Away Then Home - 22 March
Once again, Henley Town travel to play a league game this weekend and follow this with a cup-tie at home in midweek.
Saturday sees the Town visit Brimscombe and Thrupp in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League, kick-off 3 p.m. The first ever meeting between the sides came early in the current season when Brimscombe won 3-1 in Gloucestershire at the opening stage of the F.A. Cup. In January, the sides met at Henley in the league, the visitors finishing 6-3 winners but only after the Red Kites had led 2-0 and 3-1. Despite a surprising defeat at Brackley last Saturday, Brimscombe stand seventh in the table.
On Tuesday, the Town entertain Purton in the third round of the Bluefin Hellenic Supplementary Cup, kick-off 7.45 p.m. The sides share the distinction of being the only two to have gone unbeaten through an entire season in any division of the Hellenic League. Henley did this in 1967-68 in the old Division One before it was regionalised, while Purton did so in Division 1 (West) in 2003-04. Purton could not proceed to the Premier Division as they did not have the required facilities, and this is still the case.
The only previous meeting between the teams was at Henley in 2008-09 in the Hellenic Challenge Cup, when the home side finished 4-1 winners. Purton currently stand fourth in Division 1 (West).
The reserves continue their run of home fixtures tomorrow when they meet Flackwell Heath Reserves in the league, kick-off 3 p.m. They are at home in the league again on Wednesday when they entertain unbeaten Chalvey, kick-off 7.45 p.m.
Table Improvement Improbable - 15 March
Henley Town will again be involved in both league and cup competitions this week. As disappointing as was the Town’s 8-3 defeat at Longlevens last weekend, their biggest setback as far as the league is concerned was Oxford City Nomads’ unexpected victory at Tuffley. With only four league games remaining, this makes it improbable that the Town will rise any higher in the table however much improvement they show, and their only realistic target must be to stay above Burnham.
On Saturday the Red Kites travel to Highworth Town in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League for a 3 p.m. kick-off. Highworth are known as the Worthians, and they have certainly provided worthy opposition for Henley down the years. They currently stand in sixth position, and, with two games in hand over Ardley, should rise at least one place higher. When the sides met in November, in the first league match under Robbie Crouch, the Red Kites took a 47th minute lead but, conceding twice in the last eight minutes, eventually went down 3-1.
The two most memorable trips by Henley to The Elms in past years both featured goalkeepers. In February 2004, after Henley had failed to avoid defeat in 11 successive competitive games, they gained a 1-1 draw at Highworth when goalie Stuart Gosby, having made numerous saves, moved to the other end of the pitch and scored from the penalty spot. Nine months later, Henley had incredibly already used eight different goalkeepers in their senior side by mid-November. David Jenkins, who had missed several games through injury, was recalled for the game at Highworth, and supporters looked forward to a period of stability. After only 11 minutes, however, Jenkins was rushed to a hospital in Swindon with a severe hand injury, outfield player Gary Stevens becoming ’keeper number nine. Henley also had Carlton Mitchell sent off after 33 minutes and lost Matthew Folley through injury. Despite all this, the result was in doubt till the last minutes of a pulsating game, which the high-flying home side were rather flattered to win 5-3.
On Monday, the Red Kites have the rare luxury of a home fixture when they entertain Wokingham and Emmbrook in the third round of the Reading Senior Cup, kick-off 7.45 p.m. These clubs are old friends, their relationship being cemented when Wokingham were ground-sharing at the Invesco Perpetual Triangle. The sides met at Henley in a pre-season friendly, when Wokingham won 2-1. In all, since Wokingham Town amalgamated with Emmbrook Sports in 2004, they have beaten the Town nine times, compared with Henley’s four wins and four draws. When the Satsumas won Division 1 (East) two years ago, they looked a very good side, but, as Henley have done this season, they were soon reminded of the difference in standards between the two divisions, and, following relegation, Wokingham are now going through another difficult season.
Henley are the holders of the Reading Senior Cup, but Wokingham have a proud history in this competition, having won it four times running from 2012.
Henley Town Reserves, who lost 9-0 at Milton Keynes Academy last Saturday, will hope for better luck this weekend when they entertain Stokenchurch in a league fixture, kick-off 3 p.m.
League Then Cup - 9 March
Henley Town have two games in the next 7 days, once more, they are both away. On Saturday, in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League, they make their first ever journey to Longlevens AFC.
The only previous meeting between the sides was in October, when the visitors won 3-1 at Henley despite the home side scoring first through Dan Davies. The Gloucestershire club now stand 12th in the table, and, averaging a point per game, look as though that is roughly where they will finish. The Town will need to scrap for a point if they are to come home with any reward.
In view of the Red Kites’ somewhat woeful league record, it may come as a surprise to find that they are still alive in two cup competitions. Not only that, but the draw has again been kind to them so that they have every chance of proceeding further in both the Bluefin Insurers Hellenic Supplementary Cup and the Reading Invitation Senior Cup.
In the second round of the former event, they travel to Wantage Town Reserves on Tuesday, kick-off 7.45 p.m. Wantage’s first team play a level above Henley’s, in the Southern League, but both their senior sides have had a difficult season. The reserves have yet to obtain a point in the Hellenic Division 1 (East) – a worse record than the Town’s at the higher level.
The Red Kites will meet up with an old friend, as on 21 January the Freds brought in Ciprian Pintilie to try and turn round the reserve team’s fortunes. “Chippy” was Henley’s reserve team manager two seasons ago. In the previous round, Henley won 3-0 away to Didcot Reserves. Assuming Wantage’s cup team resembles the one they have been fielding in the league, another victory should be well within the Red Kites’ compass.
Supporters of the reserve team should note that their fixture list for the rest of the season has been substantially revised. Last week, the reserves suffered two postponements. Both they and their visitors, Flackwell Heath Reserves, were ready to play in midweek, but the referee ruled the pitch unfit for play. Saturday’s home game against Stokenchurch was called off at breakfast time. The reserves have two league fixtures this week. Saturday they visit Milton Keynes Academy, kick-off 3 p.m., and on Tuesday they entertain Aston Clinton Development, kick-off 7.45 p.m.
Kites Await Monday - 1 March
For the second week running, Henley Town have no Saturday fixture this weekend but travel away in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League in midweek. On Monday, which is the normal day for midweek matches at Stubbs Lane, their opponents are Binfield, and the kick-off is at 7.45 p.m.
Since they first met 68 years ago, the paths of these two clubs have crossed in numerous competitions, but their rivalry has increased as a result of their meeting in the Reading Senior Cup final last season, after which several Town players moved on to the Moles.
Binfield currently have six former Henley men on their books, though only three were members of last season’s side, one of these being Asa Povey, who has not played at all since the early days of the season. The Red Kites’ Callum Carlisle was on the bench for Binfield in the cup final. That was in the final match of last season, which Henley won 5-3 after extra time. The opening match of the current term saw Binfield win 2-1 at the Invesco Perpetual Triangle in a Premier Division fixture, despite Ben Clark giving Henley an early lead. Binfield currently stand eighth in the table, which is respectable enough and certainly better than the Town have done, but they have had a somewhat up-and-down season after a promising start, and their best achievements have come not in the league but in the Berks and Bucks Senior Trophy, in which they have reached the final.
Last weekend’s home reserve game against Penn and Tylers Green Reserves produced something right out of the ordinary, completely revolving round five penalty incidents. Three were scored from, another saved and a fifth not given.
Each goalkeeper gave away a foul in the area, as a result of which Carlisle gave Henley the lead from the penalty spot after four minutes and Ryan Welsh equalised after 25 minutes. Only a couple of minutes later, Penn received a second spot-kick, which Welsh again converted. Only after a long consultation between the referee and a linesman was it decided that a further foul against the Red Kites had occurred just outside the area.
Welsh still had his chance to complete a hat-trick of penalties four minutes into the second half, but this time Gary Aulesbury parried the kick aside. Three minutes later, Simon Gray, for Penn, finally scored a goal from open play, after which the game pursued a more pedestrian course, with the visitors finishing 3-1 winners.
Last Chance Of Win? - 23 February
Henley Town are without a game this Saturday and resume operations on Wednesday when they travel to Brackley Town Saints in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League, kick-off 7.45 p.m.
On paper, this looks like the Red Kites’ best remaining chance of a league win, but Brackley, who are the reserve team of National League Brackley Town in all but name, have been the most unpredictable team in their division this season. They have conceded ten goals in one match and nine in another yet always bounce back so well that they look unlikely to be caught by any of the three teams currently below them.
Their last four results sum up Saints’ erratic form. They lost 4-0 at home to Burnham, who are now at the bottom of the table, then beat Hoyport 5-1 in a cup tie and last Saturday won 5-2 at Longlevens, only to go down 2-1 at Oxford City Nomads on Tuesday. The Town, who vacated the bottom position through their win at Ascot, will view that result with mixed feelings, though it proves that Brackley are beatable, as it also keeps Nomads above Henley in the table.
