And just like that, our first season in the SCEFL First Division is over. We finished a respectable eighth, in a league two higher than last year. Let’s look back at what happened.
Showing deserved loyalty to players who’d given their all last season, we started our campaign with essentially the same squad, bar a handful of new additions. We didn’t really know what to expect: who were the skilled teams, the physical teams and the ‘dangermen’? Which were the ‘nightmare’ grounds?
The boys gave 100% effort, as always, but many chances went untaken, which you can’t afford to do for long at this level. Performances were ok, and we won a few, lost a few and drew a few. Frustratingly, many of the draws and defeats came after we’d been in a winning position, invariably losing by a solitary goal (usually in the last 10 minutes). Unlike last season, teams seemed to ‘work us out’ and hit us on the counter, balls over the top, too many of our players out of position, they’d break through and score.
Mid-November until mid-February saw some awful form from us, with relegation looking a real possibility. A lot of work then went on behind the scenes. New faces arrived (including former Leafe legends Aaron ‘Azza’ Watson and Jamie McGeoghegan), a new formation was played and a different Leafe emerged: still free-flowing, attacking football, but now with positional discipline. We became the team we’d dreamt of being at the start of the season. Results and the (vast) majority of performances drastically changed, with us even making a late run for the play-offs.
What can we hope for next season? We’ve learnt that no-one gives you anything in this league…you have to go out there and take it. If we do that, and if we can hang onto the players we have (which looks promising), and add a few, I would hope we could make the play-offs, with the possibility of a title challenge.
The men’s team is not the only one at Church Road. AFC Whyteleafe Women (sponsored by Ann Summers) had an incredibly successful season (especially considering they were only put together towards the end of last summer). The newly formed men’s U23s had a solid first season, competing in a league with teams one and two tiers higher. And the AFC Whyteleafe Youth teams (over 20 in total) have again achieved some remarkable successes:
- If you have some free time, and would like to help your community club, why not join our team of friendly volunteers? It’s a great way to meet people and we have jobs to suit all. A knowledge of (or even a liking of!) football is not essential.
- We’re looking for businesses to become part of the Leafe family. We have sponsorship opportunities to suit all budgets, from main shirt sponsor to matchday advertising in our programme or on pitch-side banners. We are one of the biggest supported clubs in the country at this level and can offer great exposure to the local community and beyond.
- We’re also calling on you to nominate a child to be an AFC Whyteleafe matchday mascot. They’ll get a pre-match team photo, a fun penalty shoot-out, to walk out with the players, present the referee with the match ball and receive a small Leafe gift. It’s a great afternoon for them!
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on all of the above, and follow us on social media for all our latest news.
Have a great summer and see you next season!