Ascot United Vets enter new league territory
The 2021-22 campaign was a really successful one for Ascot United Vets’ 1st XI. They were joint-winners of Division One and they had an excellent cup run, beating three premier league sides along the way.
2022-23 sees the Yellamen in the Premier Division. It’ll certainly be a tougher nut to crack but Dave Good and his side are quietly confident that they’ll do well on their new terrain. 10 sides, no easy games and a competition that looks wide open. All good.
Bigger and better
Over the summer the Vets’ squad has increased in both size and quality. With around 50 members of the group, both the ones and twos are subsequently in decent starting positions. In terms of the 1st XI, the arrival of John Nutter, for example,adds 200+ football league games to the group whilst Stuart Tanfield comes with National League experience on the CV. Fingers crossed that their respective bodies can hold out.
Adam Moroney has moved across from MMB and he’s impressed in pre-season. A front line involving him and Ben Standing, with Rob Saunders pulling the strings behind them looks good. Sam McIntrye and Andy Lunn will also be waiting in the wings to offer goal threats as and when their chances come.
In the middle of the park gaffer Dave Good looks like he’s got a plethora of options. Loz Munns, another acquisition from MMC, Tim Standing, Andy Gleave and Mike Tomlinson all look well set to play deeper roles whilst Toby Underwood and Dave Simpson will also offer plenty going forward.
Defensively, there are also plenty of folks in the frame. A fit Dave Woozley will be the defensive anchor, with two of Jon Keough, Matt Newall, Neil Corbett, Nige Gatehouse and newly arrived Chris Ferdinand likely to play around him. Options galore for the gaffer there.
As ever, the big question will centre on availability. Vets get old and vets get injured and that 50 man squad might well get full usage as the season draws on. Plus, fingers crossed that players can successfully negotiate the challenge of domestic politics in being able to play when fixtures come around.
WLR gunning for Chelsea Vets’ crown
In terms of their opposition, West London Rams will be an obvious side to watch. The Yellamen won one and lost one of their league games against them in 2021-22 and the two teams were also involved in a pulsating cup tie that WLR edged 4-3. Indeed, WLR went on to lift the trophy thanks to an extra-time victory over Chelsea Veterans. Make no mistake about, WLR will be hoping to do a Nottingham Forest under Brian Clough and win the title in their first season in the top flight.
A number of other sides will no doubt have a say in whether that happens or not. Chelsea Vets are undoubtedly prime contenders. They won 13 of their 16 league games in 2021-22 and that was enough to see them win the league by six points.
Sporting Kitz came second, and they, too, have more than enough in the locker to make a real run for the top spot in 2022-23. Whether they do or not may come down to how well they travel; they were undefeated at home (won seven and drew one) yet they lost three games away (at Chelsea Vets, Civil Service and Croxley).
Polytechnic, Bank of England (BoE) and Croxley were fighting it out for the Champions League spots, and Ascot United will be able to have a good look at them early doors; the Yellamen’s first game sees them welcome BoE to the Racecourse and Croxley follow them two weeks later. That’s then followed by the first of the really big contests; a trip to Chelsea Vets on 15 October.
As ever, good seasons are built on good starts and Ascot will be hoping that they can hit the ground in those first two games. With pre-season going well they’ve reason enough to be quietly confident.