The Season That Never Was – Premier Division
It may not exist in history but we know it happened as we saw it unfold. The 2019-20 Season was reaching it’s climax when brought to a sudden end, denying us from a thrilling finale and preventing two sides the chance of a much deserved promotion.
The results may have been expunged but they still appear in my unfinished folder so as I flick through it and reminisce I will share the highlights with you as we look back at the Premier Division edition of ‘The Season That Never Was.’
20 teams kicked-off the campaign, all with the hopes and dreams that this could be their year. We had been treated to such highs last time around, with a couple of classic Cup Finals, the Title decided in the dying moments and a day out at Wembley to cap it all off. Surely we had no chance of competing with that one? If the first day was anything to go by no we didn’t, as we saw 3 goalless games on a low scoring afternoon. Some of the so-called ‘fancied’ teams started off well though, but only just. Beckenham, Corinthian and Chatham all saw success by a single goal, while a last minute winner saw Tunbridge Wells return from Sheppey United with the 3 points.
A further midweek win for the Chats meant that they led the early table while Fisher followed them after victory in the live streamed game with new boys Welling Town.
The FA Cup arrived early in the Campaign and proved to be a tough day out for most of our teams. AFC Croydon, Sheppey United, Tunbridge Wells, Erith & Belvedere and Beckenham Town did achieve wins against teams from outside our league though while Glebe and Canterbury City made it past more familiar opposition. Punjab United may have been knocked out of the competition but the BBC’s favourite Club gained attention from far and wide with their home tie with Broadbridge Heath being aired online.
Back in the league and Corinthian continued their strong start with a home win against Sheppey United while Tunbridge Wells win against Fisher showed that they were sure to be among the contenders this season. At Cobdown, Harvey Brand scored early and late to help Beckenham Town beat K Sports and the table began to look as expected, although it was still early days.
In the following week we saw the first ‘wow’ result as Bearsted thrashed Crowborough Athletic 8-0. James Bessey-Saldanha hit a couple of those for the Bears as he showed that he could be a striker to keep an eye on. The K Sports defence failed to keep an eye on Dan Bradshaw as he scored a brace to get the ‘Ites’ off and running while Lordswood continued to sneak under the radar with a win at home to Punjab United. Erith & Belvedere drew 1-1 at Chatham in a result that may have surprised a few. Not the Deres fans though, who had seen their side achieve the same scoreline in all 5 games so far this season.
First defeats soon came for Beckenham, at home to Glebe, and Chatham, away at Canterbury, while Tunbridge Wells hit the top after a win at Welling Town.
The FA Cup showed it’s face again and with it came little luck. The only Premier Division side to make it through were Sheppey United but we were always going to have a winner from their tie as they came up against Glebe.
Not in FA Cup action Corinthian were able to keep their unbeaten start in the league going, as did Hollands & Blair, who narrowly saw off Lordswood thanks to a Harry Goodger finish.
As we approached the end of a busy first month we saw midweek wins for Beckenham, Tunbridge Wells, Glebe, AFC Croydon and Bearsted while the big game of the week saw the points shared as Sheppey United and Chatham Town drew 2-2.
The final day of August brought with a mix of League and Cup action. It the first phase of FA Vase matches and there was much success for our teams with the highlight being a 5-0 home win for Punjab United over Selsey.
The three League matches that closed out the first month were very entertaining with 20 goals being scored by the 6 teams taking part. Bearsted edged Hollands & Blair in a 7-goal thriller, Canterbury City were 4-1 winners over Fisher while Paul Vines hit a hat-trick as Chatham Town handed Corinthian their first league loss.
The Manager of the Month Award deservedly went to Richard Styles as he got off to life in his new job at the Culverden by winning all 4 league games.
Luke Tanner found himself at the top of the scorers charts but was closely followed by the likes of Bradshaw, Vines, Harding and Bessey-Saldanha.
Welling Town started September strongly. An FA Vase win against Erith Town was followed by a 5-3 victory at home to Deal Town with Joel Thompson scoring a hat-trick at the Bayliss for the Boots.
The other promoted side, Erith & Belvedere, stunned the early leaders, Tunbridge Wells, by sending them away from Park View Road empty handed. A first loss for the Wells coming on a day that also saw fellow high-flyers Corinthian defeated as Canterbury City continued their decent start to the season with the win at Salters Lane.
Chatham Town’s Jack Evans had made many sit up and take note with his impressive displays in the opening weeks and by netting 4 at Crowborough he now headed the scoring charts, with his team more importantly now leading the table. A 5th loss in 6 league games meant that the Crows were near the foot of the table but it was a worse start for Punjab United who after 5 consecutive losses found themselves at the bottom.
