6 games – 2 more than 3rd place this time round – but it made for a brilliant climax…huge contrats to the Champs. And we know…we got this wrong!

It was Burghfield that made the running all season with a superb term…pipped to the title on goal difference! Another side that had real cohesion to their play, Burghfield were unbeaten until late-November and will surely lament the fact they only picked up 1 point from their last 3 games as they slipped at the last. Still, promotion achieved, something only dreamt about back in August. Superb.

Our call of Magpies as favourites fell part much like they did as they left the league in November after difficulties. We see many of their players are back this season with different sides, hope most enjoy their football this term. So that bet was void.

We also called YMCA Rapids out…until March this looked rosy as they battled on all fronts, reaching – and winning – the League Cup and several other semi-finals. Sadly, playing catch-up ruined their record of 14 unbeaten and a big title shot as they fell away, losing players to injury and multiple midweek ko’s putting pay to any glory.

Finchampstead were another side we called but they failed to make an impact, inconsistent results leaving them in middle earth.

Imaan had a great term with some brilliant football, but not enough experience to make that final push. To finish just 3 points of the title was an incredible achievement and they will no doubt want to step up this term.

Cookham Dean Res will also lament their term as finishing 3rd, just 1 win away from that title shows promise with Burrows Boys (now under the stewardship of Ollie Webb). A brilliant season, making for a superb title race.

We also have to mention Rotherfield here…from seeming doom of relegation, the United pulled 7 points from the last 9 to pull out of trouble, a superb end of term. That form is championship winning stuff…where were those results in October??? Hats off lads, wonderful end to the season.

So, let’s run our ‘Awards’ and see who moans…

Team of the Season

It’s the title winners, no doubt. To come to a new league and win the hardest one to win takes some going. A close runner is Burghfield but no one can dispute this one.

Overachievers

Tough. Could be the Champs but we’re going with Burghfield here…they won D2, sure. But to back to back promotions is something outstanding. We knew Park had some starlets but the B’s were perhaps an even more compact side. Yup, made our choice. Burghfield.

Underachievers

Close call between two…

We called Finchampstead at the start of the term and they will feel 6th place isn’t good enough. It’s always hard rebuilding a side but Finch will look for more this term, no doubt.

But our ‘winners’ here are Maidenhead Town. From a promising 5th place in 16/17 and a hint of promotion, our Boys in Blue fell to a miserable term, finishing 2nd bottom, only escaping relegation by default. We know they hurt and doubt this season will be the same…

Best Game

Rotherfield’s late 3-2 win over Frilsham effectively relegated Frils and kept Rotherfield alive yet it was Frilsham that provided the other 2 ‘best games’!

A wonderful 5-4 classic with Westwood in March would normally win hands down, especially as this at time of need for both sides. But a 6-4 win over Eldon Celtic? A game with 2 hatricks, one for each side? A win from the bottom club over a mid-table side?

Take a Bow Frilsham…sadly no longer with us but your glory will always* be remembered…

*for a week or so anyway.

Sportsmen of the Year

Brilliant hosting from Richings Park and Burghfield this term never goes un-noticed. But the YMCA Rapids take this one from us as a great attitude week in, week out should be applauded.

Moaners of the Season

A no-brainer…sadly it was those pesky Magpies that self-imploded after such promise pre-season. After that point, it was probably Eldon Celtic. Every. Single. Game…

What You Up To Award

Kind of already covered this…Burghfield let the title slip but MTFC had a fall from grace. Town win.

The ‘Aly Us’ Follow Me Award

(this one is getting a bit tedious)

Richings Park – always lively on social media with some ‘real’ messages with humour.

Burghfield – they have the goal flash thingy. That’s wicked!

Imaan Lions – an account to stir debate, they’re also really nice to everyone! We reckon it’s mind games….

 

So there. Review done…we’ll take a little look at the up-coming season later today as Division One kicks off tomorrow!!!

Check us out on www.twitter.com/ThamesValleyPL . Agree with us. Or don’t follow. Fact.

TVPL Premier Division – 17/18 Season Review

With the new season kicking off TOMORROW we thought we had better pull our socks up (note, remember to use the right colour tape) and get this review out there.

