Overview

The close season restructuring of non league football has seen huge developments as far as the Combined Counties League is concerned.

Sutton Common Rovers have been promoted and the league will now operate with two premier divisions (north and south) as well as a division 1.

Eight division 1 clubs have left the league.

We shall be saying goodbye, for the time being at least, to Ash United, Chessington & Hook United, Dorking Wanderers Reserves, Epsom & Ewell, Fleet Spurs, Godalming Town, Tooting Bec and Westside, all departing for either the Southern Combination or the Southern Counties East League.

13 clubs are coming to us on a lateral transfer plus a further 10 elevated from Step 6 or 7 who were in other leagues this time last season. 

CCL Premier Division South

With a full complement of 20 teams, CCL Premier South looks a strong division with some fascinating new additions from the Southern Counties East League and division 1 promotions.

12 clubs remain from last season and the close season vibe is that Badshot Lea and Guildford City are moving forward and should be respected.

Based on last season, Knaphill should be fine and Sheerwater as well if they settle into their new ground. Improvement will be needed fro Cobham, Camberley Town, Redhill and Raynes Park Vale but it is interesting to see so many changes and ground improvements happening as membership of the league becomes more difficult.

Molesey struggled last season and they are looking for a new manager who will need to bed in quickly. Banstead Athletic are a bit of a dark horse and their working relationship with Sutton United should help their cause. Frimley Green will need further improvement.

Of the three promoted sides, Farnham Town look very progressive as do Walton & Hersham and it would be no surprise if they are nearer the top of the league. 

Most people, however, believe Jersey Bulls will go through this division thus emulating their island rivals Guernsey and we can't argue with that at all.

Four clubs move across from the Southern Counties East and in Balham, Horley Town and AFC Croydon Athletic it is a welcome return to the CCL.

Balham will be there or thereabouts while Horley look to be improving. Croydon will need a good start to ease any nerves. The other newcomer is Beckenham Town, a lovely enclosure and a quality pitch and, therefore, a welcome addition and they should go well.

As with Premier North, a sole club has joined from the Wessex League in Fleet Town and they will spend a lot of time whizzing up the A3. It may have been more sensible geographically letting them join Tadley Calleva in the north division making two divisions of 19 sides but at least this way, no CCL premier club should have a free Saturday!

That leaves just Colliers Wood United with their new manager and squad.

It is difficult to predict how we will go without sounding arrogant but we are hopeful of a settled side under our new management team and the ongoing improvements at Wibbandune are a testament to our plans for the future.

Add to that two new under 18 teams and a full colts section now on board and there are optimistic aspirations around SW20.

We expect Balham and Badshot Lea to be the closest challengers to Jersey Bulls.

CCL Premier Division North

For some reason known only to the FA, our Premier Division North will run with just 18 clubs but it looks a very competitive division including 7 from last season's CCL. And of those, strong cases for the title must be made for Hanworth Villa and Ascot United who have been ultra competitive in recent seasons.

Add to these Southall, Spelthorne Sports and Abbey Rangers and it looks hard to see any of the newcomers making any real inroads re the promotion places. CB Hounslow United and Egham Town will need to overcome their recent ground issues to add to their stability.

Six clubs have arrived from the Hellenic League including Windsor (past members of the CCL) and Reading City (once Highmoor Ibis FC). Burnham and Virginia Water are the other two sides.

Binfield's run to the FA Vase final suggests that the Hellenic League is pretty strong and it would be no surprise to see any of these clubs near the top of the division. Holyport and Wokingham & Emmbrook have been promoted and may find the league a bit sharp in their first season.

3 sides have joined from the SSML premier division and in Wembley and North Greenford United it is a return to the CCL. Edgware Town are the other club but it is difficult to make a strong case for these clubs based on last season. St Panteleimon are another fascinating addition having been promoted from SSML division 1 and should be OK.

So, given the geography of the division, Tadley Calleva, who have joined from the Wessex League, must feel a little aggrieved at their transfer, especially as there were many clubs leaving the CCL whose location was more suitable.

Our opening paragraph will, surely feature the champions and we suggest Hanworth Villa who are building a new dynasty at The Ranch it would appear.

 

CCL Division 1

We have a new look 21 team division 1 this season with just 9 clubs remaining from last season's curtailed group. This makes this a hard division to predict with clubs joining from the Spartan South Midlands, Hellenic and Middlesex County leagues and with only sparse form to go by.

Of those retained, FC Deportivo Galicia and Kensington & Ealing Borough finished 5th and 8th and should figure towards the business end. Bedfont & Feltham and Sandhurst Town should go well while we expect improvement from AFC Hayes while British Airways should continue to be competitive if a little inconsistent.

Bagshot may find life tough again while Cove and Eversley & California should see continued improvement.

Of the new clubs from the SSML, London Lions and Rayners Lane look likely challengers but it is hard to make any strong case for Enfield Borough or Hillingdon Borough on last season's form.

Of the Hellenic league clubs joining, Wallingford Town, who have played in the CCL as AFC Wallingford look the best hope while AFC Aldermaston should be competitive though it looks like Chalvey Sports, Woodley United and Langley may find the pace too strong.

Berks County look an interesting addition from the Thames Valley League.

Finally, two sides are promoted from the Middlesex League in Hilltop and London Samurai and reports suggest that both sides play attractive football.

Division 1 really is a hotch potch of a league but an intriguing one nonetheless.

With so little real knowledge regarding close season activity at the varios clubs, and sketchy form from last season, we offer a tentative tip for Kensington & Ealing Borough who have been a match for anyone at this level over the past two seasons.