Looking back, Henley’s 3-1 home defeat by Brackley early in the season, when they were still able to field several of last season’s players, looks like a chance lost to secure a rare victory, though the upset caused by the loss of Ben Clark with a broken leg did go some way to explain the result.
Whilst the first team continue their mammoth run of away games, the reserves are now regularly at home. On Saturday their visitors are Penn and Tylers Green Reserves for a league match, kicking off at 3 p.m. Last Saturday, even playing at home for the first time since November could not inspire the reserves to break their long run of defeats. They knew that Sandhurst Town Reserves were likely to provide strong opposition but may have supposed they had caught their visitors on an off-day when they arrived without substitutes, linesman or physio and with the wrong kit! The first 27 minutes did, indeed, see the sides evenly matched, but the first goal was always likely to prove vital, and it was Sandhurst who scored it. The important difference between the sides was that the Fizzers were physically stronger than Henley’s more lightweight youngsters.
Even so, the Town were still in the game before a bad lapse in concentration presented Sandhurst with two goals in a minute just prior to the interval. The Red Kites, who showed seven changes in their starting eleven, pulled themselves together in the second half but could not improve on the 3-0 score-line.
Two Away Games For Henley - 16 February
Henley Town face two away matches in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League this week, travelling to Lydney Town on Saturday for a 3 p.m. kick-off and then to Ascot United on Tuesday, kick-off 7.45 p.m.
Though the draw they obtained against Highmoor Ibis last week was not enough to lift the Red Kites from the foot of the table, it does make their supporters more optimistic that they may yet vacate that position. The point gained was the first since Robbie Crouch took over as manager (though Henley have won as many as five cup games during that time), the clean sheet was their first in the league this season, three successive competitive matches have elapsed without a defeat for only the second time in 2016-17, and the possibility of a new record being set for successive league defeats has now evaporated.
On Saturday the Town make their longest journey of the season to take on Lydney Town in the Forest of Dean. It will be the first time Henley have ever made this trip, all three previous meetings between the sides having been at the Invesco Perpetual Triangle. The Town’s 2-1 home win over Lydney a month into the season was one of their best performances of the campaign.
Henley’s opponents on Tuesday are Ascot United. When Ascot won 5-2 at the Triangle in September, they looked a very good side, so it is rather a surprise to see them no higher than 13th in the table at present, but they have fallen away somewhat and lost 5-1 at home to Brimscombe and Thrupp last weekend. However, the recent installation of a new manager may prove the spur they need to revive their fortunes. Goalkeeper Matthew Hill, who played a number of good games for Henley before losing his place, has rejoined Ascot. Former Town player Richard Bennett is also on their books though he has recently been assisting Wargrave.
Henley Round Up - 8 February
Following 11 days’ rest, Henley Town resume activities on Saturday with a home fixture against Highmoor Ibis, kicking off at 3 p.m.
This is the Red Kites’ penultimate home game of the season in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League, and it would have been the last but for the recent postponement against Thame, which will now be played following seven successive away matches in the league. The Town will have yet another away fixture in the second round of the Bluefin Insurers Hellenic Supplementary Cup, in which they face the winners of Ascot United and Chalfont Wasps.
Standing at the foot of the table as they do, and having already played each of the teams immediately above them twice, Henley will hardly start as favourites in any of their remaining league fixtures, but, if they are to increase their points tally, tomorrow’s game and the one away at Brackley would seem their best chances of doing so.
The visitors are in no danger of relegation, but their form has deteriorated recently, with the exception of a riproaring 6-6 draw against Highworth. The Town’s 4-1 defeat at Scours Lane in October after a goalless first half was one of their more disappointing performances of the season. Highmoor Ibis’s games on Saturday and Tuesday were both postponed.
There are quite a number of former Henley players currently on the Moor’s books, though only Austin Best, Omari Holmes and Jamie Piercy have appeared in recent weeks. They are managed by the much travelled former professional Marcus Richardson, who played the odd game for Henley.
With the first team unengaged, Henley Town Reserves were looking forward to attracting a little more support and attention than usual in their home fixture with Flackwell Heath last Saturday, so it was particularly unfortunate that a waterlogged pitch caused a postponement –the more so on what turned out to be about the sunniest day of the year. The reserves will be fully tested this Saturday when they travel to Milton Keynes Academy in the league, kick-off 3 p.m.
Nothing Doing - 1 February 2017
Whether two wins against sides from lower levels will do anything to restore Henley Town’s confidence when they return to their league programme will not immediately be put to the test as they have no game on Saturday. Originally, this was the date for the Hurst match played on Tuesday evening.
With most teams engaged in cup competitions, only one match was played in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League last weekend. This saw Lydney win 4-0 at Burnham, a result that leaves Henley at the bottom of the table, but with their superior goal difference over Burnham further enhanced.
The senior side’s next fixture is at home to Highmoor Ibis on Saturday week.
Meanwhile, the reserves, following a long run of away games, will take centre stage on Saturday when they entertain third-placed Flackwell Heath Reserves in Division 2 (East), kick-off 3 p.m. Last Saturday, the reserves lost 6-2 away to Oxford City’s strong development side, with Mark Ingram and Nabil Rashid scoring for the Town.
Henley News - 26 January
After four successive frosty nights, only four of the 34 scheduled games for teams from the Uhlsport Hellenic League were able to proceed last Saturday, and Henley Town’s home league match against Thame United was not among them. It was the first time Henley’s senior side had suffered a postponement because of the weather this season, though the Oxfordshire Senior Cup match with Thame only went ahead by switching the venue.
Postponements may never be exactly welcome, but it was better for Henley to have to re-arrange a home than an away game. Had Saturday’s fixture gone ahead, they would have eight league games remaining, the last seven of which were, inexplicably, all away. As things are, they will at least have one home game to follow that long run of journeys.
One of the few games that did survive was in Northamptonshire, where Burnham beat Brackley Town Saints 4-0, thus passing Henley in the table and consigning them to the bottom position. Ten days earlier, Burnham entered into an arrangement with SloughTown, whch saw two of Slough’s coaches taking up Burnham’s management, bringing many dual-registered players in their wake. The immediate result was a 2-1 victory for the Blues over the Red Kites. Even if Henley’s results improve, they must now expect Burnham to finish with more points than had hitherto looked likely. As for Brackley, they have had an unpredictable season, doing enough to keep not only Henley and Burnham but also Oxford City Nomads below them despite having a worse goal difference than Nomads and Henley.
This week, the Town take a rest from their travails in the league as they begin their campaigns in the two cup competitions in which they still have an interest. Both games are against teams from lower levels. Henley have already played seven cup matches this season against teams from levels six or below, winning five of them, and only lack of confidence should hinder them from gaining two more victories.
On Saturday they visit Didcot Town Reserves in the first round of the Bluefin Sports Hellenic Supplementary Cup, kick-off 3 p.m. Results between Henley and Didcot over the years are not easy to summarise, for the Red Kites’ senior side has played many times against both Didcot’s first and second teams, while there were even, in 1929, two matches in which Didcot’s firsts met Henley ‘B’ as the reserves were then called. In meetings between Henley first team and Didcot Reserves, Henley have won 11 and drawn 2 to Didcot’s five victories. Prior to Henley’s promotion this year, they had met four seasons running in Division 1 (East), in the last of which the Red Kites won 6-0 away and 7-0 at home. In the present term in the same division, Didcot stand 11th out of 14 sides.
On Tuesday evening, kick-off 7.45 p.m., Henley begin their defence of the Reading Senior Cup when they entertain Hurst in the second round, both teams having had byes through the first round. Hurst were drawn at home, but the venue has been changed by mutual agreement. From the Town’s point of view, this is some recompense for having to visit Thame in the county cup after a home draw.
Though Henley are not the force they were a year ago when they carried off the trophy, Hurst have had an at least equally thin time in the Premier Division of the Thames Valley Premier League, in which they have acquired only three points to date. Though they first met as long ago as 1907-08, the paths of the two sides have crossed comparatively rarely. It is not clear whether the present Hurst club is related to the Hurst Old Boys side whom Henley met in the middle ’50s. Their most recent clash was two years ago in the third round of the same competition, when the Town gave a disappointing performance at Hurst but still won by the only goal scored.
Costly Loss? - 18 January
Following their defeat at Burnham last weekend, which could turn out to be the most costly of all those they have suffered this season, Henley Town could hardly have faced a more daunting prospect than that of meeting Thame United again on Saturday on the Invesco Perpetual Triangle. The game is in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League, and the kick-off is at 3 p.m.
It is still only eight days since Thame beat Henley 8-1 at the ASM Stadium in the Oxfordshire Senior Cup – a much more comprehensive victory than when the sides met in the league at Thame earlier in the season with the home side winning 2-0. There is no likelihood of the visitors being content to stroll through tomorrow’s game, because the title race now looks increasingly like a two-horse contest. Only one point separates Bracknell and Thame at the head of the table and each gained 3-0 home wins on Saturday against two of the league’s better sides, Tuffley and Binfield respectively. The championship could easily be decided on goal difference, so United will be well aware that the more goals they score the better.