And what a season 2017/18 was. It was dominated by an enthralling two-horse title race, emerging forces, fading forces and some familiar nausey behavour from some (you know who you are…). So, bite your tongue, excuse the guaranteed errors and maybe just laugh if we call your team ‘underachievers’ or ‘D1 fodder’. It’s a joke.

So, lets start with the story of the Champions, Reading YMCA. Wow. An unbeaten league campaign with 24 wins out of 26 games. Just re-read that a moment. Yes, there were 3 league walkovers there but two were from the bottom two clubs, where wins probably would have been expected. But to acheive that level of consistency over a whole season – a season where both the League Cup AND the Norfolkian Senior Cup were also won over a 39-game season is simply incredible.

In fact, over 90-mins, YMCA didn’t lose a game all season as their only defeat was on penalties to the EBFL force Langley in the B&B cups, 19-20 on pens (who was that player that missed, hang him!!!).

There were some huge wins as well; a 7-0 demolition of Wokey Sumas, a title-ending put-down to Marlow with a 4-0 away hammering in January along with several 6-1 beatings, leaving a GF of 97 and a GD of +85.

These boys are now unbeaten in the TVPL since March 2016, a marvellous record for a grassroots side that don’t even train. When you throw in their Reserve team also won a League Cup and had a big run in all comps, these really are the boys to beat. Congratulations to Karl Curtis the Gaffa, but as well all know, it’s all those behind the scenes whose hardwork makes this all happen. Clap Clap.

So, we’ve heralded the Champs, lets take a look at the best of the rest…

A wonderful season from Woodcote Stoke Row, who really did take the title race to March, an outstanding effort given the YMCA steam train. It was only them (and a rogue Highmoor Ibis team in May) that took league points off the Champs, a 1-1 draw in October when things were ‘real’. Goals came from all round the front players as to score 87 but only have 1 player in the Top 10 goals shows the attacking ‘team’ threat’ these boys pose. Some big wins over Newbury, Berks County and Westwood showed they had the bottle to take on the big boys and to move from 4th to runners up in a season showed they are progressing…can’t wait for this term. Is a Cup win required?

Westwood had an excellent season coming 3rd after (finally) returning to ‘their level’. In fact, think about that for a minute. To finish above sides such as Marlow, Cookham, Newbury, established Premier teams is a brilliant effort from a team with an average age of 36. A GD of only 20 shows they battle, work hard, never demolish sides but know how to win. Another side that need a Cup run this term to show their players they can do well at Wood.

OK. Now, we need to make sure this lot don’t change their name again. Wright & Unity Sports. That’s it now. They have stewardship, good food and (from recent tweets), cash. So let’s wait for our preview, but it;s safe to say this was a strong season. An incredible start – 13 wins from their first 15 games saw them lead the table in January – saw a collapse after Xmas as no wins in 2 months saw them concede places to the big boys. Another side that need a cup run to back up the superb social media effort…

Newbury. God bless Newbury. Talk about a season of two halves. Mr Danny Langford came in to take the reigns after just an opening day win in their first 7 league games. A revival saw them fly up the table with some big wins, but when you’re up against YMCA, you know the league wrapped up with that form. Outstanding effort after October, but way too late. (Good time to say we feel for their ground issue…this is unofficial, from the person typing this…we’ve spoken to DL and he ‘knows’..).

Marlow & Cookham. What the jeez? Not the season either expected nor wanted. While the former had an incredible ride in the Berks & Bucks, reaching the Cup final but falling at the last, and Sinclair’s Army once again graced the Mad Stad in the League Cup Final (losing to those pesky YMCA crew), the league campaign was not ‘on’. We, and they, expect better things.

Mortimer, Wraysbury and Berks County. Middle Earth. We called it. It happened. Some highlights. Some horror shows. Move on.

Wokingham Emmbrook Reserves joined that cotchel of clubs, sitting between Middle Earth and the dreaded drop, but they joined a group that need to think differently this season in order not to become the Southampton (Hughes era) or Stoke (Pulis era) of the league. They play better football than those boys. But don’t win enough.

