This week, while awaiting the results that might help us determine the next Small Club of the Week, I thought I would take some time to take a look back at the previous clubs that we’ve covered and what’s going on in their seasons.
Our first Small Club of the Week was Racing Club Warwick, who gained our notice by being the only club from Tier 10 to defeat a Tier 8 team during the Extra Preliminary Round in qualification for the FA Cup. They have since been eliminated from FA Cup qualification, losing to Tier Seven club Coalville Town during the First Qualifying Round, and have subsequently been eliminated from the FA Vase tournament as well. However, their league season has continued, and they currently find themselves in 8th place in the Midland League, Division One.
The second Small Club of the Week was Exeter City from a much higher tier (Tier 4), who also had a surprising result in a non-league tournament. Exeter City made the cut due to their victory over Championship club Ipswich Town, becoming the only club from League Two to defeat a Championship club in this year’s EFL Cup. Like Racing Club Warwick, Exeter too was eliminated from the tournament in a subsequent round, bowing out in a match against Premier League club Everton in the second round. They do, however, continue to be near the top of League Two, currently sitting in second place in the league table and in position for promotion should they maintain that placement for another 30 weeks or so.
Our next Small Club ended up being our most popular (to date) post on the site, with the fans of Atherstone Town of the Midland League enjoying our piece about their club. They too managed to find some early qualifying round success in the FA Cup, defeating Tier Seven club Bedworth United during the Preliminary Round. They too have since lost in qualifying, falling to Tier Six club Kidderminster Harriers this past weekend, as well as losing in the FA Vase competition the week prior. The Adders are currently in 6th place in the Midland League Division One, two spots ahead the aforementioned Racing Club Warwick.
In continuing our theme of non-league competition success, Red Star Belgrade made the cut as our next “Small” Club, with the caveat that they really aren’t that small, at least in the same way as the previous three clubs. They caught our eye due to their performance during Champions League qualification, making it through more rounds than any other team that qualified for the Group Stage of that tournament. They have since opened up Champions League play with a surprising draw against Napoli, as well as maintained their strong play in the Serbian SuperLiga, currently holding down first place by two points.
With minimal competition happening the following week due to the international break, the next Small Club that we profiled was Bath City, a club from the National League South (Tier Six). They caught our notice due to their community-based ownership structure, and the recent success – relative to prior seasons – since the community ownership went into place. They entered into FA Cup qualification last week, winning against Tier Seven club Banbury United, and also have the FA Trophy to look forward to starting in November. They currently sit in fifth place in the National League South, and would be in the playoffs for promotion if they started today.
Finally, our most recent Small Club was another participant in the Champions League. BSC Young Boys won their first league title in over 30 years. This qualified them for the Champions League, where they entered in the play-off round of qualification. They then defeated Dinamo Zagreb to advance to the Group Stage, and while they didn’t have the start they were probably hoping for – they lost 3-0 to Manchester United at home – they will play on in the tournament. They are also doing well in league play thus far this season, maintaining their first place position – and undefeated season – since I wrote about them last week.
As non-league tournaments progress, both in England and elsewhere, I’m sure that we’ll be able to identify more Small Clubs in subsequent weeks. One match in particular I am watching is the EFL Cup matchup between Premier League team West Ham United and League Two club Macclesfield Town. Should Macclesfield be able to upset the higher tier team – and West Ham has had some issues this season thus far – they would secure their place as next week’s Small Club of the Week. We’ll be watching, and we hope you will be too.
Until next time…