All Fired Up For the New Season!

By Joe Perkins

Season preview as we look ahead to the new campaign.

Optimism abounds with both the La Liga and Premier seasons set to kick off next week. Reigning champions, Yardley, will be looking to emulate last season’s title success but they will initially face stiff opposition in La Liga with that division threatening to be both exciting and exhilarating with several ‘big hitters’ throwing their hats in the ring. Short Heath will be among the favourites after their Yr 4/5 title retention last term and they are always a force to be reckoned with. Paget, despite the loss of their star player, are also expected to be among the forerunners. St Bernadette’s, beaten finalists in the aforementioned Y4/5 tournament, will be stronger than last season and will pose a threat. It is expected that Abbey, who, unusually went trophy-less last time out, will improves and be hunting one of the top three play-off spots. Hillstone will be another side looking to go beyond their fifth placed finish last year and always have a competitive side. Mapledene and Harper Bell have switched from the Premier division and both are well equipped for a challenge. The ‘dene showed up well in the Y4/5 tournament whilst Harper Bell are having an excellent pre-season, having already beaten Hillstone and held Paget to a draw in recent friendlies. Gunter, returning to the ESPSFA after a four-year hiatus, will be an unknown quantity, whilst Brownmead and St Barnabas will look to improve on their lower-half finishes last season. And finally, to Firs: a disappointing campaign saw them winless last time out so they will be looking to at least stretch into mid-table and maybe hope to surprise a few.
The premier division may be a little more difficult to assess or predict. Lea Forest however are expected to be there or thereabouts after their title win last season and any side finishing above them will surely be looking at silverware. Thornton may well be one of those sides as they had a more than commendable campaign last year and have a couple of high-quality year 5s they can unleash. Like their Erdington neighbours Abbey, SS Peter and Paul had a barren 21-22 season and will be looking to put that right this term so expect a more determined black’n’white outfit this term. Timberley are another side which hovered around the top three most of last season but eventually fell away, so this time out, the red and blacks will be hoping for a higher than sixth-place finish. Only three points separated Corpus Christi in mid-table, from Rosary and Heathlands and all three will have to be more consistent than they were last year. Rosary suffered a blow as their new captain and star player has been side-lined for two weeks so will miss the Rosarians’ opening fixtures. Parkfield had a season to forget last year and know that big improvements are required if they are elevate themselves into mid-table and maybe, beyond, likewise Erdington Hall, who under new management, will seek to gain significantly more than the four points they could only muster last term. Featherstone, who performed well in La Liga in their maiden ESPSFA season, have made the switch to the Premier and will be a dark horse to be aware of. Colebourne has also made the switch from La Liga and will hope that starting their campaign at the same time as everyone else this year will stand them in good stead as they search for a top three finish. After an absence of four seasons, Highfield return to the ESPFA and the Premier division and it will be interesting to see how the Alum Rock side fare as they too have a new gaffer. And lastly, the ESPSFA is pleased to welcome back another absentee in St Thomas More’s. The Sheldon-based outfit last played in the ESPSFA over a decade ago and they will be keen to make up for lost time and if tradition has anything to do with it, they will be not only competitive but a tough nut to crack to boot.
Whatever the weather, we are set for another fantastic season with thrills and spills all over the place and most importantly, scores of children representing their schools with smiles on their faces playing the beautiful game.

Where next?

Paget and Abbey Steal Show on Opening Night! Heavy wins for heavyweights; Heath and Bernie's share spoils; Bell and Barnie's net wins.
WILFULL WILF'S NET ESPSFA CUP! Wilf's treble up on pens to seal debut cup win; Yardley's double dream ends in penalty heartbreak.

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