We asked supporters of our Pitching In Isthmian 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. David is a Gull who won’t steal your chips.
1. Thinking about last season- what there was of it- were there any highlights for you?
The outstanding moment of the season has to be the run to the FA Cup 2nd Round where we lost at home to Conference National side Boreham Wood in front of the BT Sport cameras. To get that far and then be on TV- not just to a national audience but a worldwide audience- was an experience I'll never forget. I had friends in America and Switzerland who were able to watch the game and even had a telephone call with the commentator doing the commentary for German TV who wanted information on Canvey. It was a surreal time.
Obviously, the heartbreaking fact was that we couldn't attend the games from the First Round onwards because of COVID restrictions, then lockdown. Luckily, we managed to watch the Banbury and Boreham Wood games via a Facebook group call, but it wasn't quite the same being as there to cheer the players on and then celebrate with them at the end.
At least we were able to attend the 4th Qualifying Round tie with Cray Wanderers, a 3-2 win at Park Lane played in horrendous windy weather but a terrific cup tie.
2. Moving on to your current squad- which players do you think will make a big impact during the 2021-22 campaign?
A recent signing from Coggeshall Town, Matt Price is a proven goalscorer at this level and should be in and amongst the top scorers in the league next season. Evans Kouassi is an exciting winger who became an instant crowd favourite with his dribbling skills, and Conor Hubble from midfield impressed with a number of long range strikes.
Watch out for Bobby Mason in goal, our very own Jordan Pickford who saved 5 penalties in the shootout with Biggleswade in the cup and is one of the best keepers in the division.
3. Realistically, how do you think you’ll do this season?
This season looks the most competitive in years with many teams making a number of impressive signings. Although we won only one of our five league matches before the season was curtailed, I think we would have been amongst the challengers if the season had continued. Barring a couple of departures, we've retained the majority of a squad that looked exceptional in the FA Cup last season.
It's a team full of leaders and strong characters, and with many of the players having played together at Maldon and Heybridge there's a winning mentality that should see us challenge for a play off place- or possibly more.
4. Which matches are you most looking forward to going to- and why?
I always look out for the new teams in our division and I'm especially looking forward to visiting Stowmarket Town- a ground I've yet to visit. They've had a great couple of seasons in the Eastern Counties Premier and will be a great addition to the Isthmian League. Stowmarket also looks a good town to visit.
Also looking forward to visiting Bury Town, Sudbury and Felixstowe and finally getting up to Dereham after several years of missing that fixture.
5. What is your favourite away ground?
Not been for a few years but Lewes is always a great day out. Lovely town, fantastic ground with good food and beer plus the Harvey's brewery is nearby.
I always enjoy the away trips to Sudbury and Bury. Like Lewes, they're both beautiful towns with some great pubs and both grounds are good to visit. It's also a plus both sides have excellent support for Isthmian North level.
6. Who do you consider your biggest rivals- and why?
Although they are two divisions higher it would probably have to be Island rivals Concord Rangers, although the rivalry has faded somewhat as the two teams have not played each other competitively in 8 years. Billericay Town are another rival but again the teams have not played against each other for a few years. In terms of in our division, the games with Grays are always fiesty but nowhere near as intense as the days when both sides were in the Conference.
7. What advice would you give to any away supporter visiting you for the first time?
Wrap up warm during the winter months as the wind coming off the Thames estuary is bitter. Also have a drink in our clubhouse. We have a number of good ales and foreign beers to choose from and big screen TVs for live football.
8. Who is your favourite player of all time (for your club)- and why?
It has to be Lee Boylan. Scored 50 plus goals two seasons in a row and was influential in helping us to win promotion to the Conference as well as reaching the FA Trophy final in 2003/04. Lee was one of the most prolific strikers to ever play for Canvey and could score goals from anywhere. It was a shame injuries and illness meant that he never got a proper crack at the professional game.
9. Who will be in the top five at the end of the season?
Aveley, Heybridge Swifts, Canvey Island, Barking, Maldon & Tiptree
Right, who’s next? If you’d like to represent your club, email Ian on firstname.lastname@example.org
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