Thatcham, Tadley and Aldermaston on the move as FA announce National League re-structure
Thatcham Town chairman Dave Melin is relishing the new challenges his club will face after they moved leagues due to a National League System re-structure by the Football Association.
The Kingfishers have been involved in the Southern League for a number of years now, but from the 2021-22 campaign, they will be competing in the Isthmian League South Central.
Although it will throw up new opponents, chairman Melin believes it’s a new opportunity for the club to progress up the football pyramid.
“It is interesting and it’s sad we’re moving out of the Southern League, but it creates new challenges and the general consensus from some of our fans was positive.”
Thatcham will come up against familiar sides in Binfield, Basingstoke Town and Bracknell Town, but they’ll also play teams closer to London as well a trip to play Guernsey.
“We will get to see some new grounds and we are playing further east,” he said. “We don’t have the long journeys down to Devon, but we have an interesting one when we play Guernsey so let’s hope it’s a Saturday and not a Tuesday night.
“From some messages to Jamie, he is excited by it and for once we’re talking about football rather than the proposed return of football.
“It is great from that perspective and Jamie wants to get out there and everyone is excited by it all because there are teams outside of London as well as some Berkshire derbies too.”
It has not yet been confirmed when Thatcham will begin their league campaign, but it is believed to be around August 14 – once pre-season has finished.
“We have outlined a pre-season plan and we might have to change it as some teams we were due to play are now league opponents, but I think we’re all just excited to be talking about football.”
It’s not only Thatcham who have been affected by the changes.
Tadley Calleva will move from the Wessex League to the Combined Countied Premier North Division and AFC Aldermaston will play in Division 1 of the Combined Counties league instead of the Hellenic League.
A statement on Tadley's website, from chairman Sandy Russell, said: “After 17 years in the Sydenhams Wessex League it has now been confirmed that we will be laterally moved to the Combined Counties League (North) for the 2021-22 season.
“Although we are sad and disappointed to be leaving, we are now looking forward to the challenge of facing new teams and visiting new grounds next season.
“We have made many good friends and enjoyed the kind hospitality from a number of clubs over the years and we wish them all well for their forthcoming campaign. Hopefully, the FA Cup Competitions may bring us together again some time in the near future.
“We would also like to put on record our sincere thanks to the Board Members of the Wessex League for their hard work behind the scenes and for the personal support we have received when it was requested.
“Finally, a warm welcome awaits our new league opponents and their supporters to Barlow's Park for next season. I'm sure you will all enjoy your visit to North Hampshire.”