Oaks start out as favourites
The experts have spoken and it's official. Oakwood EDRS have been installed as title favourites, much to the surprise of North West Neasden B, South Manx A, North London Raiders A and Chigwell Athletic B.
Starting life as Oakwood EDRS C in 2006, not much seemed on for the Oaks, especially when they lost five of their first six games in Division Two. Yet, an astonishing run that has seen them lose only two league games in over a year and a half has seen the Oaks go from strength to strength. Now re-branded as Oakwood EDRS following the disbanding of the successful A team, the Oaks face their toughest challenge yet.
Joint-manager Ric Blank said: "This season promises to be a long one as the Oaks look to try and find their level."
Together with Jonny Beilin, Blank has dipped into the transfer market and come out with Adam Levine. Ex-South Manchester and European Maccabiah star Levine will compete in an already talented midfield involving the Geey brothers and Dan Abrams.
Youngster Dan Ash will also be debuting this season, offering pace and no little self-confidence down the right- hand side. And, of course, Jamie Beale will be back in the fold delighting referees and opponents alike as the season goes on.
Star striker Antony Kintish is keen to prove that he can score goals in a higher division while veteran Rob Bloch will continue to lead the line in typical fashion. At the back there's not much change as the solid Bloch and Berke partnership seek to keep opposition strikers at bay with dancing Eddie Manson offering class in abundance down the left-hand side.
North West Neasden B flirted with promotion last season. With Mark Cowan standing down to regain his place in the team, Sammy Carr has been joined by Ryan Glynne in a dual management team.
Carr said: "Ryan's motivational skills and hunger to win can only be a huge benefit. I'm sure his character alone will push the team forward.
Glynne said: "We were unlucky last year but have improved in a few key areas and now have the squad to compete in all four competitions. We want to be the first Jewish team to win the London Junior Cup."
Additions to the squad include Lions pair Marcus Grossman and Alex Bowman, along with Danny Cohen, Nicky Bord, Jason Lindsay. Mark Simons has been promoted from the C team. Midfielder Ben Wulwik has completed his travels while veterans Marc Lee and Jon Kay will play when needed.
Carr said: "After last season's final day drama, we aim to correct our mistakes by securing promotion well before the end of the season.
"After witnessing the success of our A team, all the boys want to have something to celebrate of their own. We want to do it with five games to go. Anything but the title will be failure."
Chigwell Athletic B have not enjoyed the best pre-season. When asked if the team was ready for the campaign, chairman Richard Slater replied: "Probably not, but you know my teams come out fighting."
Under the leadership of Richard Bronzite and Danny Rosenthal, the Chigs have the ability to mount a sustained promotion challenge. But they will have to do it without Daniel Gordon, Jon Pittal and Josh Barnett, three players who were so influential in them reaching the JC League Cup final last season.
With their C team folding, the likes of Glenn Davis, Russell Yershon, Doron Weinstein, Paul Hizer and Slater have boosted the squad. Slater said: "We have a very tough start against South Mancs and Neasden. We have to be ready if we want to challenge for promotion."
North London Raiders A are confident of make an instant return to the Premier Division. Manager Adam Fegan and his assistant Jerry Blain have compiled a youthful squad. Adam Jocelyn, Anthony Shaw, Nick Wiseman and the Leader brothers are among players who have represented teams at Maccabiah level in the past.
"We have gone from a squad of 13 to 25," said Fegan. "It will be a very different, very new and very young looking Raiders squad. We started the building process as soon as last season finished, and the size of the squad is a testimony to the work that everyone has put in.
"There are lots of good teams in our division so we shall see how it pans out. But we are an ambitious club and hope to emulate the success of our B team over the last few years."
Former referee Jon Nitka has taken over from Mickey Collins as manager South Manx A. The team is keeping its cards close to its chest though defender Danny Franklin has moved to East London Knights.
Written off by many last season, Brady Maccabi made their critics eat their words with a strong showing. Jonathan Meltzer has taken over from Lynton Stock and he believes that this "will be the toughest first division for three years".
Meltzer is looking to build on last term's mid-table finish. He has lost a few players but the backbone of the team remains intact.
Following a mixed bag in pre-season they believe they have found the right balance.
Meltzer pinpoints captain Rob Klienmann, Steve Weston, Andrew Shuster, Joel Lassman and Jason Sears as the players with whom hopes rest.
Division One would not be the same without Camden Park. Player-manager Justin Rockberger hopes his team can hit the ground running. Rockberger must keep star striker Darren Saffer wrapped up in cotton wool as an injury-free season would be the difference between mid-table obscurity and a relegation dog-fight.
Rob Shuman has taken sole charge at Faithfold B but will do well to make them promotion contenders following the promotion of Yoni Raeburn and Bradley Cohen to the As.
Hendon United B will be led by Martin Smulovitc. With four teams in the league this season they should have enough with a mid-table finish a likely outcome.
Newly promoted Brixton Old Boys will do well to survive. The departure of Steve Faye is a blow they will do well to recover from.