There will be 17 teams in the Kent County Premier Division this season and all have been busy over the summer preparing for what looks to be a fascinating campaign ahead of us.
Here is a quick club by club guide as to who has been doing what…
Newly promoted Ashford FC are sure to relish life in the Premier Division. Manager, John Ripley has lined up a good mix of pre-season games, that started with a win over Rochester City and included a high scoring draw with Metrogas. Kennington are to come next week.
Bermondsey Town drop down from the SCEFL First Division, from where they really struggled last term following their big leap over this very league. The Club have a whole host of new sponsors on board aswell as a new Management Team of Stuart Wilson and Dwight Barnett. It’s hard to know what to expect from a team that are yet to find their appropriate level but the experiences of last year will no doubt come in handy.
Division One West winners Bexley FC will be eating at the top table this season and to make that transition easier have brought in a couple of eye-catching summer signings. Former Phoenix Sports duo Zak Bryon and Jack Hopkins have spent much of the past decade playing Step 4 football but with the centre-midfielders now on board at Bexley, hopes are high for another successful year ahead.
Champions Borden Village won it the hard way last year, with a slow start covered by an incredible winning run up the home straight. With the league looking even tougher than ever this year they will need to hit the ground running if they are going to defend that belt but few would count out joint bosses Matt Rowe and Conor Twomey, after what they duo achieved last year.
Chipstead’s return to the Premier Division went well last year with a top three finish the least that they deserved for their efforts. With the depth of the Division stepping up a gear this season the Chips will have to step up their game too but with the experiences of last time in their locker this tight nit outfit could well be in the mix at the top end once more.
With 19 wins from their 22 League games Cuxton 91 were mightily impressive on their way to Division One Gold last term. Promotion was the reward for those efforts and we now eagerly await seeing how Adam Overton’s side will fit in.
Fleetdown United earned themselves a 6th place finish last year building on from 7th spot the season before and giving them the consistency at this level that many others would love to have. Their defensive record in 2022/23 was as good as any in the Division and more of the same from Jimmy Martin’s team this time will help in seeing this Club’s progression further continue.
Halls AFC ended in 5th place in their first attempt at the Premier Division last season, a very good stepping stone to build from for this club with big dreams. Another step up on the playing field and a few boxes ticked off the pitch could see the SCEFL come calling – it almost happened this year, will it happen next?
Hawkinge Town have kept fairly quiet over the summer break so it’s pretty hard to take a guess at where they will figure in the make up of the Premier Division table. Last season yielded a safe and steady 9th place finish, which was a step back from the 6th position earned in the previous campaign – can they learn from that step back and climb the ladder again?
Of all Kent County Prem teams, Ide Hill have been the most visible during the break. Squad retentions have been confidently displayed and new signings proudly announced – and rightly too, as Ide Hill look to have brought together a very strong squad.
Bearsted have been raided for the experienced and prolific Dawid Baranowski plus defensive strengths of Cameron Croucher while the SCEFL itself has been called upon to provide the pre-season opposition – with no less that seven of the friendly games this month coming against Steps 5 and 6 clubs from the county.
That is the sort of preparation made by a club with big intentions.
Keep an eye on Ide Hill, they could be the dark horses for the honours this campaign.
The heartbreak suffered on the final day of last season does not take away the fact that the 2022/23 campaign was a stunning one for Minster FC. To finish second in the table following promotion the previous year is a great achievement and should inspire this Club to go one step further this time around.
Friendlies against the likes of Deal Town and Ramsgate should tee Minster up nicely for another run at the title.
Management changes severely hampered New Romney during the 2022/23 season, with the club unable to get the consistent performances that we saw from them the previous year. Just like in 2021/22 they did have an impressive home record though and the Maude Pavilion will once again have to become a fortress if they are to get themselves among the leaders this campaign.
All in all, the 2022/23 league season will go down as a disappointing one for Peckham Town, with the club finishing in 11th place after being runners up in the previous campaign.
The Menace have lined up some tough encounters for this pre-season to hopefully get them in the right place, with the games having taken place so far bringing in decent sized crowds a good level of media attention.
With attendances like they are at the Menace Arena lots is often expected from Mary Phillips side – could 2023/24 be the year they truly deliver?
Coming out of Covid the past 2 season have been full of success for Red Velvet. The title win two years ago was followed by Cup success last time with Ian Jenkins side living up to the potential many of us had known about for a while now.
The Divisions’ entertainers have been the top scorers for the past two campaigns and they will need to maintain this attacking threat if they are going to challenge for honours again in a season that looks set to be more competitive than we have seen before.
We saw a young Stansfeld O&B side put in a solid season last year, with the Club rightly using this avenue as the perfect pathway to a high level of Mens First Team football. It has reaped rewards for Stansfeld, with their SCEFL side moving up a Division recently and putting in history-creating performances in the FA Competitions. They now have two other teams at levels just below this and a Development side that shows that the future is looking good for Stansfeld OBC.
A solid mid-table finish for Tenterden Town was a good start to life in the Premier Division following promotion in 2021/22.
An unbeaten campaign away from home earned Tenterden that elevation and they will need to revisit that ‘on the road’ form if they are going to take a further step forward as a club.
The new signing and player retention announcements coming out soon could be interesting.
Welling Park have decided not to bother with just settling in to this new Division, following their promotion from Division One West last year. ‘Park’ have made several eye-catching summer signings of top quality and experienced players and if the all gel well, and quickly, added to the already-strong squad this side could well be in the running for honours this year.
Jake Britnell, Kozzie and Mad B have already found the net in pre-season, while Ryan Coltress and Nathan Ross have also been brought in to add real strength in depth.
Don’t sleep on Welling Park during the 2023/24 season is the message.
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