On Saturday, the reserves travel to Wokingham and Emmbrook Reserves for a league fixture, kick-off 2.15 p.m. This is another instance of a Town side coming up against opponents just as they find their form. Last Saturday, Wokingham, who had hitherto done only slightly better than Henley, gained a 5-1 victory over Thame Reserves.
Strugglers Meet - 11 January
The meeting on Saturday of two teams struggling to maintain their status in the Uhlsport Hellenic League’s Premier Division could produce as much tension as a cup final. Bottom-of-the-table Burnham entertain Henley Town, standing one place above them, kicking off at 3 p.m.
It is unfortunately still uncertain how many clubs will be relegated; there may even be a slim possibility that no one will go down at all. It is manifest, however, that the higher a team finishes the greater its chances of surviving. In any event, the side finishing at the bottom of the heap might not be best served in the long run by staying up.
Up to a point, the contenders have experienced similar seasons. Both began badly, showed some improvement and have subsequently slipped back again. Burnham lost every one of their first 18 league and cup games, then won three of their next five. In their two following matches they lost only by the odd goal at both Longlevens and Thatcham, which was perfectly respectable, but, perhaps disheartened, they have gone down by margins of at least four goals in each of their last four outings. Nevertheless, a 4-0 reverse at Flackwell Heath last weekend was still a better result than the Town had achieved there eight days earlier. Burnham have already parted company with two “permanent” managers this season and are now in the hands of a caretaker for a second time.
Henley are only three points ahead of their opponents from the same number of games, but they also have a superior goal difference and may take slight encouragement from the fact that they won 4-2 on the Invesco Perpetual Triangle when the teams met in August.
Oxford City Nomads picked up a somewhat rare point last weekend to make the task of each side even harder. The Red Kites have now lost ten successive league matches, only two better than the unwanted record they established in 1948-49 in the Spartan League Division 1 (West).
Welcome 2017 - 4 January
Despite their good performances in the first half of the year, Henley Town will not be sorry to see the back of 2016, which ended with a big defeat that was also their ninth successive loss in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League.
But hope springs eternal, and their supporters will be willing them on Saturday, (kick-off 3 p.m.) and on Tuesday, when they have two home matches. Brimscombe and Thrupp will be the visitors for Saturday’s league fixture, which is also the first ever league match between the sides, though they clashed in the F.A. Cup at the start of the current season, when Brimscombe, with ground advantage, won 3-1. As often happens in football, both sides thought the score flattered their opponents. Henley’s case was that they had a somewhat controversial penalty awarded against them and then lost defensive lynchpin Warren Baxter through injury for the whole of the second half.
If you stopped someone in the street at Henley and asked them who Brimscombe and Thrupp were, they might guess that they were a firm of solicitors or characters in a children’s cartoon, rather than a talented football team. The two villages, which are not far from Stroud, are able to compete at such a high level partly because the only clubs in the town itself play at a much lower level. Currently 11th in the table, Brimscombe have games in hand over ever other club and look a good bet for a top-half finish.
Tuesday’s game is against Thame United in the fourth round of the Oxfordshire Senior Cup, kick-off 7.45 p.m. Hitherto the draw has been kind to the Town, but it has made up for it now by pitting them against the strongest possible opponents. The five clubs, including Oxford United, who play above Hellenic League level all make their entrance at the fifth round, so no draw could have been more difficult than one against a side who are going almost neck-and-neck with Bracknell for the Hellenic championship. In a season with its share of defeats by wide margins, the Red Kites’ 2-0 loss at Thame in the league on October 25, when the second goal came only from the penalty spot late in the game, must rank as quite a respectable performance.
Whilst Thame have a majority of victories over Henley in all their meetings over the years, this is far from the case in the Senior Cup, where the Town lead 10-5, reaching the final in 1912-13 by beating them at the penultimate stage. The last county cup clash between the sides, however, was also in the fourth round five years ago, when Thame, playing at home, won 2-1.
A large number of Henley players have moved to Binfield this season, though not all of them have stayed there. Now Moles goalkeeper Garry Aulsberry, who was preferred to Matt Hill at Flackwell Heath on Friday, has been transferred in the other direction. He has made 18 first-team appearances for Binfield this season and has been on the bench six times.
The Town Reserves visit Penn and Tylers Green Reserves on Saturday for a league fixture, kicking off at 2.15 p.m.
Friday Night Activitiy For Red Kites - 28 December
After resting over Christmas, Henley Town resume activities on Friday when they visit Flackwell Heath for a league fixture that kicks off at 7.45 pm.
The majority of teams in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League will play on Saturday as usual, but this is one of two games where the clubs have chosen to avoid New Year’s Eve and bring their game forward a day.
For different reasons, both teams badly need the points at stake. While they cannot be sure exactly how high they need to finish to avoid relegation, it is obvious that if Henley move up a place or two, they have more chance of surviving. Though they have lost their last eight league games, the Red Kites have won four of their last five cup-ties. Whilst this shows that the current side is certainly not beyond hope, the fact that all these cup victories have been gained against teams from lower levels emphasises what a gulf exists between the Premier Division and the leagues directly below them. It is a vintage year that simultaneously produces sides as good as Thame, Bracknell, Flackwell, Thatcham and perhaps Highworth, but, though the Heathens remain in third position and have won their last four matches, Thame and Bracknell now seem to be pulling away from the crowded field, and, while four Hellenic sides have applied for promotion, only one can obtain that goal.
When the sides met on the Invesco Perpetual Triangle back in August, Henley gave one of their best performances of the season, and the game was full of excitement, Nile O’Meally and Richard Bennett putting the home side 2-0 in front and Flackwell having a player sent off before equalising with two goals in the last 16 minutes. Half the Henley squad that played that day, including the two goal-scorers, have since left the club, while others are currently injured. Jack Thomson-Wheeler moved to Flackwell.
The only Henley side to play over the Christmas period was the reserves, who visited Stokenchurch in a biting wind on Christmas Eve. The players of both sides may have been surprised when this date was first announced as it is a day when football is seldom played. The lack of games elsewhere, however, attracted a good muster of ground-hoppers to Longburrow, so that the crowd nudged three figures, something that seldom occurs in Division 2 (East). Stokenchurch were able to field their strongest team for some time, and Henley had more players to choose from, the sequel being a strong performance from each side in the opening half. When the Lambs took the lead after 33 minutes, the Red Kites were slightly unfortunate. Goalkeeper Lucas Romero-Jinks, returning for the first time since breaking his finger, was standing outside his area and instinctively put out a hand as an interception came his way, Steve Park scoring direct from the resultant fee-kick. Three minutes before the interval, Patrick Gardner swooped on a ball that was not properly cleared and placed the ball in the bottom corner of the net, so the Town were right back in the game. But the day belonged to Park, who scored another three goals after the interval as the home side ended worthy 4-1 winners.
Blank Xmas Could Be Beneficial - 21 December
Henley Town have no first-team match over the long Christmas weekend, though a blank date may be no disadvantage. Boxing Day fixtures can be something of a lottery as some clubs, but not all, will have players missing over the festive period. The next first-team match is in the league at Flackwell Heath on Friday week (December 30).
Last Saturday’s win at Adderbury took the Red Kites into the fourth round of the Oxfordshire Senior Cup, the draw for which is currently awaited. For a good while now, the four highest ranked teams in the county, including Oxford United, have been exempted till the quarter-final stage, when they go into the draw with the four sides who have fought their way through from the first round. The promotion of Kidlington to the Southern League, however, has led to only three of the lesser lights going through to join the big five in this year’s competition, so Henley will be playing for one of three places.
The only Town side to have a match in the week ahead is the reserves, who, somewhat curiously, play on Christmas Eve – this being the first time for many years that any of the club’s teams have been called upon to play on this date. They travel to Stokenchurch for a league fixture, which kicks off at 2 p.m.
The reserves continue to struggle on and fulfil a useful function while they can give games to players returning after injury and those of unknown ability. For the second match running, they came up against a previously unbeaten side last Saturday, when they lost 6-0 at Chalvey (WMC) Sports. This was, in fact, a much better result than their previous one!
Cup Tie Mode Continues - 16 December
Following Tuesday night’s game at Fairford, Henley Town will again be in cup-tie mode on Saturday when they visit Adderbury Park in the third round of the Oxfordshire Senior Cup, kick-off 1.30 p.m.
Adderbury compete in the Premier Division of the Oxfordshire Senior League. They are exactly halfway up the table but have several games in hand over all the other clubs and have been beaten only once in league or cup matches all season. In the previous round, whilst the Red Kites were winning 3-2 at North Leigh United, Adderbury gained a 2-1 success at Eynsham.
