No promotion for league runners-up Risborough Rangers

Risborough Rangers were so close to the perfect fairytale ending in their first season of Step 5 football.

By Zoe Ashton
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 7:37 am
Risborough Rangers in action at the BEP Stadium on Saturday in front of a record league crowd of 410 against rivals New Salamis Picture by Charlie Carter.
Risborough Rangers in action at the BEP Stadium on Saturday in front of a record league crowd of 410 against rivals New Salamis Picture by Charlie Carter.

But they finish as league runners-up as champions New Salamis won what turned out to be the title-decider 2-0 at the BEP Stadium on Saturday, watched by a record crowd of 410.

Going into their final game of the season Mark Eaton’s side led the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division by two points, but two second-half goals saw their rivals take top spot, ending the campaign a single point ahead.

New Salamis scored on the hour and added another in the 77th minute to become champions.

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So although disappointed, Risborough – whose ground-grading issues mean they won’t be promoted to Step 4 - have to take heart from a fantastic, record-breaking season and try again next year.

A club Twitter statement explains that although the club – celebrating their 50th anniversary year – submitted their planning application last August, permission was only granted in March, but work will be completed by May 31.

It says: "The FA’s decision not to allow the club a short extension of eight weeks, which would have no impact on the start of the new season, is an example of the gap between the FA’s rhetoric about supporting grassroots football and the reality.

"Promoting teams based on their facilities rather than their performances on the pitch undermines the integrity of the game.”

Rangers lost only three times in their 38 games – including a 2-1 defeat by Tring Athletic last week, which had they been victorious would have secured the title ahead of the weekend’s ‘winner takes all’ showdown.

They scored 101 goals and conceded just 23 on their way to 93 points.

Marcus Wyllie was also top scorer in the league with 35 goals, helping Rangers to three SSML Team of the Month awards.

Risborough also enjoyed an incredible record-breaking unbeaten run of 52 games, stretching nearly three years, which was only ended by Ardley United in January, earning them national media recognition.

Rangers’ average home league attendance rose to 157, improving by 57 per cent from last season, with Saturday’s their highest figure for a league game.