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 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…

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#TVPL1

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.