The sides have clashed only once before, and that was in the second round of the same competition in 1999-2000 on the Invesco Perpetual Triangle, Henley winning 2-1, but only through a Paul Hamilton goal in the last minute of extra time. In 1995, the original Adderbury club amalgamated with A.P. Sports and took the name Adderbury Park. The Town had also played A.P. twice, winning both times. Adderbury Park spent three seasons in the Hellenic League, starting in 2002.
Henley Town Reserves were beaten by the hefty margin of 11-0 in the Oxfordshire Intermediate Cup at Berinsfield on Saturday, but, after it had been impossible to raise a side the previous week, the players deserve credit for fulfilling the fixture against such strong opposition despite their much weakened state. Berinsfield, from the top division of the North Berks League, are unbeaten in league and cup this season and have been held to a draw only once.
The reserves might also take some consolation from the fact that theirs was far from being the biggest margin of defeat for an Hellenic side at the weekend, for, in Division 1 (West), Cheltenham Saracens’ first team were beaten 17-0 at home to Fairford Town. The bad news from Henley’s point of view was that their own first team were down to play Fairford three days later!
The reserves return to league football this week, visiting Chalvey on Saturday for a 2 p.m. kick-off. Chalvey are another side unbeaten in league matches, being one of four teams in Division 2 (East) of the Uhlsport Hellenic League who seem to be in a different class from all the others. The reserves have a hit a run of especially difficult games at just the wrong time.
Henley Travels' - 7 December
There will be a distinct lack of entertainment at the Invesco Perpetual Triangle this weekend when Henley Town’s first team, and reserves are both playing away. This will be a scenario that supporters will need to get used to. Subject to any late changes, the senior side will not appear at home again before January, while the reserves will not do so until February.
The first team have 13 league matches remaining, only three of which are at home, and, unless any changes are made, they will have to travel for all their last seven games. If there is anything to be said for such an arrangement, it is not immediately obvious. As chance would have it, the Town have also been drawn away at the next stage of the Bluefin Sport Supplementary Cup, Perpetua Press Floodlit Cup and Oxfordshire Senior Cup, although, following a first round bye, they will be at home to Westwood United in the second stage of the Reading Senior Cup.
The reserves’ remaining fixtures are more evenly divided between home and away venues, but they include runs of six successive away and six home games, which do nothing to encourage players to turn out for a struggling side.
On Saturday, the first team visit Royal Wootton Bassett Town in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League, kick-off 3 p.m. Early in the season, Henley lost 3-1 at home to these opponents. Although they had largely themselves to blame for playing three short for much of the game, their spirit was such that they scored while having only eight men on the field, promising that they might achieve more against these opponents come the return match. In the interim, however, Bassett have made more progress than Henley and are now in the top half of the table. Henley can expect to be without Brad Hoy, Chris Byrne and Seve Mayberry, who have all been added to a still increasing injury list, though Mayberry also faces a one-match suspension.
On Tuesday, the Red Kites will be on their travels again when they oppose Fairford Town in the third round of the Perpetua Press Hellenic Floodlit Cup, kick-off 7.45 p.m. The sides have met 12 times previously, each time between 2001-02 and 2011-12 and in the Hellenic Premier Division. Honours have been fairly even, with the Town winning four times to Fairford’s five. Their last clash, five years ago, was a 1-1 draw at the Triangle after Henley had won 3-1 away. Fairford are now in Division 1 (West) but are strongly positioned to finish as champions.
The reserves journey to Berinsfield in the third round of the Oxfordshire Intermediate Cup, kick-off 1.30 p.m. Something seems to have gone slightly awry this season with the qualifications for county cups, with Goring United, from Division 2 of the Thames Valley League, playing in the county Senior Cup and with their reserves thus moving in the Intermediate Cup, where Henley beat them 5-0 in the previous round, while Berinsfield, who are top of the leading division of the North Berks League, also compete in the Intermediate Cup. Berinsfield will be one of the teams favoured to take the trophy, while Henley failed to raise a side to oppose Aston Clinton Development last week. They did, however, move up from the bottom of the table for the second time recently through the generosity of Wokingham Reserves, whose goal difference again deteriorated.
Ardley On Saturday - 1 December
Henley Town are at home on Saturday against Ardley United in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League.
In the nine previous meetings between the clubs, Henley have yet to record a victory. Ardley have gradually climbed higher in the table as the season has progressed. Last Saturday’s 6-3 win over Highmoor Ibis sent them up from 10th to 7th place in the table. It also meant that their wins now outnumber their defeats. Back in September, Henley visited Ardley before the north Oxfordshire club had really hit their stride and took an early lead, but, after having Andrew Nunn sent off before the interval, they eventually went down by a 4-1 margin.
Also on Saturday, the reserves are away in the league to Aston Clinton Development, kicking off at 2 p.m. As there is no automatic relegation from Division 2, it might be thought that there is nothing more than pride to play for for the teams near the foot of the table. However, Henley, Aston Clinton and Wokingham Reserves have all been equal on three points for several weeks and should be vying with one another to finish above the other two and certainly to avoid bottom position. A month ago, Henley rose above their two fellow-strugglers, but Saturday’s 6-0 home defeat against Oxford City Development saw the Red Kites drop back to the foot of the table on goal difference.
The Town were handicapped by the club’s continued goalkeeping crisis, with only Matt Hill remaining both fit and available. Recently installed team manager Jordan Blake had no option but to take the ’keeper’s jersey himself and understandably was found wanting when City scored two of their three first-half goals, which arrived at the 4th, 21st and 45th minutes. Right on the interval, Ryan North made the Town’s best effort thus far.
By the second half, Blake began to get to grips with his goalkeeping duties and made a number of good saves, and, though City scored twice more, it looked as though Henley, who had several shots cleared off the goal-line, would have the minor consolation of equalling the performance of their own first team, who had lost 5-0 to this City side in a cup game. In stoppage time, however, the visitors won a somewhat mysterious penalty, which was fired home on the rebound after the original kicker had struck the post.
Both teams were very young, but, crucially, City were physically stronger and very fast on the break. The Henley side included Aaron Lopez, who has been transferred from Burnham. Reserve player Harry Campbell was recently transferred to Wantage Town.
Trip To Tuffley - 23 November
Saturday sees Henley Town travel to Tuffley Rovers for an Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division fixture.
Tuffley is an older settlement than Henley but has now become a suburb Gloucester. This will be the Town’s first trip to Glevum Park for 12 years. Several of the Red Kites’ drawn games this season have been more meritorious than some of their small number of victories. Their home game against Tuffley on September 17 falls into this category. Three-one ahead until the 83rd minute, Henley were disappointed at the last to gain only one point even though Tuffley were well above them in the table. Rovers deserved credit for their comeback, however, as did both sides for fashioning a most exciting contest.
Tuffley, who run five Saturday sides for adult men, currently stand sixth in the table but lost 2-0 at Wootton Bassett in their last outing despite dominating the game territorially.
While the first team’s game remained unscathed, all the Town’s other sides fell foul of the weather last week. On Thursday, Alfredian Park was waterlogged, thus preventing the youths from visiting Wantage. The reserves’ home game on Saturday was one of a small number of games to be called off. The reserves are at home Oxford City Development on Saturday. Jordan Blake, the recently installed reserve-team manager has signed as a player in case of need. To do this he had to obtain a transfer from A.F.C. Aldermaston.
New Stand - 17 November
The new covered standing is being erected behind the goal at the car park end at Henley Town's Invesco Perpetual Triangle ground.
Following a heavy programme throughout the first three months of the season, Henley Town’s first team have had only one Saturday match in the past three weeks and only the Henley Charity Cup game in midweek during the same period. They get back to playing twice in the week ahead, starting on Saturday when they visit North Leigh United in the second round of the Oxfordshire Senior Cup, neither team having been required to compete in the previous stage. The kick-off is at 3 p.m.
The teams had met only twice prior to this season, and that was two years ago when they were drawn together in both the Oxfordshire Senior Cup and the Hellenic Floodlit Cup. Curiously, this season exactly the same thing has happened, although this will be the sides’ first meeting at United’s ground.
When the sides met at the Invesco Perpetual Triangle on October 11, the Red Kites looked set up to be knocked out of the Perpetua Press Floodlit Cup when they trailed 3-1 early in the second half, but they recovered to force extra time and then win on a penalty shoot-out, in which Matt Hill saved three times. United have had a moderate season in Division 1 (West) but won 3-2 at local rivals Letcombe last weekend.
On Tuesday, the Town return to their league programme when they entertain Bracknell Town in a Premier Division fixture, kick-off 7.45 p.m. Bracknell stood sixth after last weekend’s matches but look certain to rise higher, having several games in hand over all the teams above them. They are a strong side, but Henley did very well to take a point from them on 13 September, despite having Mitch Cooper sent off and losing goalkeeper Ben Hitchens through injury, both during the first half. Even then, Bracknell salvaged a point only through converting a penalty on the rebound. Since then, however, the Robins have gone from strength to strength, winning nine of their next 11 league and cup fixtures and must be firm favourites for this game.
