Where are they now?

Team of the Season 2017/18

Last season I put together a “Best XI plus Subs” from my first full season watching nonleague football, with simple criteria.  It wasn’t based on performances over the season, nor was it based on the league the players were in – it was simply a case of who put in the best performances in matches I watched.

As we sit here now, almost a full season on, I felt it’d be worth looking at where those players are now…

GK:  Tom McHale
Then – Truro City – Vanarama National League South
Now – Weymouth (on loan) – Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division South

Having failed to agree a new contract, England C ‘keeper McHale elected to move closer to his family roots in the summer, and departed for Scottish League Two outfit Elgin City.  However, after only two league appearances, McHale was loaned to Weymouth in the Evo Stik Southern Premier League South in January.  A regular between the sticks since arriving on the Dorset coast, his temporary club are well positioned to win the league, with only five matches remaining, they sit five points clear of Taunton Town in first place.

DR:  Peter Kioso
Then – Dunstable Town – Evo-Stik South Premier League
Now – Hartlepool United – Vanarama National League

A player I tipped for greater things than relegation to Step Four, Kioso didn’t stick around long, and moved to National League Hartlepool United in the summer as then-boss Matthew Bates shaped his squad.  The Congolese right back has become a fan favourite quickly, due to his all-action style down the right, and has been one of the mainstays for Hartlepool this season.  Deemed likely to have his contract extended, Kioso’s move to Step One has been an unqualified success.

DC:  David Stephens
Then – Boreham Wood – Vanarama National League
Now – Boreham Wood – Vanarama National League

Club captain at the Wood, it was unlikely that Stephens would leave, and he hasn’t.  Astonishingly still only 27, he has become synonymous with Luke Garrard’s side since joining in 2015, and is also a coach in the successful PASE Academy.  As the on-field leader, Stephens may well be disappointed with the club’s league position (19th, and probably just about safe) when compared to the Play Off Final exploits of 2017/18, but for a club who lost the talent they did over the summer, simply remaining in the division must be considered a good outcome.

DC:  Stefan Galinski ©
Then – Grantham Town – Evo-Stik Premier Division
Now – Basford United – Evo-Stik Premier Division

Both Grantham and my skipper last season (I can guess which one he’s more pleased with), Galinski led his Gingerbreads to the Play Off final, where they were defeated by Ashton United, Galinski was headhunted to skipper Evo Stik Premier rivals Hednesford Town.  After signing a year’s deal, Galinski’s travel from his Lincolnshire base to Staffordshire became too much, and he cancelled the contract in November and has wound up at *checks Google Maps* Nottingham-based Basford United.  Newly promoted Basford have had a solid season at Step Three, sitting in 8th place with seven to play, and a shot at the Play Offs still just within reach.

DL:  Scott Barrow
Then – Gateshead – Vanarama National League
Now – Gateshead – Vanarama National League

One of the few Gateshead stalwarts to stick around as the Heed suffered a summer of turbulence, first Steve Watson, and then Ben Clark have continued to pull marvellous performances out of the marauding full back.  Confounding all expectations, Gateshead lie 9th in the division, all the while Joseph Cala continues to pull the club apart at the seams.  Having almost been sold against his will, Barrow continues like a shining beacon for the Heed fans, and one hopes that wherever the club ends up, Barrow will be there long after Cala is eventually forced out.

MR:  Tom Bolarinwa
Then – Sutton United – Vanarama National League
Now – Sutton United – Vanarama National League

Still at Sutton United, Moses Odubajo’s big brother has fallen out of favour to a degree this season, with the likes of Harry Beautyman and latterly Roarie Deacon and James Dobson being preferred.  He has still racked up 17 appearances in the league, though 15 of those have come from the bench, and with only one goal, this will go down as an under-performing season for the livewire winger – as well as for Sutton United, who have picked up only 6 points from their last available 30.

MC:  Craig Eastmond
Then – Sutton United – Vanarama National League
Now – Sutton United – Vanarama National League

Also still at the Us, Eastmond has continued to be essential to Sutton’s first eleven, starting all 35 league matches for which he has been available.  Six league goals is an impressive return for the holding midfielder, who has clearly been called further forwards at times this season.  It remains a surprise to me that there have been no Football League clubs either willing to take a chance on Eastmond, or prise him away from Paul Doswell, but at 28 years old, he’s right at his peak, and remains for my money the best deep-lying midfielder in non-league football.

MC:  Shane Krac
Then – Plymouth Parkway – Carlsberg South West Peninsula League Premier Division
Now – Plymouth Parkway – Toolstation Western League Premier Division

Krac’s season got off to a pretty inauspicious start, when he was convicted of breaking an opponent’s jaw in a summer five-a-side match.  Despite that bout of poor behaviour, Krac has continued to be an influential presence in the Parkway midfield as they have taken to Step Five football like ducks to water.  Sitting 2nd in the division behind (but joint on points with) a strong Willand Rovers side, Krac has been central to the team’s form, racking up 27 appearances and 11 goals from central midfield.  If Parkway are to win promotion, keeping him fit – and unsuspended – for the run in will be crucial.

