Well pre-season is now over. Training sessions in stifling heat, eight matches including against some new clubs, and with a considerable number of miles travelled. Results were good but it’s not truly about results at this time of year. In 2012, having won the CCL championship and before we embarked upon our first Step 4 season City had a terrible set of pre-season results. The then manager Kevin Rayner said all along that we would be alright when the league started. Many doubted him but City won their first Southern League match 1-0 at Aylesbury, and went on to win their next five games as well including a memorable 2-1 victory at Slough Town. City won the division’s team of the month for August, and were top of the league at the end of September. So pre-season results mean little. It’s about performance and manager Chris Balchin will undoubtedly be satisfied with the commitment to the playing style and the evident tightness of the squad. The core of last season’s squad is back showing important continuity but some talented new signings have also been made. Several players have benefited from a full pre-season and have come back fighting fit and raring to go.
This CCL season looks to be the most open for a number of years. So many clubs look really competitive that the challenge at the top end of the table could involve as many as a dozen teams. Sutton Common will be out to go one better than last year, whilst Abbey Rangers look a real threat. Knaphill, under new manager Luke Tuffs, have strengthened well and will surely be challenging at the top end. Southall are very well organised and Ascot United have come across from the Hellenic League where they have a strong record and will surely make their mark. Then Redhill and Banstead Athletic are always strong sides and there is no reason to think differently this year. Raynes Park finished last season like an express train and they appear confident they can maintain their momentum. Relegated clubs have sometimes taken time to settle but both Egham Town and Molesey still look to have something about them. Similarly with the promoted clubs the winning momentum from last season can run on into the new campaign. Could Sheerwater or Frimley Green make a second consecutive promotion push. There could always be a dark horse. Who might spring out of the pack to make that challenge?
City open their season against newly promoted Sheerwater on Saturday. The match is being played at Woking’s Kingfield stadium, kick-off 3pm. There is always excitement and an air of expectation about the first game. Please come down and support City. So often our travelling support has made a difference in a tight game. It’s also not often that you get to see City play in a National League stadium.
Season tickets are still available under the end of August. This includes our ten match ticket which is ideal for those who have Saturday work commitments or follow another side as well.