The reserves have a rearranged fixture on Saturday when they are at home to Flackwell Heath Reserves in the league, kick-off 2.15 p.m.
Revised Management Group - 2 November
Henley Town have now announced not only, as has been keenly awaited, the name of their new manager but also a completely revised management group, which affects all their teams except the Sunday side.
The new manager and head coach is Rob Creech (pictured left) , who played a few times for the Town in the past but will be better remembered by Town supporters for his appearances against them for Peppard. Less than three years ago, he was a member of the Mortimer Veterans side that reached the final of the national over-40s cup. Off the field, he also manages the Berks and Bucks F.A.’s under-16 side. The holder of a UEFA B licence, Creech was formerly an elite/development coach at Reading F.C. and until recently was first-team coach at National League Hungerford Town.
Jock Mowat, who had been acting as Henley’s caretaker manager since the departure of Gerry McGinty, will act as Creech’s assistant.
The new reserve team manager, Tranell Richardson (right), is also a former Town player, though of rather more recent vintage. Last season, he became the last manager of Reading Town and had just seemed to have turned the club round when its owners decided to wind it up. Richardson will be assisted by Jordan Blake.
There is also a change at the helm of the youth team, where Andy Findlay replaces Elliott Harper. Findlay’s assistant has yet to be named.
On Saturday, the Red Kites are at home to Highworth Town in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League, kick-off 3 p.m. Highworth have produced some consistently strong sides over the years and are best known for reaching the semi-finals of the F.A. Vase two years ago. They were due to replay against A.C. London in this year’s competition on Wednesday evening. In the current term, they stand fourth in the table, though, like Henley, they have played more games than most of the opposition. Last Saturday they won 3-2 away to Oxford City Nomads.
The sides have met 12 times previously and could not have shared the honours more evenly, with each team winning five games with two drawn. Their last meetings were five seasons ago, prior to Henley’s relegation on the grounds of their facilities, and produced two remarkable results. At the end of August 2011, the Town were beaten 3-0 at home only to beat the Worthians 4-0 in Wiltshire a fortnight later.
Henley Town Reserves, having scratched from their cup-tie at Clanfield last week, return to league football on Saturday when they visit Sandhurst Town Reserves for a 3 p.m. kick-off.
No Game For Managerless Henley - 26 October
Having played two matches a week for much of the season, Henley Town now take a holiday with no game scheduled in the week ahead. Tuesday’s match also meant that the Red Kites had already fulfilled half their league fixtures, so this is a fitting opportunity to review their current situation.
Promotion from third position was always likely to prove a mixed blessing when there has always been a big gap between the Premier Division and Division 1 of the Uhlsport Hellenic League, and Gerry McGinty, who has himself since resigned, was further hindered by the resignation of his predecessor, Craig Sumner, not coming till well into the close season. The mass exodus of players is too well known to need emphasising, but one may add that more clubs are probably paying more money than in Henley’s former stints in the top grade.
At the start of the campaign, McGinty announced that the club’s first target must be to avoid relegation, and that, even more so now, must be the target for his successor. What is necessary to achieve this, however, is far from clear. Normally, four clubs are eligible for relegation – though these will be the bottom four only if those above them are judged still to have the appropriate facilities. Following the withdrawal of Carterton, there are now only 18 teams in the Premier Division, and it is thought the League would like there to be at least 20 sides, so even if four clubs have the necessary ground gradings to come up, only two might go down. Should a club be relegated from the Southern League, however, and the winners of the Uhlsport Hellenic League unwilling or lacking the ground grading to replace it, that club would fill one of the vacant berths.
To be certain of surviving through their own efforts then, the Town need to finish with four teams below them. Only Burnham, who are probably doomed to finish last despite recent improvement, have picked up fewer points per game, however. But every team that Henley pass in the table increases their chances of survival. They will not be helped by the unbalanced nature of their programme. Only six of the 17 league fixtures they have played to date have been away, leaving them with a large preponderance of away games as winter draws on.
Though the Town cannot hope to attract any of the biggest names in Hellenic football to the Invesco Perpetual Triangle at present, a new manager may be able to bring in a few players who would help raise the standard. On Saturday, Seve Mayberry, a local player, who was in the side that won promotion in 2010-11, returned on a transfer from Burnham. Tom Hogan was serving a one-match suspension, while Chris Nelson, who was out injured on Saturday, began a three-match ban on Tuesday.
The reserves, who also lost their manager recently, had again to apply for a postponement last weekend, but hope to be back to normal in time to visit Clanfield ’85 Reserves on Saturday. The match is in the first round of the Hellenic Chairman’s Reserve Cup and kicks off at 2.15 pm.
Reserves Team Manager Required - 23 October
Henley Town Football Club are urgently looking to appoint a new Reserve Team Manager with coaching qualifications.
The Reserve team will include fringe first teamers but the person should be keen on bringing young players up to Level 5 standard. If you are interested in joining the Red Kites please contact the Club Chairman Kim Chapman on 07515892909 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Inaugural Contest - 20 October
Henley Town host Longlevens in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division on Saturday, this will be the first ever meeting between the clubs.
Founded in 1954, Longlevens, from the suburbs of Gloucester, played in the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League before achieving promotion to the county league as recently as 2011. In their second season, they won the league, retaining the title next season and being promoted to the Hellenic League. Here they won Division 1 (West) at their first attempt, gaining promotion to the Premier Division, where they finished tenth out of 20 teams last season. In the current campaign, they stand just below the halfway mark.
With only three days between the games, the Town move on from opposing a team they have never met before to one they first played 126 years ago when, on Tuesday, they visit Thame United, kick-off 7.45 p.m. In the 54 previous matches, Henley have won 21 times to Thame’s 27, with five games drawn and one abandoned. They last clashed in the 2011-12 season, when they did so three times, twice in the Hellenic Premier Division and once in the Oxfordshire Senior Cup. Thame won twice by the odd goal, while the third game was drawn.
In the current season, United are unbeaten in the league and many people’s favourites for the title.
It was Henley Town Reserves who should have been playing at Thame last weekend, but they were unable to field a side and had to seek a postponement. Satturday's Division Two East fixture away to Oxford City Development, who recently beat Henley’s first team 5-0. The kick-off is at 3 p.m.
Formidable Task For Henley "Caretaker" - 14 October
Caretaker manager Jock Mowatt could hardly have had a more formidable task than to be brought in at short notice to take charge of a side still haemorrhaging players in a game against the league leaders.
As feared last week, by Saturday Grant Kemp had transferred to Binfield and Jordan Goodard to Wokingham. In addition, Richard Bennett, who went to Binfield at the start of the season but then returned to Henley, has now moved into the Combined Counties League with Badshot Lea. Of the 14 players who took the field in the Reading Senior Cup final in May, only four now remain. These include Andrew Nunn, then playing in goal but currently on the field, and Ben Clark, whose broken leg is likely to keep him on the sidelines for a long while yet.
Players of the calibre of some of those who have left cannot, of course, be replaced overnight. In the meantime, Mowatt’s first task, therefore, must be to maintain the team’s fighting spirit and unity of purpose. These will sometimes enable a side to pick up points in games against opponents with more technical ability.
Saturday sees Henley at home to Oxford City Nomads, kick-off 3 p.m. Though there is no such thing as an easy league fixture for the Red Kites, this one gives them more chance than most of picking up a point or three. At Oxford in August, the home side won only by the odd goal, scored after the Town had used all their substitutes and then been reduced to ten men through injury. Nomads stand only two points above Henley in the lower reaches of the table.
On Tuesday, the Town visit Highmoor Ibis for a 7.45 p.m. kick-off. The Reading side are currently only 13th in the league, but they have played fewer games than any other side and won more than they have lost. Since the amalgamation between Highmoor and Ibis in 2001, they have met Henley only three times, each of them at home and in the Reading Senior Cup, where they have a 2-1 lead on victories to date.
Henley Town Reserves fell to the foot of the table at the weekend when they lost 4-0 away to Chalfont Wasps Reserves, a team they had previously beaten at home. On Saturday they visit Thame United Reserves in the league, kick-off 3 p.m.
Manager/Coach Position - 10 October
Henley Town are looking to appoint a new First Team Manager/Coach to replace Gerry McGinty who has been appointed as Youth Team Coach at Sky Bet League Division 2 club Barnet.
If you are interested in joining Henley Town Football Club please contact the Club Chairman Kim Chapman on 07515892909 or email: email@example.com
Red Kites Require Win - 6 October
Following three successive defeats in three different competitions, in the course of which they have conceded 14 goals, Henley Town badly need a win this week when they have league and cup fixtures scheduled.
One reason for the Red Kites’ problems is the number of players who have caught the eye of other clubs. Two more are currently the subject of seven-day approaches, with Binfield hoping to obtain the services of Grant Kemp and Wokingham and Emmbrook interested in Jordan Goddard. Both were members of the side that won the Reading Senior Cup last year, a fair proportion of whom have already departed.
