It’s been a while since I last blogged, mainly due to so much happening at the business end of the football season and in some cases waiting for things to finish or be confirmed before I wrote anything.
My feature here is my home town of Sevenoaks. Having grown up in Otford for the first 18 years of my life, Oaks were the rivals and the battles between both clubs in the Kent County League Premier Division during the 80’s were fantastic. Both sides were regularly in the top 5 until Sevenoaks began to pull away and Otford suffered relegation, and until this season competed under Premier Division level.
Sevenoaks meanwhile won the title 3 times in 10 years and took promotion to what is now the Southern Counties East League in 2003. A creditable 11th place finish in their first season with a majority of players who moved up a level and performed well. Since that season, the club has built sensibly off the pitch as well as on and have grown into a progressive club aiming high.
Last season was definitely seen as the breakthrough one for the club, the 2nd Qualifying Round for the FA Cup was reached for the first time ever, they were Premier Division Challenge Cup winners and finished top 3 in the league. The next step? Promotion!
First of all the club, in conjunction with and help from the District Council, laid down a 3G pitch and replaced the old floodlights with a more economical version giving the club a real place in the community and incomes streams 52 weeks of the year, 24 hours a day, vital lifeblood to any non-league club these days with more and more clubs looking to go down this route.
Secondly, Micky Collins and his coaching staff delivered on the pitch and with a game remaining are heading into the Bostik League South Division for the first time in their history, going up as champions having lost just 4 games at the time of writing. This wasn’t an easy championship to win, pushed hard all the way by both Whitstable Town and Crowborough Athletic, two clubs who have previous experience of the level above. Town will join Sevenoaks in promotion due to the non-league re-structure going on above them and it be interesting to see how they cope with increased travelling, increased costs and higher wages being asked for.
What they do have is a vibrant junior set up which may well bear fruit as they look to sustain themselves and possibly even look to push on even further up the pyramid. There is a number of Kent derbies that will off-set some of the travelling and hopefully bring in some good size crowds.
Whatever happens it promises to be an exciting first Bostik League season for all at Greatness Park, promotion can be a good momentum for some clubs, Sevenoaks already have some both on and off the pitch, definitely a case of ‘watch this space’ for the Oaks in 2018/19.