The bottom three faced challenges all season and it was clear from the off that Taplow, Woodley Royals & Highmoor Ibis United all faced a tough term. And they did. Some points were picked up when they had the combination of a) full sides with all players available and b) extra help from club players, but all three will be disappointed with the final standings. With all three clubs under-going surgery akin to Michael Jackson in his heyday, we doubt Woodley & Highmoor aka Reading City will be sitting here come May 2019 (and good luck to Taplow in their Hellenic adventure, a brave move, all the best).

So, lets return to our predictions this time last year. We called YMCA champs (it was like calling Man City in truth). We also called Woodcote as the ‘dark horses’ (we’ve just drunk half a pint of wine to congratulate ourselves. A nice Chablis, not any old tat. Feel a bit sick actually). We also called Cookham as our Top Three so annoyed at them for letting us down. Personally. We’ll hold this against you. We also said Marlow Top 5 (with Wraysbury so screw you too) so overall did ok.

But not as well as YOU. It’s the clubs, players and fans that make this league* so thank you for making the Premier League an enjoyable season.

*it’s normally here referees moan about ‘why not thank us too’…we see you as the waiter at a restaurant…we expect you to be good. And you normally are. But don’t leave a hair/obvious penalty claim in our burger/oppo pen area as that’s what we’ll remember.

Unofficial Award Time…

Team of the Season

We’ve done it. YMCA. Move on.

Overachievers

Given we expected YMCA to be brilliant, we’re going with Wright & Unity Sports. Like Woy Hodgson saving Palace, we did not see that coming. To go from 10th to real title contenders, whlist merging young talent, is a feat, so hats off. Special mention to Westwood here as well.

Underachievers

This could be several clubs. Marlow & Cookham were disappointing in the league but played well in the Cups; anyone with something to play for in the last game has done well. Taplow were a strange one, with excellent players romping things in D4, surely a shuffle around could have given their flagship team a helping hand? Also, the resource of Woodley, Wokingham Emmbrook and Highmoor means they shouldn’t be scrabbling about at the foot of our divisions.

But our ‘winners’ here are Berks County. So much effort and time has been put into building this excellent club, to finish 11th after a mid-table effort isn’t conducive to ‘achieving’. Players leaving, management changes and some bad injury luck led to a term that surely won’t be seen again…

Best Game

Marlow teaching Westwood a 6-3 Premier lesson in August was a big one and the 89th minute equaliser for Westwood over Wright Unity in a 3-3 thriller in early Feb ranks high. We’re gonna go with the Sargent trio inspired Westwood 7-3 win over Wrasbury, just because the goals were meant to be decent and 10-goals is a decent return!

Sportsmen of the Year

Berks County picked up the award from the other clubs so well done chaps. Now get nastier and win more.

‘What You Up To’ of the Year

We’re going with Taplow AND Marlow…

Taplow have ballers all over their teams so we can’t understand why they struggle. Guess they suffer from the same issue all clubs do…getting their top players out consistently. Such a good set-up, we don’t get it…what you doing?

Marlow. Oh Marlow. You are YMCA’s ying. Their Barry to Paul. We need you back taking the title charge to May lads. forget the B&B dream now. Go title hunting…

The Aly-Us ‘Follow Me’ Award

(may be lost on some but an American House track that we’ve played 89 times since we remembered it for this posting).

Three Twitter accounts to follow this term in the Premier;

Reading City – so much going on, so many changes, it HAS to be good news for their TVPL campaign. Stay tuned…

Wright Choice Unity – from carribbean food to video training session footage. We can’t wait for these ‘jerks’ to spice up the league this term (those puns were terrible).

Woodcote – no real reason other than they say nice things about us.

 

We’ve got to the point of not really worrying whether people read all this any more. But we will be posting a TVPL Preview late tonight, once we’ve had some fish and chips. Oh. and wine. A lot of wine. We’re on holiday next week so it starts now.

Hit us on @thamesvalleyPL and get on all our clubs!

 

TVPL Division Four 2018/19 Preview!!!

With the TVPL3 & TVPL4 kicking off this Saturday, thought we’d delve into the TVPL basement division and show off the fact that there are some bang tidy teams down here. Historically, some have stayed low to win big, but last year, Twyford Ruscombe did it the right way…4th the year before, build, romp it.