On Saturday Henley have no light task in entertaining Thatcham Town in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division, kick-off 3 p.m. Thatcham are the current table-toppers, though all the pursuing pack have games in hand. The Town lost only 2-1 at Waterside Park in August, but more recently lost top scorer Nile O’Meally to the Berkshire club.
On Tuesday at 7.45 p.m., the Town are again at home, this time to North Leigh United in the second round of the Perpetua Press Hellenic Floodlit Cup, in the first round of which both sides had byes. United play in Division 1 (West), a division below Henley, and their current record is fairly modest. The Town would be unwise to underestimate their opponents, however, as both their last two defeats have been against teams from lower levels. The visitors, who are an offshoot of Southern League North Leigh Football Club, have met the Red Kites twice before, both times in the season before last. Each game was on the Invesco Perpetual Triangle, and United finished 4-1 winners both in the Oxfordshire Senior Cup and in the Hellenic Floodlight Cup, in which the sides now meet again.
Cup Mode Continues - 29 September
Following last week’s defeat in the Buildbase FA Vase, Henley Town remain in cup-tie mode on Saturday when they visit Oxford City Development in the first round of the Bluefin Sport Hellenic Challenge Cup, kick-off 3 p.m.
The position concerning the teams under the wing of Oxford City Football Club grows ever more confusing. Not only do the semi-autonomous Oxford City Nomads play in the Hellenic Premier, where their opponents include Henley Town, but Oxford City Development have this season joined Division 2 (East) while Oxford City Nomads Development play in Division 2 (West). At first glance, a game against a team from the same division as Henley’s reserve team might make their supporters suppose that the senior side have had an easy draw. This, however, is unlikely to prove the case. City’s Development side stand top of the table, unbeaten and with a 7-1 victory over the much fancied Milton Keynes Academy directly behind them.
It is not too surprising that Henley have never beaten City’s first team in their occasional meetings over the years, but in the 17 clashes with their reserve side starting in 1902-03 they have won only five times with no games drawn. The Town were again reminded last week that when a club begins to build a stronger side it soon becomes the victim of predators. The loss of top goal-scorer Nile O’Meally to Thatcham Town is likely to prove a severe blow.
More encouraging is the new light in which Henley’s early departure from the FA Cup by an unflattering 3-1 margin at Brimscombe & Thrupp can be seen now that Brimscombe are the last Uhlsport Hellenic side left in the event. After beating the Red Kites, they also put paid to Highmoor Ibis, Peacehaven & Telscombe and Brislington, and they are now due to travel to Weymouth in the third qualifying round.
Henley Town Reserves entertain Milton Keynes Academy in the league on Saturday, kick-off 3 p.m. It was no difficult task to pick the reserves’ side last weekend as they had to field the only 11 players who were available when they were visited by bottom-of-the-table side Wokingham and Emmbrook Reserves. Once they had let in goals in the 8th and 20th minutes, Henley were inevitably chasing the game, but they reduced the arrears in some style five minutes later when Ben Bedford played a clever diagonal ball to Hugh Barklem, who took the ball on a pace to elude a defender and placed the ball past the ‘keeper. After the interval, the Town again got off to a bad start, conceding further goals in the 50th and 53rd minutes. But with 20 minutes remaining, Barklem was brought down in the box, and Dan Brigder efficiently converted the penalty. With three minutes left, Barklem latched on to a poor clearance by the goalkeeper, who made partial amends by keeping out the shot, but only for Brigder to score his second from the rebound. It was a spirited rejoinder by Henley but came too late.
5 Years No Vase Victory - 22 September
Henley Town take a break from trying to improve their league position on Saturday, turning their attention to the second qualifying round of the Buildbase FA Vase, in which they visit Alton for a 3 p.m. kick-off. It is five years since Henley managed a victory in this competition.
Alton play in Division 1 of the Sydenhams Wessex League. They are in the top half of the table but have played more games than most of their competitors and went down 4-1 at Christchurch last weekend. Both clubs had byes through the first qualifying round.
Alton’s history is complex because of a series of amalgamations and name changes. At the time of their only previous meeting with Henley at first-team level, which came in 1983-84, they were known as Alton Town. The match was a pre-season friendly, which the Hampshire club, playing at home, won 6-1.
Henley Reserves have a league fixture on the Triangle on Saturday, when they entertain Wokingham and Emmbrook Reserves, kick-off 3 p.m. Last Saturday, the reserves went down 5-1 when they visited a strong Flackwell Heath reserve side. The home team scored twice before the interval and three times afterwards before substitute Ben Bedgord reduced the Town’s arrears.
Henley Were Scheduled To Play Carterton - 7 September
Carterton Football Club, who were due to entertain Henley Town on Saturday in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League, formally withdrew from the league on Monday afternoon.
The news did not come as a complete surprise because they had failed to raise teams for their previous four fixtures, presumably incurring a hefty fine. After they had begun the season by playing three league matches and an F.A. Cup tie, their manager resigned, with most of the players following in his wake. A new management team was appointed last week but also proved unable to put a team together.
Carterton were promoted this season, having won the championship of Division 1 (West). Cheltenham Saracens, who were due to be promoted from second place, had also faced a walk-out by both manager and players and only agreed to stay in the league if they could remain in the lower division. Henley gained promotion from Division 1 (East) as the two sides who finished above them had inadequate facilities. They, too, suffered an unexpected managerial change during the summer but now seem to be steadying the ship.
Besides emphasising the lack of loyalty in football, these events give further proof of what a large step promotion from Division 1 to the top level can frequently turn out to be.
There is another league match for Henley on Tuesday next week when they travel to Bracknell Town for a 7.45 p.m. kick-off. Bracknell finished 14th last season but, though then a division above the Town, lost by the only goal of the game on the Triangle in the third round of the Reading Senior Cup. They moved up to seventh place in the table after Saturday’s games, following a 5-2 win at Burnham.
Jordan Goddard, having served his suspension, will be available for selection by the Red Kites. Goalkeeper Matt Hill, who made an excellent impression in his first two games for Henley, was obtained on a transfer from Ascot United. Two players have been transferred out. Jordan Gumbs, who had made two appearances for the Red Kites, once as a substitute, has returned to Penn and Tylers Green, while former captain Richard Thomas, who does not expect to play regularly this season, has moved to Finchampstead, where he lives.
Henley Town Reserves are at home in the league on Saturday against Thame United Reserves, kicking off at 3 p.m. In last week’s game away to Holyport Reserves, they conceded goals in the 6th and 36th minutes, but Bailey Curtis reduced the arrears three minutes later. Holyport increased their lead soon after the Interval, but Sam Williams, in his second spell at Henley, made it 3-2 from the penalty spot, but only for Holyport to double their lead before the finish.
Signs Of Improvement - 31 August
Following a long run of narrow defeats at the start of the season, Henley Town showed signs of coming to terms with Premier Division football when they took four points over the Bank Holiday weekend. That will add to the interest of their two matches in the Uhlsport Hellenic League this week, when Jordan Goddard will be available for selection after suspension.
Henley were originally down to play Brimscombe and Thrupp on Saturday, but Brimscombe are still alive in the FA Cup, in which they beat the Red Kites at the opening stage, so Lydney Town will now be the visitors for a 3 p.m. kick-off. This game looks only marginally easier than the one initially scheduled, with Lydney, who finished twelfth last season, having shot up to fifth place in the table on Monday.
The two teams have never previously met in a league fixture, their only two earlier meetings being in the Hellenic Challenge Cup and Supplementary Cup in 2012-13 and 2014-15 respectively. Both games were at Henley but won by the visitors.
Tuesday’s game is away to Ardley United, kicking off at 7.30 p.m. In many respects, this fixture is similar to Saturday’s. Ardley finished one place behind Lydney last season and have had the better of the Town in their small number of previous meetings. They have clashed eight times in all, six of them in the league in Henley’s earlier sojourns in the Premier Division and twice in the Oxfordshire Senior Cup. Ardley have won six of these matches and drawn two. These were both in the league in the 2005-06 season
In the current campaign, however, Ardley have not yet quite recaptured the form that has made them formidable opponents over the years. They stand two places below Henley in the table at present with the same number of points, but, crucially, with two games in hand.
Bank Holiday At Home - 25 August
Henley Town have two home matches in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League over the holiday weekend.
On Saturday they entertain Burnham, kick-off 3 p.m. Both teams have got off to worrying starts to the season and fill the bottom two places in the table. Each has lost all its league fixtures and made the earliest possible departure from the F.A. Cup. However, while the Red Kites were suffering a further narrow defeat at Oxfordon Tuesday, Burnham were losing 11-0 at home to Thatcham, a team whom Henley had held to a single-goal margin at the weekend.
