With Concord Rangers being promoted last season (still struggle to take that in sometimes!) and making their way into the Conference South, I thought it best to have a quick glance at some of the teams (and in turn lengthy journeys) we’ll have the pleasure of enjoying next season! Please note that mileages & journey times are estimates found online, and I am using the initial FA team placement to identify our opponents, the league set-up will be ratified at the AGM later next month.
I’ll start close to home, and the closest team are one that we’ve become accustomed to playing in cup competitions over the years, Chelmsford City. Just 20 minutes down the road, we’ve played & beaten them in the Isthmian Cup this past season and in the Essex Senior Cup the season before. Back in 2009 they beat us to win the Essex Senior Cup that season, so it’s been back and forth over the years. The Clarets are currently without a manager, but by the time the season begins they are bound to be back on track and pushing forward in the league.
The other teams that are within relatively close proximity to the club include Ebbsfleet Utd (40mins), Bromley (55 mins), Bishops Stortford, Tonbridge Angels & Boreham Wood (1hr). Ebbsfleet United were relegated from the Conference Premier last season, finishing 23rd overall after earning just 8 wins throughout the year. The Fleet were the only Conference Premier side to be relegated into the Conference South this season, as the other three teams were placed into the Conference North, and Bishops Stortford were moved from the North to the South division. The “Bishops” have spent the last two seasons in the Conference North after Rushden & Diamonds were expelled from the Football Conference, which has led to some testing journeys over the years, so they’ll be much happier to be back in the South!
Alongside us, Whitehawk (now Brighton City FC) were promoted to the Conference South as champions of the Isthmian Premier League, and we know all about them from our two encounters last season! Gosport Borough were also promoted to the Conference South after winning the playoffs in the Evo-Stick South Premier League, and much like us they are entering this level of football for the first time in the clubs history.
Being at this level of football means that our away days will be longer, with journeys stretching up to nearly 200 miles and well over 3 hours long when travelling by road. From what I could find out, the longest journey for the Beachboys this season will be 195 miles down the road to Weston Super Mare, a journey which will take around 3 and a half hours. Add to that the journey back, and the lads will be in for a very long day. Slightly closer (but not by much) are Dorchester Town (176 miles), Bath City (170 miles) and Eastleigh (125 miles), all taking between 2hrs 10 mins & 3hrs to get to! Obviously it’s not just us making these trips, our opponents will be doing the same when they visit us, but they do look like some excessively long and drawn out trips. The key will be when the fixtures are (released in early July), as a 390 mile round trip wont be fun on a Tuesday night!
One of the other teams of note will be Sutton United, where Tom Lovelock is the custodian of the goal. Tom spent a period of time on loan with the Beachboys this past season, turning in some excellent performances including in the penalty shootout cup victory over Chelmsford City. I would love to have seen Tom back at Concord Rangers but best of luck to him there, except when playing us of course.
I could spend all day going into detail on the teams in this, such are the stories and histories associated with them, but I don’t wish to bore you all to tears (if I haven’t already). Next season will be a massive one for the club without a doubt, and I for one am looking forward to the challenges it’ll bring!
You Are My Concord!