We asked supporters of our 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.
We’re in the Pitching In Isthmian North, and we’re all a buzz. It’s time for Tommy Whale to lift the lid on Basildon United.
1. How do you feel about the return of football?
I feel really excited for the return of football! It feels like forever since I watched the mighty bees play, since that pre match bag of chips, and walk to the ground! I really can’t wait for the return, however part of me is a little bit nervous for the return as it will be different so it will be strange in some ways, I’m sure.
2. The world has changed enormously since you were last able to watch a live football match. Will the pandemic change your approach to watching the game- will you attend as many matches as you used to, and spend as much time at the ground/in the clubhouse, etc?
The pandemic will change the way I watch the game slightly yes, of course having to socially distance from the other supporters in the ground- which will be a shame but of course it has to be done. I will most likely spend the same amount of time in the ground pre match and post match as me and my sister usually go to the ground early, and help out before and after the game cleaning the changing rooms, making sure the pitch is kept tidy as well as the stands. Also I do interviews with players and the manager post match. Therefore I will most likely spend the same amount of time in the ground and club house. In regards to attending as many matches, yes I will hopefully attend the same amount of matches as I do normally.
3. Last season had many exciting moments before its premature end. What was your favourite moment?
My favourite moment of last season would probably have been when we hadn’t won a game in a long time, 2 months I believe, and we were 16th in the league and snatched a 1-0 win over high-flying Tilbury away from home! Ernest Okah scored the goal and the fans went absolutely mental! I think that’s the loudest celebration I’ve heard in my time as a Basildon supporter! It was a fantastic day out!
4. And what was your worst moment?
Worst moment would have to had been when we were playing Dereham Town on a cold, wet Tuesday night at home and we got beat 3-0. It was not a pleasant night by any means!
5. How will you do this season?
Our last two seasons in the Isthmian League have not been too good, therefore others may disagree with me. But I have a feeling this season will be good! We’ve retained some good players and made some really good signings so far. Our manager Alex Salmon showed last season that he was a good manager! Sure we didn’t win every game, but I saw a massive change in the efforts of the squad and the performances when he took over! So I think if things continue the way they were going when he took over then I think this could turn out to be a good season maybe a mid-table finish for us.
6. Which matches are you most looking forward to going to- and why?
I think the game I am most looking forward to is against Tilbury! That always turns out to be a good fixture in terms of the atmosphere quite a good derby! I’d probably say that it’s our biggest derby without Bowers and Pitsea in the league. I’m also looking forward to playing Canvey Island especially away. I always love going to Park Lane the Canvey fans always produce a good atmosphere and I love their ground too! I’d go as far as to say one of the best in the league.
7. What is your favourite away ground?
I’d have to say as I mentioned in the previous answer Canvey Island would have to be my favourite away ground. Always love the day out when travelling to Canvey. The seaside walk before the game is always enjoyable. When you get into the ground it’s a very nice ground with very nice people too.
I get along with a lot of the Canvey Island supporters so that makes going to the ground an enjoyable experience. I love the terrace they have behind one of the goals where if you stand at the top you have a fantastic view of the pitch! The Canvey fans are always creating a fantastic atmosphere too which is always great.
8. Who do you consider your biggest rivals- and why?
As mentioned before our biggest rivals would be our local neighbours Bowers and Pitsea. Always a feisty derby when we play each other- the atmosphere is always great and it’s always a great day out whenever we play them. Home or away nothing beats ”El Basico” as the fans call it.
9. What advice would you give to any away supporter visiting you for the first time?
Well I’d definitely say make sure you come in numbers if you want to compete with our atmosphere on a Saturday afternoon! A Tuesday night is different the atmosphere isn’t exactly great. But on a Saturday afternoon we are right up for it and singing throughout the whole 90- so if you want to compete with us come in numbers.
10. Who is your favourite player of all time (for your club)- and why?
My favourite all time player for the club is someone who I think all Basildon fans would agree with, and that is Marcus Bowers. Spent only a year with the club but has been given the title of a club legend because of one special moment. It was the final day of the Essex Senior League season and we needed a goal to get promoted and he took the perfect opportunity to get it! He struck it and it went to the right of the keeper winning the game 1-0 against Redbridge to promote us to the Isthmian League for the first time in 21 years. An unforgettable moment!
11. Who will be in the top five at the end of the season?
Maldon and Tiptree, Heybridge Swifts, Tilbury, Romford, Aveley
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