The match was also keenly anticipated as it would have brought former Town manager Dave Tuttle back to the Invesco Perpetual Triangle for the first time. However, it was announced on Monday that Tuttle had resigned as manager of Burnham. Former England international Luther Blissett and Paul Thomas will be jointly in charge there pending a permanent appointment. Four players who appeared under Tuttle at the Triangle are currently on Burnham’s books, though David Hoar, arguably the best, will be suspended for tomorrow’s game. The others are Trannell Richardson, Seve Mayberry and Paul Abbott.
All the seven previous meetings between Henley and Burnham’s first teams came between 1952 and 1955, when both were members of the Great Western Combination. The Blues had a fine side at the time, winning six of these games. In more recent times, Burnham’s reserves spent a couple of seasons in Division 1 (East) of the Hellenic, with Henley’s seniors again registering only one victory.
The Red Kites’ visitors on Bank Holiday Monday are Flackwell Heath. In the hope of avoiding traffic congestion in the car-park, this will be an evening game, kicking off at 7.45 p.m. Curiously, Flackwell are the only other team Henley played in the Great Western Combination and now oppose in the Hellenic League. In addition, they are another of the few clubs whose first and second teams have both opposed Henley’s senior side in competitive games. They were almost the equal of Burnham in the Great Western days and have kept a consistently strong team over the years, getting the better of the Town more often than not. Having finished third in the Premier Division last season , they look set for another successful campaign. In the F.A. Cup, they have beaten Baldock Town 6-3 at home and then Coggenhoe United 5-1 away.
When Asa Povey signed on for Henley but moved to Binfield after one match and Richard Bennett joined the Berkshire club in the summer only to return to the Triangle, the part of a third player to star in the Reading Senior Cup final was almost overlooked, for, though Sean Moore signed for Binfield some time back, he had not taken the field for them till coming on as a substitute on Saturday. Now that he has done that, there would seem no immediate prospect on his leaving Stubbs Lane.
Reserves Assistant Manager - 23 August
Henley Town Football club are on look out for an Assistant to their Reserve Team Manager.
The reserve team is predominantly very young and it would be helpful if the applicant had some coaching and first aid experience. Please apply to the Chairman Kim Chapman on 07515892909
Games Thick & Fast - 17 August
Henley Town are now well into a taxing run of fixtures in which they have to play twice a week for a long period. This week, they are away in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League both Saturday and on Tuesday.
Saturday sees Henley travel to Thatcham Town. Over the years, there have been 26 meetings in which both clubs fielded their first teams, the first being as long ago as the 1897-98 season. Thatcham have won 12 of these games to Henley’s nine, with five being drawn. Rivalry was particularly strong in 1958-59, when Thatcham won the Hellenic Division 1, with Henley three points behind in third place. Each beat the other 2-1 at home.
Four seasons ago, Thatcham Reserves were by then in Division 1 (East), and Henley, who had not won in the league all season, conquered them by scoring in the injury time at the end of their final match amid scenes of great jubilation from the players.
Oxford City Nomads are the Town’s hosts on Tuesday, kicking off at 7.45 p.m. Finishing in the top half last season, they met with mixed fortunes at the start of the new campaign, losing 4-1 at home to Bracknell but drawing away to the strong Longlevens side. Nomads, though now under the wing of Oxford City, emerged from the old Quarry Nomads club. Henley played many keen games against Quarry, but have lost all three previous meetings with Nomads in their present guise, the Red Kites being well beaten at home in the F.A. Vase last season, an impressive visiting side finishing 5-1 in front.
All promoted clubs hope to strengthen their sides when moving up, but, conversely, successful teams at Henley’s level are also apt to have their players headhunted in the summer, so it was not a total surprise when Richard Bennett, top scorer in the last two seasons, was snapped up by Binfield. It was more of a shock when Asa Povey made the same move because he had signed for the Town and appeared in their opening game before requesting a transfer. Henley’s victory over the Moles in the Reading Senior Cup final made these developments more poignant.
Captain Warren Baxter could be out for a month following his injury at Brimscombe, while, as it is almost impossible to appeal against red cards nowadays, the Town look like being some way short of full strength following last weekend’s controversial contest. Fortunately, some players then absent are expected to make a quick return.
Henley Town Reserves resumed league football after an 18-month gap last weekend, visiting Lynchpin and going down 6-2, Ben Bedgord scoring both their goals. Lynchpin won the Premier Division of the East Berks League last season before moving up into Division 2 (East) of the Hellenic. They looked more than able to cope with their promotion. Chalvey, runners-up in the East Berks, made the same move and began with an 11-0 win over Wokingham and Emmbrook Reserves. There were some encouraging signs for both teams. The reserves entertain Chalfont Wasps Reserves in a league fixture on Saturday kick-off 3 p.m.
Two In A Row - 11 August
After their excursion into the Emirates FA Cup last Saturday, Henley Town return to their league programme this week with two home games.
On Saturday Royal Wootton Bassett Town are the visitors for a 3 p.m. kick-off, followed on Tuesday by Brackley Town Saints, when the kick-off is at 7.45 p.m. Though there will be precious few easy games for newly promoted Henley in the Premier Division of the Uhlsport Hellenic League, they do seem to have a fair chance of picking up points this week as their two opponents finished 15th and 16th respectively last season.
Five years ago, Wootton Bassett became only the third town in the country to be allowed a royal prefix, most of Henley’s games against them having taken place when the football club’s name was shorter. Of the ten previous meetings between the sides, the first eight occurred on one of the Town’s previous sojourns in the Premier Division, with Henley winning four and drawing two of them. Subsequently, the sides have clashed twice in cup-ties, when Bassett have made up lost ground with two victories, the most recent being two years ago in the Hellenic Challenge Cup, when the Red Kites went down 3-2 at home. In the present season, like Henley, Bassett began with a home defeat in the league and followed this by losing away in the F.A. Cup.
Brackley Town Saints are one of several teams now in the Hellenic League who, though officially a separate club, function largely as a reserve side for a more senior body. Two seasons ago, when they were still officially Brackley Town’s development side and named as such, they were promoted to the top level after finishing second in Division1 (East), but the Red Kites took four points from their two games.
Saints have had a successful pre-season but have yet to play a competitive fixture.
Two more members of last season’s squad, Andrew Nunn and Matthew Godwin, have now re-signed for Henley, but Richard Thomas has announced his retirement. Richard Bennett has joined Binfield, though he was left on the bench in their match against Henley.
Back In The Cup- 4 August
This Saturday Henley Town make their first foray into the Emirates FA Cup for eight years when they travel to Brimscombe and Thrupp for an extra preliminary round tie, kicking off at 3 p.m.
Although, like most other small-town sides, the Town have seldom made much of a mark in the F.A. Cup, they can claim to have played a small part in helping to put the competition on the firm footing it was soon to achieve. When Henley first entered in 1879-80, only five of the 54 sides who took part (Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Reading and the two Nottingham clubs) play today in the Premiership or the Football League, most of whose 92 membership had still to see the light of day.
While national cup competitions quite often bring together sides that have never met before, it is remarkable that Henley and Brimscombe have now been paired as they were already scheduled to make their first ever meeting - in the league following the Town’s promotion.
Brimscombe is a couple of miles south of Stroud and the most prominent club in that area. They claim to find their roots in a team formed in 1886, though the two original village clubs amalgamated only in the 1970s. It is during the last seven seasons that they have really come to prominence. In 2010-11, they won the Gloucestershire County League and were promoted to Division 1 (West) of the Hellenic League, which they won at the second attempt. Moving into the Premier Division, they have successively finished 12th, 10th and 5th of 20 teams, last season also reaching the third round proper of the F.A. Vase and then going out only after a replay.
In the current term, they have won three, lost three and drawn one of their pre-season games, mainly against very strong opposition. On Tuesday, while Henley were going down by the odd goal to Binfield, Brimscombe also lost at home, beaten 2-0 by Lydney Town.
To confuse those Henley supporters who have not yet adapted to their team being called the Red Kites, Brimscombe’s nickname is the Kites’ old one – the Lilywhites.
In the event of a replay being required, the sides will meet again at the Invesco Perpetual Triangle on Tuesday, kicking off at 7.45 p.m. The winners will again be involved in an all Hellenic affair in the next round, visiting the winners of Carterton and Highmoor Ibis.
Henley Town Pre-Season Round-Up - 29 July
Henley Town play their first game since their promotion to the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division on Tuesday, when they entertain Binfield, kick-off 7.45 p.m.
The first meeting between the sides was in the 1948-49 season, but supporters of the two clubs will need no reminder as to when they last met, for that was in the Reading Senior Cup final at the very end of last season. Although Henley finished deserving winners of an excellent game, victory was gained only after extra time and the sending off of a Binfield player. The Moles also finished comfortably in the top half of the Premier Division table. Overall, Binfield have beaten the Town 21 times, compared with 13 losses and four draws.
Binfield appear to have strengthened their squad, with several important new signings, but full-back Callum Carlisle, on the substitutes’ bench for the final, has moved to Henley, while ex-Henley player Jemel Johnson has joined Thatcham Town.
