MSFL Preview: Division Three
Faithfold C player-manager David Garson
Six new teams feature with Redbridge Jewish Care C, Glenthorne United A, Real Life and Team JLGB joining last season's Division Four champions UJIA and runners-up Norstar B in promotion.
Two other clubs, Faithfold C and Catford & Bromley Maccabi, were even more fortunate after member clubs voted for them to stay in the division despite finishing in the bottom two.
Led by Darren Rolfe, UJIA surprised many people last season. The challenge is now to prove that it was not a flash in the pan, and far from being one to rest on his laurels, Rolfe wants "another promotion".
There have been minor changes to the squad with two joining from Brixton plus one from North West Neasden. Rolfe said: "Matt Radstone, the Division Four Player of the Season, is hungry for more silverware." Still on the lookout for a keeper and strikers, he pinpoints Oli Henry and Matt Radstone as the ones to watch.
Norstar B have been rocked by an injury to player of the year Adam Seres that could keep him out until the New Year. They are close to completing the signing of Ben Hart, formerly of North London Raiders. Aryeh Goldring is rumoured to be signing from Hendon United, although it has yet to be confirmed
The league is our priority but I’d love a cup run
Glenthorne United A manager David Blitz believes that "winning the league is not out of the question". With new signings Simon Bitton, Lloyd Shavron and Bradley 'the cat' Grant between the sticks, Blitz claims that Bitton "will some more bite to the midfield". He is keen to find cover for David Blackman, the only recognised forward in the squad. Blitz said: "The division is very open."
Rob Silverman is the new manager of Team JLGB. They expect "to be able to compete with every team in the division. Anything less than mid-table will be very disappointing," said Silverman.
JLGB will have a new look to their side with the introduction of several new faces. An added boost sees the return of star striker Neil Lux following seven months on the sidelines with medial ligaments damage. New signings include Lee Bennett, who has come out of retirement, Josh Danan from Redbridge Jewish Care, as well as Rob Levene, Adam Capal and Alex Skinner entering the league for the first time. But it is the addition of Matt West from FC Marylebone that excites Silverman most. He said: "I expect him to be a maestro in midfield along with the experienced and classy Paul Black who can run a game and the deadly Joe Cullum in attack."
JLGB stalwart and defensive rock Fraser Levy will play a bit-part this season while Matt Frolich, who earned several rave reviews last year, has left the club.
"We fear no-one." That is the message from Catford & Bromley Maccabi's Adam Lewis who predicts a season of transition.
Lewis said: "Last year was, frankly, the worst in recent memory. It could have been so different as we lost several important games by the odd goal and, but for some wayward finishing, we could well have found ourselves mid-table."
Lester Jacobs has taken more of a back seat after decades of managing the Cats. Lewis said: "Lester is perhaps the biggest personality and one of the greatest servants of the MSFL, but he felt he could better influence the club from a more directorial role."
A rebuilding project has started with David Lee and Oliver Hitman returning from injury. Lewis is confident that squad strengthening will help them rediscover the good times. He said: "It was only a few seasons ago we were in the Premier Division and, while that is not a realistic aim right now, we want to build a stable squad and acquire some quality players to help take us forward."
Life at ZigZag is never dull under long-standing manager Neal Cohen. The Spurs fan has been busy during the summer, bringing in Paul Cowen, Mark Jackson, Ben Mendal and Ash Ilsen. The squad is far from complete though as Cohen seeks a keeper, defence, midfielder, striker and even a physio.
The only merger of the summer saw FC Heath join forces with Rapid Banta to form Heath Banta. Ben Nathan is predicting big things from the new-look squad. He said: "We would like to be challenging for promotion. Heath and Banta in recent seasons had found themselves fighting relegation. By combining the two squads we hope we can be title challengers again." Nathan welcomes back Josh Shindler, who has been out of the game for 18 months since becoming a father.
Benjy Peters is the talisman. Nathan said: "Benjy sparkled last year in a weak team. With stronger players around him we think he will go from strength to strength. James Stanton has vowed to score this season, and even though the past decade has been rather barren, we have high hopes the drought will end soon." Rob Lerner has resumed control of Holy Mount Zion. Lerner said: "We're looking to regain consistency of performances and the results should follow. I'd love a good run in one of the cups."
USA-bound Adrian Satmarel has left while striker Mariusz Mielnisczuk comes in. Attacking midfielder Danny Marti and Mielnisczuk are the ones to watch. Lowen remains captain. Lerner has tipped Norstar and Heath Banta for the title.
David Garson, Faithfold C's player-manager goes into the season in confident mood. "We want to win the division and with the improved squad we have should do well," he said. Opting to sit out the Peter Morrison Trophy, Garson will be assisted by Simon Beresford. Involved with the club for more than 20 years, Garson believes that it is impossible to call a favourite with only Faithfold, ZigZag and Catford left from last season.
Real Life will be managed by Jamie Beaumont. Consistency is the name of the game, according to Director of Communications Eddie Lewin. He said: "Last year, at times we were breathtaking in our football. Our movement and passing was sublime. The disappointing thing was that in too many of the big games we did not perform. So we ended with an odd set of results and a lower league position than we felt we could achieve.
"The challenge for Jamie is to ensure the squad produces a consistently high level of performance. He has an experienced squad and looks to build on the foundations of the David Tropp era."
New signings include centre back Nick Stone and midfielder Saul Weitzman. Dave Grabiner and Jamie Myers have departed.
With experience on their side, Real expect much from star striker Charlie Bernstein along with wingers Wayne Davidson, Paul Franklin and Jonny Bruck a handful for any full-back. Last year's Players' Player of the year, Kenny Markeson will give his all in the Orange shirt. Whilst brother Dan Markeson has a great pedigree as a former Division Two Player of the Year.
Redbridge Jewish Care C will be managed by Richard Bronzite .