The area’s senior football teams – AFC Uckfield Town and Crowborough Athletic – get their seasons underway this Saturday (30 July).
Uckfield begin their campaign in the Southern Combination League Premier Division with a home clash against AFC Varndeanians. This will be the first game in charge for Jonny Elwood, who was appointed first team manager in the summer. It is the first role in senior management for Elwood, who is a UEFA A-licensed coach and has a range of experience, including being Academy manager at Tonbridge and as a coach at Crowborough and Whitehawk.
The club has retained a number of exciting young players who produced some excellent performances last season. They have also made some astute signings, including experienced goalkeeper James Broadbent, who will be first-team captain.
Uckfield will be looking to improve on last season’s 14th place and also enjoy some good runs in the various cup competitions, including the FA Cup, where Uckfield have been drawn at home to Midhurst and Easebourne in the Extra Preliminary Round on 6 August. A victory will give them another home tie against Harefield or Lordswood on 20 August. In the other main national competition, the FA Vase, Uckfield will host long-standing rivals Peacehaven and Telscombe in the First Qualifying Round on 27 August.
Crowborough have been reinstated into the Southern Combination League following a break of several years in the Southern Counties East Counties League, where they finished in a comfortable mid-table position last season; they also reached the League Cup final.
Crowborough face a stern test for their opening league fixture which takes them to Saltdean, who finished runners-up to the all-conquering Littlehampton last season. In the FA Cup, Crowborough have a home tie against Crawley Down Gatwick, with a reward of another home match for the winners against Bearsted or Spelthorne Sports. Meanwhile, Crowborough will visit Lordswood in the opening round of the FA Vase.
Looking further ahead, local football fans will be eagerly anticipating the coming season’s derby matches between Uckfield and Crowborough. Big crowds are expected for both games at Crowborough on Boxing Day and at Uckfield on Easter Monday.
Crowborough’s neighbours Jarvis Brook will be hoping to go one better after finishing in second place last term in Division Two of the Southern Combination League.
Turning to our local teams in the Mid Sussex League, Ridgewood, Buxted and Rotherfield begin their campaigns next month, with the remainder of the leagues starting in September. The latter includes Uckfield United, who clinched their title last season on goal difference in the final round of matches. This season, United will be playing their home games at the prestigious University of Brighton Falmer complex.
For the latest scores from the matches involving AFC Uckfield Town and Crowborough Athletic, please tune in to Sport on Saturday on Ashdown Radio with David Eggleston and Martin Jones each Saturday from 2 pm.
Good luck to all our local teams for the upcoming season !