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West Kent Sunday League Report – Thursday 29th December - mid season reflections and predictions

Well we arrive at the halfway point of the season in the unusual position, for recent years anyway, of most teams actually having played half their matches! An unusually dry November and December has resulted in just a handful of cancellations. Compare that with last year, when we lost around half the planned fixtures in November and December wasn't much better. There was much worse to come though last season and let's hope it won't be repeated! In January 2016 only three matches out of about 75 were played over the first three weeks of the month. Fingers crossed.

The season began with forty-two teams accepted at the AGM, spread across four Divisions, the lowest number in membership since the very first seasons.  This graph shows the inexorable decline since this website started in 2002. Numbers have fallen by almost 50% since then. The figure shown for this season is the current total of 38 as we have lost four teams since the AGM.


Both teams based in Hadlow dropped out, first the Hornets in October to be followed by United in November. That leaves Hadlow without an adult football team on either Saturdays or Sundays for the first time in quite likely 100 years. (Can anyone help on that one?). The Bell, based at Golden Green, resigned before the season started despite being successful in the previous campaign, finishing third in Division Four. The Boars followed suit in September. Their previous season had been a troubled one, with six of their league matches and a cup tie being forfeited. All cited a lack of players willing to turn out every week. We all know that there is a lot more for people to do of a weekend other then get wet and muddy playing football. For many, that includes work. But how selfish are some people? What's the point in saying you are going to play when you mostly cannot or will not?

Goudhurst United also had a player shortage but, to their credit, decided to retain their first team in Division One and dispense with the reserves.

I had a think about the villages around the area that I remember going to not that long ago that now have no football team - Frant, Lamberhurst, Chiddingstone, Charcott, Hadlow of course and East Peckham. It won't be long before the local councils sell the land for housing, if they can!

Looking on the bright side, the tops of the table in three of the four Divisions are very close at this halfway stage. No-one is running away except for TW Foresters Reserves in Division Four. The second half of the season should be very competitive and interesting - weather permitting!

WKSFL Senior Cup and County Cups

Simla are no doubt form favourites for the WKSFL Senior Cup. They have a delayed quarter final match with Blackham & Ashurst towards the end of January. The winners will meet Armada in the semi-final after that teams epic win on penalties against Artois United in the quarters. Simla have of course won the Senior Cup in four of the past five seasons, Armada's only Final appearance has been in the Intermediate Cup back in 2011 when they lost to Crowborough Town.

Rusthall Rangers problems meant that their quarter-final match with Tonbridge Origin has been held over until a date to be arranged. Tonbridge Origin will be the only WKSFL team in the later stages of the Kent Sunday Cups. Theirs is a big ask, the draw having presented them with the shortest of straws with a trip to Quested in the Sunday Premier Cup. Quested are current holders, a powerful side and currently top of the Medway Sunday League with a league record of   Pl   11  W  11 D   0   L  0    F 69    A 3  GD  66    pts 33. That game is scheduled for 15th January. Good luck lads! Dormansland Rockets await the winners of the Rangers v Origin game.

Rockets have had a good run in the Surrey Lower Sunday Cup and will hope continue that in January with a successful trip across the county to Epsom & Ewell Old Boys..

WKSFL Intermediate Cup

A new name could be on this Cup. Neither Gardener's Arms nor the actual Rusthall Club Athletic have ever reached an Intermediate Cup Final, although in a previous incarnation Rusthall Working Men's Club won this one in 1997.

The Intermediate Cup has reached the semi-final stage. Among the four will be the top two from Division Two and they have avoided each other in the draw. Gardener's Arms will be meeting Division Three side Rusthall Club Athletic. The Club have been on an amazing run of form, but with match not yet scheduled can they keep it up until perhaps some time in February or even March? In the other tie, Pembury Sunday will host Green Lane. When they met in the League at Woodside, Pembury were easy 4-0 winners but Green Lane are no pushover. Nevertheless, form should hold the day and I predict a Gardener's Arms v Pembury Sunday final. Green Lane are past winners, in 2010, and were last year's beaten finalists so will want to do well. Pembury Sunday, although they have twice won the Senior Cup, have never featured in an Intermediate Cup final.

WKSFL Junior Cup

The Junior Cup has also reached the semi-final stage. As with the Intermediate, the top two teams avoid each other. Crowborough Town, second in Division Three, will face FC Grinstead who are having a mediocre season in Division Four. Form says Town should prevail. The other tie is much harder to call. Bricklayer's Arms, top of Division Three, will play Rusthall Club Athletic who will be a team to reckon with IF they can keep up their form. Getting to two cup semi finals and being behind in league matches may take its toll. I will go for Bricks v Town in a Crowborough derby. At least there won't be a long journey!

Both Bricklayer's Arms and FC Grinstead have featured recently in the Junior Cup final. They played each other in 2015, Bricks coming out narrow 21- winners on that occasion.

No team called Rusthall anything has reached the Junior Cup Final. Crowborough Town's old Boys XI did so in 2014, beating local rivals Crowborough Social to claim the trophy. Is this an omen??