The SCEFL’s adventures in the FA Cup ended with Sheppey departing on the 10th September but just a few days later we were to have some good news when the next round of the FA Vase took place. 11 Premier Division sides advanced in a competition our teams are beginning to excel in with big victories coming for Welling Town (7-1), Beckenham Town (6-0), and Erith & Belvedere (9-2).
In a mixed week for Corinthian, a hat-trick from Josh Stirman helped them to a 5-0 win at home to Erith Town before a few days later and Welling Town left Longfield with the points after an excellent performance saw them pick up a 2-1 win. That was to be the best of 7 consecutive wins for the Boots.
It was all change in Chislehurst as a Rocky start for Glebe signalled a change of management. Gary Alexander took over the helm and with him came some big name talent, including Jamie Philpot, who scored on debut in a draw at Punjab.
Bearsted continued to score for fun, although at the Culverden the hosts matched their 4 goals and the points were shared. On the same day the rest of the teams at the top all won, including an improving Sheppey United, who hit AFC Croydon for six.
In the midweek that followed the Ites won again, Corinthian were held for the second game running, Blair beat the Chats and Tunbridge Wells turned on the style to thrash K Sports 7-0.
The month ended with some big games and big scorelines. Beckenham beat Bearsted 4-2, Corinthian saw off Tunbridge Wells, Sheppey hit 5 past the Crows and K Sports bounced back with 2 quickfire wins including a 4-0 home victory against Lordswood.
Ernie Batten walked off with the Manager of the Month Award as his side failed to concede or drop a point throughout the month.
Jack Evans led the scoring charts ahead of teammate Harry Harding but the big news from Chatham Town at the end of September was the resignation of Manager James Collins, despite his team being at the top of the table.
October saw the arrival of two new managers into our fold and strangely the fixture list gave us an instant head-to-head between the two. Scott Lindsey’s Chatham Town hosted Ajay Ashanike’s Fisher with each earning a debut point in a 0-0 draw. Beckenham Town moved to the top after 3 quick victories. A 6-1 win at AFC Croydon followed a late winner at Tunbridge Wells and a Steven Townsend hat-trick against Crowborough.
Around the same time Glebe edged a 7-goal thriller with Bearsted and Danny Gannon returned to action after a two year injury lay-off to find the net at home to K Sports.
The FA Vase again came knocking and pitted a few of our teams against each other. Welling Town, Corinthian, Fisher and Chatham all made it through, as did Glebe who won 5-3 at Peacehaven. A week later Deal Town joined them after coming back from 3-1 down to beat Westside.
Next-up was the Kent FA Senior Trophy first round which saw many Premier v First Division games. Erith Town, Sheppey United and Beckenham Town all won 7-0 while Lordswood could only manage 6 at Erith & Belvedere. The disappointment of the round was an amateurish performance by an under-strength Chatham side who departed the competition with a heavy defeat at West Wickham.
Back in the league and Crowborough’s poor start continued when they lost 5-2 to AFC Croydon then by the same score to Glebe a week later while a late Regan Corke double helped K Sports shock Chatham. Bearsted took a first minute lead at Sheppey but still lost 4-1 and Punjab United finally got a win, in their 10th game of the campaign.
As the month drew to a close Welling Town continued an impressive unbeaten run by defeating Sheppey United, Erith Town saw off Deal Town and Nodi Bobomurodov hit a hat-trick in Bearsted’s 8-1 thrashing of Erith & Belvedere.
Corinthian then saw their title hopes damaged with defeat at AFC Croydon but, as it turned out, that was to be their last defeat in the League this season.
The Manager of the Month Award went the way of Adam Woodward as his Erith Town side won all 6 of their games while Jack Evans stood firm in the scoring charts with Dan Bradshaw and Luke Tanner closing in.
Hollands & Blair started November with a bang. A 9-2 win against Crowborough came before a 7-1 victory against Erith & Belvedere with Harry Goodger getting back-to-back trebles.
Welling Town, Glebe, Chatham, Deal Town and Corinthian all won through in the Vase to give the SCEFL 5 teams in the Third Round Proper for the first time ever.
Prior to every result vanishing Sheppey United got to see 10-0 win disappear into folklore. 8 at the break soon turned into double figures but Greenwich Borough couldn’t last the distance, so that game never happened.
Before the Cups came back into focus Punjab United and Deal picked up good wins but it was still Becks leading the Chats at the top with Corinthian, Sheppey, Blair and Wells all close by and right in the mix.
In the KST Lordswood, Corinthian, Glebe, Beckenham and Sheppey were among the teams still going strong while the Challenge Cup saw success for Punjab United, Tunbridge Wells, Erith Town and Chatham Town among others.
In the league the month closed out with a low scoring weekend except at Salters Lane where Canterbury City scored 4.
4 was the number of SCEFL teams that then won in the FA Vase as Welling Town lost to Chatham, who joined Deal, Glebe and Corinthian in the next phase.
