The Kent Invicta League has proven a lot of doubters wrong and is thriving, says Seven Acre & Sidcup boss Lee Hill
SEVEN ACRE & SIDCUP manager/secretary Lee Hill says the merger between the Southern Counties East Football League and the Kent Invicta League is a great idea.
The Kent Invicta League is currently in its fifth and final season and with two promotion places up for grabs into the Southern Counties East Football League it has given the league a new lease of life.
The Acre suffered a 5-1 home defeat to league leaders Glebe last night and are in fifth-place in the table on 44 points from 26 games.
Glebe currently lead the way on 54 points from 22 games, followed by Sheppey United (54 from 24), Bearsted (52 from 23) and Sutton Athletic (49 from 22).
The top three sides have applied for promotion and have floodlights at their grounds, while Hextable-based Sutton Athletic will install lights ahead of the deadline at the end of March.
Rusthall, meanwhile, who are in the bottom three, switch on their new floodlights on Friday night (20:00), a friendly match at Jockey Farm between a John Ronaldson XI and a Robbie Forbes XI.
But the future looks bleak for clubs like Crockenhill, Orpington and Eltham Palace, who are all expected to re-join the Kent County League next season.
Eltham Palace currently hire Glebe’s Foxbury Avenue ground in Chislehurst, but can no longer afford to pay the rent and are expected to be replaced by Stansfeld Oxford & Bermondsey Club, presently in fourth-place in the Kent County League Premier.
Denise Richmond, Chair of both League’s said: “It is great progress for the region and will support football development across the South East.
“Enormous investment has been made over the past five years but the Invicta League clubs, from both The Football Foundation and clubs own pockets, to get to this stage.
“As this season ends 16 out of the current 20 member clubs will have a minimum of Grade G, with 10 member clubs already there, this is much better than the national average for Step 6 at 43%.
“By this decision The FA continue to support Kent Invicta League club’s progress, having already agreed for two members clubs to be promoted to Step five next season.”
Tony Day, the secretary of the Southern Counties East Football League, said: “This is great news for football in our region. It means clubs’ movement through the National League System will be more refined and will definitely give Step Six clubs a boost.”
John Moules, the Kent Invicta League secretary, added: “Kent football has taken another giant step forward with the FA National Leagues Committee confirming approval of the merger.
“This will enhance football across the county and take Kent football to another level in the game.”
The new League will remain as the Southern Counties East Football League and will continue to facilitate football at Steps five and six and support the Kent County League to provide a path for clubs to progress through the National League system.
“I think it’s a great thing for Kent, a great thing for the Kent Invicta, which has been going for five years now,” said Seven Acre & Sidcup boss Hill.
“The League has proven a lot of doubters wrong. The League is thriving. Most of the teams have reached the ground grading, floodlights and everything else. There has been a big effort in the Kent Invicta and with the committee as well.
“It’s only good for Kent, especially with promotion and relegation. They’re talking about one coming down this year from the Southern Counties East Football League and two going up and it will be two-up-two-down the year after and potentially there could be play-offs as well, which makes it interesting for the teams especially if you’re outside the top two, which we are.
“I think it’s a better all-round structure. It doesn’t go stale and keeps everything fresh right until the end of the season. I think it’s a great idea.”
Seven Acre & Sidcup hire the facilities at Sporting Club Thamesmead, the ground where Ryman League Division One North club Thamesmead Town play.
A crowd of 90 watched the visit of Glebe last night, which pleased Hill.
“We left Sidcup two years’ ago, we had decent crowds down there. Most of the boys live on Thamesmead or surrounding areas. I’m from here myself and we do seem to have a good crowd when we play at home.
“It’s a nice ground, nice surface, nice place to play and we do attract a good following of fans.”
Hill admitted he is two players short of breaking into the promotion places next season.
“I don’t think we’ll do it this season, not by a long way,” admitted Hill.
“We just have to be more consistent. We’ve got the players, we’ve beaten the top teams but we’ve just got to be more consistent.
“Perhaps a couple of stronger players being added to the squad as well, but every team could say the same I’m saying now.
“I thought this year we’d be a top-eight team, that’s proved right. We’re just not there at the moment and we need to re-group and come out in the summer and hopefully get a couple of players to add to the squad.
“I’m quite happy with the squad that we’ve got. I’ve got 18-19 players and they put a shift in for me. I can’t fault their commitments to me and to the club. I thought we just need a little bit of quality.”
Visit Seven Acre & Sidcup’s website: www.pitchero.com/clubs/sevenacresidcup
Visit the Kent Invicta League website: www.kentinvictaleague.com