Division One

The current table

West Kent Sunday League Division One including Sunday 18th December
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Artois United 11 8 1 2 45 17 28 25
2 Tonbridge Origin 11 8 1 2 42 19 23 25
3 Simla # 10 9 0 1 43 11 32 24
4 Insulators 11 7 1 3 36 17 19 22
5 TW Foresters 12 5 1 6 37 40 -3 16
6 Armada 8 2 2 4 12 18 -6 8
7 Dormansland Rockets 8 2 1 5 31 28 3 7
8 Blackham & Ashurst 9 2 1 6 17 41 -24 7
9 Goudhurst United + 10 1 0 9 15 59 -44 6
10 Rusthall Rangers 6 0 0 6 2 30 -28 0
# three points deducted  + three points awarded

The top four are clearly ahead by a distance but with only three points between them. Insulators started the season with a run of seven matches with one defeat, but since then have lost to all three teams above them in the League. Simla had three points deducted as a result of using an ineligible player in the very first match of the season, but since then have been unbeaten except for a big defeat by Artois United.  Tonbridge Origin are having a solid season, having lost only to Simla and Artois United. As for Artois United, their otherwise excellent season might be spoiled by their nemesis Armada, who took four points off them in league matches and beat them in the Senior Cup on penalties.

My predictionometer actually thinks that Origin will win the League! Simla are forecast to be second, Artois third and Insulators fourth. Not a bet I would take on!

The bottom half of the table is slightly skewed with Rusthall Rangers having to contend with problems off the field that has resulted in some games being called off. Blackham & Ashurst were granted a couple of free weeks before Christmas as they grappled with an extensive injury list. Let's hope that both are back on track come January 8th.

Division Two

The current table

West Kent Sunday League Division Two including Sunday 18th December
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Pembury Sunday 9 8 1 0 31 6 25 25
2 Gardener's Arms 8 7 1 0 33 8 25 22
3 Paddock Wood 11 6 1 4 27 28 -1 19
4 Green Lane 8 3 2 3 18 18 0 11
5 Cassidy's Phoenix 10 3 2 5 17 27 -10 11
6 Hawkenbury Sunday 9 2 2 5 18 22 -4 8
7 Brenchley 10 2 2 6 20 35 -15 8
8 SE Spitfires 8 2 1 5 13 26 -13 7
9 Langton Green 9 1 2 6 24 31 -7 5

It is a two- horse race here for the title, with two unbeaten teams at the top. Key fact here is that Pembury and Gardener's Arms have yet to meet in the League. Both are prolific scorers, with Gardener's having a slight edge in that department. Pembury have the better defence, having kept six clean sheets in their nine league games. But, when we count Gardener's last ten games in WKSFL league or Cup, they have conceded only three in that time. These two meet on 8th January. 0-0 draw anyone? My prediction is for a narrow win for Gardener's.

Teams like Paddock Wood and Green Lane are likely to have a say in the final outcome. Both are having up and down seasons but are quite capable of causing an upset.

The predictor says that the top two will be as you are, Pembury winning by two points with Green Lane a distant third.

Division Three

The current table

West Kent Sunday League Division Three including Sunday 18th December
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 Bricklayers Arms 11 9 0 2 44 15 29 27
2 Crowborough Town 12 8 1 3 43 22 21 25
3 Tonbridge Invicta 11 6 1 4 35 19 16 19
4 Green St Blues 9 5 1 3 24 16 8 16
5 Paddock Wood Reserves 11 4 1 6 17 29 -12 13
6 St John's Yard 12 4 1 7 24 52 -28 13
7 Ticehurst Village 11 3 2 6 25 33 -8 11
8 Rusthall Club Athletic 6 3 1 2 21 15 6 10
9 Speldhurst Rangers 11 0 2 9 17 49 -32 2

Again, it looks like a two horse race between the two Crowborough based sides, but Tonbridge Invicta will be waiting for a slip by either of the top two. Green Street Blues, with games in hand, are not completely out of the mix especially as only one of their remaining matches is against teams above them. That game will come around quickly. They are due to travel to Crowborough Town on 8th January. My feeling is that Rusthall Club Athletic will be the team to cause problems for the top two. They have marched into the semi-finals of both the Intermediate and Junior Cups, scoring freely. They cannot keep a clean sheet but, as the cliché has it, the team that scores the most goals wins the game. The Club still have to play Bricklayer's Arms twice and Crowborough Town once.

The prediction here is that Bricklayer's Arms will win by six points, Crowborough Town will be second and that Rusthall Club will zoom all the way up to third.

Division Four

The current table

West Kent Sunday League Division Four including Sunday 18th December
Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 TW Foresters Reserves 10 9 0 1 51 19 32 27
2 FC Hayward 10 6 2 2 34 16 18 20
3 Insulators Reserves 11 5 3 3 33 30 3 18
4 AFC Six in One 11 4 2 5 54 39 15 14
5 FC Grinstead 8 3 3 2 28 25 3 12
6 Tonbridge Origin Reserves 9 3 3 3 28 30 -2 12
7 TW Youth (Ridgewaye) 11 3 1 7 33 59 -26 10
8 Tonbridge Casuals 12 1 5 6 21 41 -20 8
9 Tonbridge United 8 1 1 6 6 29 -23 4

Stand out feature in this Division for me anyway, is the 93 goals scored in AFC Six One's eleven league games, and that's only one more than TW Ridgewaye's games have involved. Almost 8.5 goals per game! No surprise then that the league's leading goalscorer at this stage is Ryan Smith of AFC Six in One, with 35 scored in League and Cup. His team-mate Ben Boodle has 22 and is second in the overall list. Other teams seem to share out the goals, for example Insulators Reserves who have seventeen different scorers this season including Mr OG.

TW Foresters' only League defeat this season was 6-5 against AFC Six in One. After a run of four clean sheets they are letting them in, but are obviously the team in form. FC Hayward will badly want to win against AFC Six in One when the season resumes. They have to meet Foresters in the later stages.

Insulators Reserves lost to both the top two in December and will probably have to settle for third or fourth.

The predictor says that Forester's will be winner by eight points over Hayward, AFC Six in One will be third a couple of points behind with Insulators close by in fourth.

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