Six wins from six meant that Michael Golding took the Manager of the Month Award while Dan Bradshaw took his place at the top of the scoring charts.
December began with a Sheppey win at the Culverden and defeat for Canterbury City at K Sports. Punjab United won at Glebe while Erith Town shocked Chatham. Deal Town beat the Rams and Corinthian picked up a quickfire 6 points without conceding.
Bearsted started the month with a couple of 4-0 Cup victories but saved their best performance for the 14th when they turned over the leaders Beckenham Town. On the same day Lordswood and Hollands & Blair picked up nice wins, Crowborough collected a rare 3 points thanks to a last minute Andrew Dalhouse winner against K Sports and Sheppey United hit 5 past Erith & Belvedere.
In the weekend before Christmas the fixture list was heavily hit by awful weather, something we were to see quite a lot over the next few months.
The only game to take place on the 21st came on plastic where Dan Bradshaw was fantastic, netting 4 in a 7-1 Sheppey win at Cobdown.
When it rains it pours for Canterbury City. Manager Clive Cook unhappily departed, his team followed him out and a new man was sent for to try and pick up the pieces. Merry Christmas everybody.
After the festivities we surprisingly managed to get a decent amount of action on the final matchday of 2019. Deal Town took advantage of Canterbury’s problems, Chatham edged out Sheppey in front of 927 spectators and Erith & Belvedere put on a season-best performance against Glebe.
Kevin Stevens picked up the Manager of the Month Award for guiding Bearsted to a 100% winning record throughout the month, Beckenham finished the year on top and Dan Bradshaw extended his lead in the search for a Golden Boot.
New year, new Punjab United as Chipie Sian and his team kicked off 2020 with 3 consecutive wins. A loss for Beckenham saw the contenders all close in especially the following week when Dan Bradshaw scored a last minute equaliser at Eden Park Avenue. Luke Medley scored the only goal of the game against K Sports beginning a 7-game run that would see him hit the net in every match. The new look Canterbury City found their feet earlier than most thought they would and picked up a victory over high scoring Bearsted.
In the middle of the month the FA Vase returned giving 4 of our teams the chance to continue with their dreams of Wembley. The draw was a nightmare for Glebe though and the tournament favourites knocked them out. Chatham came up against Corinthian, with the Hoops going through, while the other Hoops drew with Binfield before travelling up north for the replay. Then in one of the moments of the season Deal Town took the hosts all the way to penalties and when every player had taken one, and we still had no winner, goalkeeper James Tonkin stepped up to send the SCEFL side through sparking epic scenes.
In the Kent Senior Trophy 8 became 4 with Corinthian, Bearsted, Beckenham and Sheppey making up a strong quartet while Erith Town followed a stunning London Senior Cup win at Welling United with a further victory over Tooting & Mitcham. The Brentford B side would await the Dockers in the last 4.
Back in the league and K Sports were hitting some form. A Matt Gething hat-trick against Welling Town impressed all except the Kent Messenger, while a few days later George Benner hit a 90th minute equaliser at Star Meadow, after the hosts thought they had scored the winner just 60 seconds earlier.
Big news then broke with Greenwich Borough calling it a day. Many unlucky teams immediately dropped places in the table thanks to us hearing the word ‘expunged’ for the first time in a long time, but unfortunately not the last.
In the Challenge Cup we were now down to 8 teams, with 6 of them coming from the Premier Division. Erith Town were one of those after preventing Corinthian the chance of a clean trophy sweep.
The month closed out with 5-0 wins for Tunbridge Wells and Sheppey United, victories for Corinthian and Hollands & Blair while Bearsted picked up 6 quick points thanks to the goalscoring exploits of James Bessey-Saldanha.
Before February arrived we had time for an overhaul at Park View Road. Owen Jones called it a day and many players followed him out of the door. An interim boss quickly assembled a new young side while Paul Springett returned to the Deres to oversee things from above.
Simon Halsey claimed the top boss award thanks to his Hollands & Blair side staying unbeaten throughout the month. Despite losing his Greenwich goals Dan Bradshaw was still giving defences a mean time and led the scoring chartswith his closest competitior about to leave the competition.
We were straight into action in February as the 1st of the month brought us a full set of Premier Division fixtures, including some big match-ups. Sheppey United prevented Corinthian from scoring for only the second time this season yet had to share the points as not even Bradshaw could net in that one. Blair went to the Bauvill but came away empty handed as Ryan Palmer showed the Chats fans that he would do anything for his new club. Leaders Beckenham kept their distance at the top thanks to Ryan Hall delivering against the Paperboys as did Josh Frogatt, who hit four at the Mayfield Stadium to keep Tunbridge Wells in sight of the summit.
