We asked supporters of our Bostik League clubs to preview the new season, reflect on the old and predict the final outcome. Their predicted 1-20 (or 22) will be worked into a final table which you will see just before the big kick off.
Mike is a devotee of Romford FC, and is still feeling the joy of last season’s last gasp renaissance!
1. What was your favourite moment of last season?
Mike Woods, of Romford FC
At just before five o'clock on Saturday 28th April, referee Graeme Ions blew the final whistle at the end of our home game against Maldon & Tiptree; Boro had won 4-2 while our relegation rivals Norwich United had been beaten 6-3 at Cheshunt and we had achieved what seemed impossible just seven days previously and escaped the drop to the Essex Senior League by the skin of our teeth. I've seen Boro win cups and be crowned league champions, but the relief that I and my fellow supporters felt having avoided the drop was probably the strongest emotion I've felt in half a century of watching football and it's one I've replayed in my mind over and over in the weeks since.
2. And your worst moment?
That came exactly seven days before my favourite moment! With Romford having lost at Witham in midweek while Norwich United were tearing up the form book by winning at Canvey Island, we went to Brentwood Town, who themselves were not mathematically safe from relegation. We lost 2-1 while Norwich United beat AFC Sudbury 3-1 to open a five-point gap with two games to go. It looked bleak; the chances of us winning both our remaining games and Norwich losing both of theirs appeared too slim to consider, yet that is what happened, but the final whistle at Brentwood was just about the lowest point of the season.
3. How will you do this season?
Considering the calibre of teams in the division this season - Bostik North genuinely seems to get stronger every year - we are really going to have to repeat our form from April 2018 (four wins and a draw out of seven games) through the season. Whether we can do that depends on what sort of a team that manager Paul Martin can assemble, and how many of last season's squad are tempted away to pastures new. It would be brilliant if we could emulate Heybridge Swifts, who avoided relegation only on the last day of the 2016-17 season but then reached the play-offs in 2018 and enjoyed a cracking run in the FA Cup, reaching the First Round Proper. Frankly, after last season's drama, a nice boring mid-table spot would do me nicely!
4. Which matches are you most looking forward to going to- and why?
It's always nice to visit new grounds, and the only game I missed last season was at then newly promoted Mildenhall Town, so I'm looking forward to that one, and to going to new boys Coggeshall Town and Felixstowe & Walton United.
5. What is your favourite away ground?
I've always enjoyed our visits to Bury Town and to AFC Sudbury, great grounds where we've enjoyed warm welcomes, but Aveley's new ground, Parkside, really take some beating. We played there twice last season, against both Aveley and Grays Athletic, and the facilities there are second to none in our division. It would be wonderful if, when we finally move back to Romford, our new ground is somewhere near as good.
6. Who do you consider your biggest rivals- and why?
Since AFC Hornchurch earned promotion at the end of last season, I suppose Aveley have become our biggest rivals, if only for geographical reasons. We groundshared at their old Mill Field ground for a number of years, and the two clubs know each other well, but these days we don't seem to have the same sort of intense competition with anyone that could compare with the old club's rivalry with Chelmsford City.
7. What advice would you give to any away supporter visiting you for the first time?
The most crucial piece of advice has to be, don't go to Ship Lane! After five seasons sharing there as tenants of Thurrock FC, we are on the move again after their owner Tommy South decided to sell up, but was unable to find a buyer and the club sadly went out of business. So it's off to pastures new, and a groundshare at Vanarama National League South club East Thurrock United's Rookery Hill ground.
8. Who is your favourite player of all time (for your club)- and why?
Of the club's present era there is one player whose performances and attitude mark him out as an outstanding example of the sort of player that Romford fans love, and that is current skipper Danny Cossington. Last season he was a model of consistency and the level of his performances was remarkable in a side that struggled for long periods of the campaign. His never-say-die attitude rubbed off on the other players and his leadership in the final weeks of the season as Boro successfully fought off the threat of relegation cemented his place as a firm favourite on the terraces.
9. Who will be in the top five at the end of the season?
Canvey Island, Heybridge Swifts, Dereham Town, Maldon & Tiptree, Bowers & Pitsea