So to this term…let’s ch-ch-check out the players (teams) and their players (players) and see wha’gwannin. Could be exciting. Could be a boring procession. But with so many new and “Development’ sides, lets be cup half full and say it’ll be exciting either way!

We’d like to pick up on the phrase ‘Development Side’. What does this mean? Last year we had half the Taplow Firsts realign to D4 as a 3rd side. At least they didn’t call themselves Dev. We saw Harchy Hawks Dev, but didn’t see too many Yoof faces. Are clubs using this phrase to mask the fact they are just a 3rd team of lads that aren’t getting game-time in their Senior teams? We do see Marlow & Maidenhead Town playing young Reserve or ‘A’ sides, but without the phrase ‘Dev’.

We’d welcome young squads, developing players for Senior football and hope all our clubs are looking to youth to ensure continued numbers and club development. We wait with baited breath as to how young these Dev squads actually are!

Let’s start with those relegated from D3 last term, Taplow Reserves & Reading City Dev.

Taplow find themselves in the odd position that their 3rd team (led by the Mercurial Murtagh) are in the Div above their 2nd team. Work that out. We can’t be bothered so we’ll suggest there’s summat awry here and doubt these chaps will find it easy in D4 this term. But, despite being a young squad, they have experience of playing strong sides so think we’ll see a leveling here after a couple of disappointing seasons.

Reading City are on a high as a club and with relationships and Senior faces seemingly lining up to be involved, we’ve no doubt a young squad will be developing here. We think perhaps too soon for title push, but watch this lot; they could be big soon.

Last season, 5 teams went up so the ‘best of the rest’ and heir to the D4 throne are Berks County Rovers, but with the BC Boss Chris Searle away for a big part of the start, where will the goals come from? Searle’s boys were inconsistent last term but have good players, just lack a stable backline (which plays quite far apart, take this coaching tip for free). Can Rovers Return to glory? Not sure…

AFC Corinthians A are here to enjoy their football. A bunch of gentlemen, Manager Max ensures his ‘boys’ play in the right way. Without sounding harsh, we don’t see glory and titles here, but a well-organised, sporting side that enjoy playing the beautiful game. The passing, positional sense and patterns of play are all there, but perhaps the legs aren’t as forgiving as 20 years ago…;)

Harchester Hawks have had a busy summer and with UEFA coaching badges being sought, we see a side pushing on. With new faces joining the club, the ‘Dev’ side will benefit and Berry’s Boys will have a better term that last season, for sure.

Farnham Mavericks weren’t as maverick as they would have liked, but this really is a ‘Dev’ side with a core of young players fresh from Youth football in Slough. We’ve big admiration for the approach of Mr Maynard and wish his young squad well as they develop into adult football. Again, we don’t see bottom two but new faces are key as several young players have moved on within Slough.

And so to the new sides…in truth, some unknowns here…

Henley are bringing themselves back together and with a new ‘Dev’ side, could prove dangerous this season. We know several high quality players have joined the club in key positions and they have the experience of higher level football, so could be the side to watch this season.

Westwood have pushed on and introduced a Dev side to add to their successful Senior sides. Again, we hope it’s a youthful side as those Westwood lads can’t go on forever! No idea how they will fare but best of luck; we applaud any club with 3+ teams. Superb effort.

Datchet Village Saturdays join us as they venture away from Sunday’s into the real world…again, no idea of strength, but we have a hunch…with the success of Wraysbury and Richings Park into the TVPL, we know there are bucket loads of talented ballers in Slough itching to pass Reading Services West on the M4. Watch. Learn. We say contenders.

Phoenix Old Boys enjoyed a win last term in their introduction to the TVPL and their Ressies look to follow suit. Again, little view on quality but a well-run club that conduct themselves well and will be a welcome addtion to the TVPL.

So, to our predictions. This will be the worst set of the lot as so many news sides and changes to existing ones…

Top Three – Datchet to win it, Henley Dev & Berks County Rovers to make Champs League spots but we have a little hunch on Reading City as well…watch this space.

 

It’s here we invite you to comment, but don’t push yourselves.

Bye.