The Vanarama National League South playoff final took place this past Saturday with Ebbsfleet United beating Chelmsford City, and with that the 2016/17 NLS season officially came to a close. However it’s not taken too long for the focus to already move to the upcoming 2017/18 season, with the FA announcing the league allocations (subject to any appeals that is). Obviously we lose Ebbsfleet, champions Maidenhead, and the relegated sides of Margate, Gosport Borough and Bishop’s Stortford, but we welcome the following sides to the Vanarama National League South….
Braintree Town come in to the National League South having been relegated from the National League, finishing 22nd overall. They have been in the National League for 6 seasons and even made the playoffs during 2015/16, losing in the first round against eventual winners Grimsby Town. Concord Rangers will be playing Braintree next season for the first time in league competition, already having come up against them in friendlies and of course the Essex Senior Cup.
A new club for The Beachboys to visit will be Chippenham Town, who earned promotion to the National League South as champions of the Evo-Stick Southern League Premier Division, notching up 103 points in their 31 win season. The Bluebirds have been in the SLP since before the Conference level divisions were reorganised, and since then have made the playoffs 5 times for winning the league this past year.
Havant & Waterlooville are familiar faces to Concord Rangers, having been relegated from the National League South after the 2015/16 season, and now make their return to the league, earning promotion at the first attempt as champions of the Ryman Isthmian League Premier Division. The Hawks finished just 2 points clear of the side in second place….
That team was Bognor Regis Town, who have earned their promotion to the Vanarama National League South having beaten both Wingate & Finchley and Dulwich Hamlet in the playoffs. This was the third time lucky for the club, having lost in the playoffs in both 2013/14 and 2015/16. The Rocks were promoted in the same fashion to the Isthmian Premier for the 2012/13 season (Concords last season at that level before earning promotion to the National League South), and are welcome additions to the league.
Finally, due to the amount of northern teams either relegated or promoted to this level, Gloucester City have been transferred from the National League North into the National League South for the 2017/18 season. The Tigers are currently exiled from Gloucester (since the 2007 floods), and will be playing their games for the coming season at Evesham United, a near 3 hour drive across the country.
Don’t forget, the 2017/18 league fixtures are usually released early in July, so keeps your eyes peeled on the club twitter feed and the website for all the information!