In Otham, Bessey-Saldanha hit three against Crowborough Athletic, Micky Collins was impressed and the race for the Golden Boot was over. The Crows defence was leaky the following week too as Welling Town hit four, leaving the team from East Sussex bottom of the pile.
Hollands & Blair also hit 4, to beat the Rams, while Punjab United prevented Becks from scoring for the only time this league campaign. K Sports had no trouble scoring when the Deres came to town. They hit 7, Matt Gething scored 3 and even the local paper couldn’t ignore him this time.
Fisher’s win at Lordswood came in the middle of a nice unbeaten run and now the South London boys no longer had to look over their shoulders.
There was no game for Tunbridge Wells as once again their home pitch couldn’t handle the weather. We wouldn’t see any league action at the Culverden this calendar year leaving Wells struggling to catch the leaders.
The Kent Senior Trophy had reached it’s final 4. Dan Bradshaw scored 3 and with Corinthian we had 2. That was 1 final exciting final we had ahead of us.
The Challenge Cup was also reaching it’s latter stages. Glebe were still in it but finding a date for their semi with Wells was no easy task. while Chatham Town would face First Division opposition in their double-headed tie.
The FA Vase Fifth Round brought mixed results. It was to be the end of the road for Deal Town but Corinthian ploughed on after beating Sporting Khalsa 3-1.
In a busy week for the green and white hoops Cup success was followed by the same in the league. A 4-1 win against K Sports followed a 5-1 victory over Welling Town meaning that Corinthian had every chance of being the bride this year.
Welling Town quickly came back to dish out a good hiding of their own. Erith & Belvedere were the victims as Welling left Welling as 7-2 victors.
Dan Bradshaw continued his one man vendetta against Premier Division defences. An equaliser against Blair was followed by 3 more against Becks as Sheppey touched the top and things began to get spicy.
Danny Gannon made sure Erith Town’s midweek journey to Deal was worth it before the hosts bounced then back to beat Punjab United.
Louie Clarke claimed the match ball as Fisher marched on and the Crows came off the bottom after a win at AFC Croydon.
The month closed out with some big wins for the Chats. Ryan Palmer hit half of his teams 8 at Erith & Belvedere before netting 1 of 5 against promotion rivals Wells.
Big wins in the League and Cups saw Michael Golding win the top chief honours while Dan Bradshaw still had a double figure lead in his quest for gold.
The job of March was to be our penultimate month. It was to fail on that task.
On the 3rd March we had 4 Premier Division games. All ended in home wins with 22 goals by the hosts and 0 conceded. It was 3 for the Bears, 4 for Becks and 5 for Canterbury but the biggest winners were Corinthian as they hit 10(ten) against Erith & Belvedere. Not the ideal start for the new boss of the Deres.
The following weekend saw Crows end Blairs slim promotion hopes, Glebe thrash the Sports and Lordswood hand the Rams yet another loss. Sheppey, Beckenham and Chatham all picked up wins as did Corinthian but not in the League. Their FA Vase quarter final was an epic. 3-2 down in the final stages the Hoops came back and thanks to a last minute Oloyede strike the Wembley Arch was still in sight.
And then on to the day that was to be the last. Others had already called it a day but the SCEFL gave it one last go. Beckenham kept another clean sheet to stay top, the other big boys all picked up points, yet it was all to be in vain.
It was all over. There were bigger things at hand. Football was no more. Football was not important. Bill Shankly was wrong.
The debates soon began though. How do we resolve the season? Who goes up? Who wins the silverware?
That’s easy said the FA. Nobody. The season didn’t happen.
Some agreed, many didn’t, but no decision was going to please everyone.
It would have been great to reward those that performed best but it wasn’t to be.
For now football isn’t the most important thing in the world.
It’s time to stay in, be safe, listen to the advice and hope and pray that when it all begins again, whenever that may be, that we can look around us and see all of the same faces that we had always seen before.
– Games – 251
– Goals – 913
– Average – 3.63
– Season Completed – 77%
– Top Scorers – Sheppey Utd – 80
– Best Defence – Beckenham Town – 30
– Golden Boot – Dan Bradshaw
– Player of the Season – Jack Evans
– Team of the Year – Corinthian
– Beckenham’s defensive record
– Bearsted’s attack
– Sheppey’s Goalscoring record
– Teams improved Social Media Prescence
– Crazy Attendances
– Canterbury’s quick recovery
– Bauvill Stadium
– High scoring games
– Our strength in the FA Vase
– Punjab Utd on the BBC
– Unbeaten runs
– People filming goals and games
– Increased SCEFL content out there
– Match Photographers
– Being denied a title race
– Global Pandemics
– Bad Weather
– Abandoned Games
– The word ‘Expunged’
Written by Dean with the aim of summarising the Season That Never Was.
Keep Safe Everyone.
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