Romford boss relishing Essex Senior League start

Justin Bailey in action for Romford against Basildon United in Isthmian League North last season

Justin Bailey in action for Romford against Basildon United in Isthmian League North last season - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo

Romford manager Steve Butterworth is looking forward to the start of the Essex Senior League season on Saturday.

Butterworth took over following the club's relegation from Isthmian North and has carried out a 'complete overhaul' of the squad for 2022-23.

But he believes Boro, who start their campaign at new boys Buckhurst Hill after going unbeaten in pre-season, will be among the frontrunners.

"We've had five games, we didn't lose, so you'd like to think we must be nearly there," he said.

"We started late on purpose, we didn't play many games wheras some are playing seven or eight games.

"Pre-season can be long and dragged out and players get bored and so do I.

"We're happy with how it's gone but we're not getting too carried away. The real test is on Saturday, we'll see if we are where we expect to be.

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"It's been a complete overhaul. The team for Saturday might not have anyone from last season, so it's a really fresh start.

"On paper, with what we've signed and how we've looked, I expect us to be one of the stronger sides in the division.

"But it's hard to judge, we will be able to address more after Saturday."

Buckhurst Hill have joined the division with Halstead Town after finishing runners-up in Thurlow Nunn League Division One South last term.

And Butterworth hopes the experience in Romford's rebuilt side can help them get off to a good start.

He added: "It's a big game for Buckhurst Hill, playing Romford, who have been a step four club for a long time while they have been step six and seven.

"It's a big occasion and we hope we've got enough experience in our side to weather the storm at the start and then our experience and class will come through. That's the plan."

Rival boss George Christou, of Redbridge, claimed the Essex Senior League is as tough as it has ever been - with Romford's landlords Barking have also dropped down from the Isthmian League.

But Butterworth, who won the title as a player with Great Wakering and also managed them, is confident of a positive campaign - after Boro won just three times in 38 league games and used 82 different players last season.

He said: "There's no pressure from the chairman. There's a lot of money in the league but I wouldn't expect us to be far away from the top three or four.

"With a new side, if we're up there at Christmas and doing well we can reassess and have a crack at it."

Romford are due to host Saffron Walden Town in the FA Cup extra preliminary round at Mayesbrook Park on Saturday week (August 6), as Barking have been drawn away to Coggeshall Town, and if successful will bank £1,125 in prize money and host Redbridge or Takeley two weeks later.

They also have a home tie in the FA Vase, against Potton United on August 27, with a home tie against West Essex or Harwich & Parkeston awaiting the winners, and the under-18s visit Braintree Town in the FA Youth Cup the following week.