The 2015/16 season has come to a close, and with it we say goodbye to Sutton United and Maidstone United (promoted), and to Basingstoke Town, Hayes & Yeading United and Havant & Waterlooville (relegated). On behalf of Concord Rangers I would like to wish all these clubs the best as they aim for their various goals next season.
Of course, with the National League South losing those 5 teams, we also have 5 new teams that will be joining us for the 2016/17 season, and as a result of their geographical locations 4 of our new teams are promoted ones ready to make an impact and continue their rise.
We’ll start though with the lone relegated side to join us, and it’s a team we’ve met before in FA Cup qualifying a few years back (we were denied a legit Harry Elmes goal for “offside”). Welling United had a tough 2015/16 season in the National League, and finished bottom with just 35 points. New manager Mark Goldberg will be looking to rebuild the side and return to the National League at the earliest opportunity. For the Beachboys it’ll be just over an hours journey to south London for this fixture.
One of the longest journeys added to our itinerary for next season is the three & a half hour drive (at least) down to the south coast where we will face Poole Town, a side who were promoted from the Southern Premier League having won the division by 9 points, and losing just 7 games over the year. Also promoted from the Southern Premier are Hungerford Town, who finished 4th in the league on 83 points (2nd place had 84, 5th 81, so it was close) and had to overcome both Hitchin Town and Leamington in the playoffs.
Winners of the Ryman Premier League last season were Hampton & Richmond Borough, who were second highest scorers in the league (105, 2 behind East Thurrock United), and won the league by a single solitary point over Bognor Regis Town.
Last but not least, there’s the closest of the new teams in the league to us, that being East Thurrock United. This is a team we have a long and storied history with, and one we continue to have a good relationship with to this day (a factor evident during the playoffs when a number of Concord players/fans were there to cheer them on). There’s a long list of players that have pulled on the shirts of both clubs, some of which are still at the clubs now and there’s too many to list here.
Next season will be another tough one, nothing is easy at this level, but I’m sure the lads will be working their socks off to make sure we continue to make history as a club. See you all in a few weeks for preseason!
You Are My Concord!