Non League Daily

SCFL set for final farewell this weekend ahead of restructure

The Sussex County Football League will be no more after this weekend, as it is to be renamed and reorganized from next season, becoming the Southern Combination Football League writes NLD South East writer Ian Townsend.

The new league is likely to include teams from Sussex, Surrey, Kent and Hampshire. The last ever title winners will either be Littlehampton Town or Dorking Wanderers- but we already know which of the two will be promoted.

Most neutrals would agree that Littlehampton Town have been the most entertaining team in the League this season. As we approach the final weekend they have amassed a colossal 119 goals, 83 points, and can also point to a run to the Third Round of the FA Vase; the only Sussex club to reach this stage of the competition.

Despite this success, however, they will not be promoted whatever the final standings. Instead, the team currently in second place, also on 83 points, already know that they will be lining up in the Ryman South next season.

Dorking Wanderers were formed as recently as 1999, and started life in the Crawley and District Football League. They moved to their current ground in Westhumble, in the shadow of the North Downs, in 2007, and have only been hosting floodlit matches since 2012.

They’ve held firmly to Littlehampton’s coat-tails for much of the season, even forging ahead in recent weeks before being overhauled on goal difference, and hammered relegation threatened Hailsham Town 6-0 on Saturday; a match followed by delighted celebrations.

They showed their ambition by applying for promotion before the season started, and having passed the required ground grading inspection only had to finish second to be assured of promotion because their rivals didn’t apply.

Littlehampton would very much like to play in the Ryman League. Sadly they cannot, as they wouldn’t meet the ground grading requirements. Their stadium, The Sportsfield, is bounded on one side by a cricket pitch, and it is a requirement of the Ryman League that every ground be fully enclosed. Whilst there are talks planned to see whether this can be overcome in the future, for this season fans of The Golds will have to be content with the championship trophy- assuming that they win it.

On Saturday, Littlehampton entertain Newhaven Town, whilst Wanderers travel to Littlehampton’s local rivals, Arundel. Both opponents are firmly ensconced in mid-table with only pride to play for, and all Littlehampton need to do is match Wanderers result to take the title, such is their superior goal difference.

As Newhaven and Arundel have each only won 3 of their last ten matches, victories for the top two may seem assured; however Newhaven’s form has improved markedly over the last couple of weeks and they will be no pushovers. The destination of the trophy is far from certain.

Whatever happens, the final Sussex County Football League season has been far from dull, and the newly reorganised competition will have a challenge to be as entertaining next year. The SCFL is dead; long live the SCFL!

Article: Ian Townsend

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