Neither club is likely to welcome a midweek start for its league fixtures, but the Hellenic League is no way to blame for this. The extra preliminary round of the F.A. Cup has been scheduled for an earlier date than ever before. The only alternatives to the league starting in midweek, then, would have been a July start (unlikely to be approved) or for teams to go straight into one of the season’s biggest games without a previous competitive match. The Hellenic League, amongst others, protested to the F.A., but their pleas fell upon deaf ears.
Another strange feature of the fixture list is that five of the Red Kites’ first six league fixtures are all at home, something that will seem enjoyable now but less so later in the season.
It is unfortunate for new manager Gerry McGinty that Craig Sumner’s resignation did not come at the start of the close season, giving him more time to build his own side, but the new helmsman has looked at as many players as possible. In their first four friendlies, all away, the Town, both fielding and opposing teams of differing strength, won twice and drew twice. They beat R.A.F. (Benson) 2-0 and A.F.C. Aldermaston 1-0, then shared the spoils at Windsor (2-2) and Rotherfield United (3-3). Saturday’s game at Cantley Park against Finchampstead had to be called off because travellers had invaded the ground. Henley then won 3-1 at Hambleden on Tuesday in the annual Stewards Cup match.
While Bennett, Moore and Nunn of last year’s side had not re-signed at the time of writing, McGinty has brought in a number of new signings. These are mainly unknown quantities to Henley supporters at present, but they will have the chance to catch up with some of them tonight (Friday) when the Red Kites make their first home appearance, Wokingham and Emmbrook being the visitors for a 7.45 p.m. kick-off.
This is the fifth time Henley have been promoted to the Premier Division, and it is difficult at present to predict how their season will go. However, supporters should be aware that the gap between the Premier Division and Division 1 has normally been a big one. In the 1964-65 season, moving up as champions, the Town, fuelled by adrenalin, won their first three games and drew the fourth but still went down again in the spring. In 1968-69, having won the then unregionalised lower division without losing a match, they still found the jump a large one, which they did again in 2001-02 after winning Division 1 (East) by a 20-point margin.The difference in levels was less obvious in 2011-12, when Henley moved up as runners-up and, despite failing to repeat the win in their opening game they had achieved on their three previous promotions, avoided the relegation zone, going down only because of their then inadequate facilities. Nevertheless, the contrast between the standards between the two divisions may have reasserted itself if Wokingham and Emmbrook’s experience is anything to go by. Deserving winners of Division 1 (East) in 2014-15, they finished well behind the rest of the field in the Premier to immediately go down again.
When Henley’s promotion from third position was first announced, it was pointed out that, though the Red Kites’ position was unlikely to be directly affected, some fine tuning might still occur. That has, indeed, happened, with the division finally consisting of 19 teams, rather than the 21 originally expected. North Greenford United, demoted from the Southern League, were finally shunted into the Combined Counties League. Cheltenham Saracens, who were due to be promoted from Division 1 (West), suddenly lost their manager and most of their players and considered dropping down into local football, but ultimately agreed to carry on but still in last season’s division.There are only two teams in the Premier Division that the Red Kites have never met before, one of these curiously being Brimscombe & Thrupp, whom they are due to visit in the F.A. Cup on Saturday week.
The Town will revert to running four teams this season, something that looked very unlikely a few months ago. A reserve side has been restarted and will play in the Hellenic Division 2 (East), which now contains a number of first teams. Wisely, the league has brought the starting date for the second division forward to 13th August.
Despite failing to finish their fixtures last year, the youth team will again play in the Allied Counties Youth League but have been moved to the Central Division, in which their first fixture will be on 25th August. The Sunday team, which was close to being wound up, have received a welcome injection of new blood from Henley Y.M.C.A. United and will again play in the Reading Sunday League
Manager Required - 3 July
Henley Town urgently require a Reserve Team Manager for their Hellenic League Division Two East side.
If you are interested please contact the Club Chairman Kim Chapman 07515 892909
Volunteer Website Coordinator -30 June
Henley Town Football Club are looking for a volunteer Website Coordinator/Administrator to look after the club website.
The person will be responsible for publishing news content and keep club information up to date for supporters and others. The job may suite a Retired person or a Student
Anybody interested should email the club secretary on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07712139592
Positive AGM - 8 June
After the excitement of gaining promotion and winning the Reading Senior Cup, a positive mood prevailed at Henley Town Football Club’s annual general meeting on Wednesday of last week, which was the shortest for many years.
The Eric Bailey Memorial Cup, presented to the person voted to have contributed the most to the club in the previous 12 months, went to Tony Kingston, who already had won the cup in 2006 and 2010. Prior to the presentation of the Eric Bailey Cup in 1999, he had also collected its predecessor, the Hookins and Hancock Cup, on three occasions.
Kingston was again voted to the post of secretary as was Kim Chapman to the chairman’s position. Geoffrey Biggs returns to the committee in the role of treasurer, but the office of vice-chairman was left open for the time being. Also elected to the committee were: Lawrence Tindall, Phil Bell, Craig Sumner, Grant Goddard, Ray Emmons, Lee Povey, Stuart Hamblin and Fred Bucknell. John Bailey remains as president.
Although the financial position was satisfactory at present, there would be much additional expense arising from promotion, which involves longer journeys and a considerable increase in matches.
Final Success for Red Kites - 20 May
Henley Town fought back from 3-1 down to beat Binfield 5-3 after extra time in the Reading Invitation Challenge Cup Senior Final at the Madejski Stadium on Thursday evening in front of a large crowd.
The Red Kites goals were scored by Richard Bennett, Sean Moore, Asa Povey, Ben Clark and Liam Tindell.
Red Kites At The Madejski - 17 May
Henley Town appear at the Madejski Stadium, the home of Reading Football Club, for the first time on Thursday, when they meet Binfield in the final of the Reading Senior Cup, kick-off 7 p.m.
Though Henley have played Binfield many times, only one of those games has been in the Reading Senior Cup, and that was in last year’s semi-final when the Moles won 4-0 on the Invesco Perpetual Triangle. In the present season, Binfield visited the Town in September in an Hellenic League Challenge Cup game and won 2-1.
Though the Red Kites have now reached the semi-finals of the Reading Senior Cup three years running, the event (originally known as the Reading Town Cup) has seldom been their happiest of hunting grounds. With the trophy inaugurated as long ago as 1897, it is surprising that the Town have never won it, even allowing for the many seasons in which they have not entered. As if to prove that this is a competition that does not agree with them, on the one occasion they have previously reached the final, in 1978-79, a strong side that had had a wonderful season totally failed to do themselves justice on the day, going down 2-1 at Elm Park to Courage Athletic.
The only time the cup has come to Henley was long ago in the 1921-22 season, when, also at Elm Park, Henley Comrades, the Town’s great rivals in the years following the Great War, beat Reading Comrades by the only goal in the final, scored late in the game by Harold Dee. The Red Kites must go all out this week to emulate their old antagonists 94 years on.
Reading Cup Semi-Final - 5 May
Henley Town, who have finished their league fixtures and come third in Division 1 East of the Uhlsport Hellenic League, are next in action on Wednesday night in the Reading Senior Cup.
They meet Westwood United in the semi-final round, the venue is Scours Lane, kick-off time is 7.30 p.m.
This is the third year running in which the Town have reached the penultimate stage of the competition, and on each previous occasion the game was played on the ground of the club drawn first, so it was an unexpected development that a neutral ground would be used this season. The Red Kites may also consider themselves unfortunate that the game comes as much as 18 days after their previous fixture.
Westwood compete in Division 1 of the Thames Valley Premier League, and it might, at first glance, look as though this should be a comfortable assignment for Henley, on the grounds that, having despatched a team from the level above them, they should surely able to beat a side from two steps below them.
This may not be as easy a game as it seems, however. Westwood won Division 1 last season and, denied promotion, have easily retained the trophy in the current term, losing only once in the process.
Westwood have played various Henley Town teams on ten previous occasions, six of the meetings being friendlies. All the four competitive games have been in the Reading Senior Cup. Henley won the first of these, in 2006-07, and the last, which was two seasons ago, but lost the two matches in between. For the most recent clash, the Town, playing away, fielded a side so severely weakened that they mustered only a bare eleven men and no specialist goalkeeper, doing well in the circumstances to get home 3-1.
The Reading Senior Cup has never been Henley’s favourite competition, and, even after reaching the semi-finals three years running, that has not yet changed. Two years ago they lost on penalties at Finchampstead in a match they had been expected to win, while last season they were well beaten 4-0 at home to Binfield. The second semi-final sees two Premier Division sides, Binfield and Highmoor Ibis, pitted against each other on Saturday week (May 14th), and the final will be played at the Madejski Stadium on Thursday May 19.
Failure to visit Bicester Town on the originally scheduled date has cost the Town more dearly than expected. Because they had already been fined for defaulting in the Hellenic Supplementary Cup, the penalty for the Bicester game was increased to £500, plus £50 expenses.
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