ML:  Kyjuon Marsh-Brown
Then – Whitehawk – Vanarama National League South
Now – Whitehawk – Bostik Isthmian League Premier Division

Still at Whitehawk, but now playing a division lower, former manager Steve King also took Marsh-Brown on loan to his new side Welling United for a month in October.  Only three league goals in the Bostik Isthmian League Premier is a poor return for a player of his quality, but with the Hawks struggling to perform and in the relegation zone, it perhaps isn’t the most conducive environment for a dribbling winger.  28 appearances this season have brought the Chiswick-born youngster to 56 Whitehawk matches in total, and I wouldn’t bet against a summer move, especially if the Brighton side do succumb to relegation to Step Four.

ST:  Bruno Andrade
Then – Boreham Wood – Vanarama National League
Now – Lincoln City – EFL League Two

After an exceptional season with the Wood, culminating in a Wembley Play Off Final appearance, it was no surprise when the Cowley brothers took him to Lincoln City on a two-year deal.  Often played on the wing, with the bullish John Akinde up front, Andrade has acted as more of a foil this season, bagging nine goals as the Imps have stormed to an eight-point cushion at the top of the league.  Second top scorer for Lincoln, it has been a successful move for Andrade as he has made 32 league appearances so far.  The Portuguese forward be hoping to follow the examples of Fejiri Okenabirhie and Jamal Lowe by taking this form up to EFL League One next season.

ST:  Jason Prior
Then – Havant & Waterlooville – Vanarama National League South
Now – Dorking Wanderers – Bostik Isthmian League Premier Division

Last season he was brilliant in a title-winning side.  This season, he’s been brilliant in a (likely) title-winning side.  Having stated his intention to leave Havant following the birth of his child and an inability to commit to nationwide travel, eyebrows were raised when Prior stepped down a division to Dorking Wanderers.  They shouldn’t have been.  Marc White’s side are upwardly mobile, and with Prior scoring 17 alongside the likes of Elliott Buchanan (15), James McShane and Tom Richards (9 each), Dorking have lived up to expectations of a title challenge and could win the league this weekend at home to Worthing.  It’s their second season in the division, Prior is joint third in the goalscorers charts, and all is looking rosy at Dorking’s new Meadowbank home.

Sub 1:  Lewis Boughton
Then – Arundel – Southern Combination Football League Premier Division
Now – Alton – Sydenhams Wessex League Division One

After making a summer appearance for a Portsmouth XI against Moneyfields, young stopper Boughton has spent the season training with Pompey, whilst also turning out for Alton in the Sydenhams Wessex League Division One, the Step Six league for Hampshire, Dorset and adjoining counties.  Alton are currently 16th in the league, and with Totton & Eling looking dead and buried, they’re unlikely to have much to play for as the season winds to a conclusion.

Sub 2:  Tarik Moore-Azille
Then – St Albans City – Vanarama National League South
Now – Oxford City – Vanarama National League South

Moore-Azille started the season still wearing the yellow of St Albans City, but as Ian Allinson tinkered with his squad, found himself released at the end of August, before moving to Hungerford Town.  In January, his performances at Hungerford earned him a move to Oxford City, who he has helped to a safe mid-table league position.  Having flitted around the division over the last eighteen months, it would be good to see him stake a real claim at Oxford, and his power and positional sense will be a real asset to Mark Jones’ side if he can.

Sub 3:  Amos Nasha
Then – Concord Rangers – Vanarama National League South
Now – East Thurrock United – Vanarama National League South

Having made 54 appearances across two seasons at the Aspect Arena, Nasha departed over the summer as new manager Sammy Moore rang the changes at Concord Rangers.  Hopping over the Dartford Bridge, Nasha wound up at Chelmsford City, playing 17 times for the perennial challengers, before moving on to East Thurrock United in February.  With his new side in 21st, Nasha and his teammates face a real challenge to extricate themselves from the prospect of Step Three football next season.

Sub 4:  Flo Bojaj
Then – Walton & Hersham – Cherry Red Combined Counties League Premier Division
Now – Etar – Bulgarian First Professional Football League

By the time this team of the season was produced in May, Bojaj had already departed non-league, and indeed the UK, for Pirin Blagoevgrad of Bulgaria.  After 14 games and five goals in a relegation season, he was off again, remaining in the top flight, with SFC Etar Veliko Tarnovo (Etar to you and I).  The 22 year old Kosovar Albanian has been a regular starter for Etar, playing 25 times and scoring five goals as his side finished 7th, won the Relegation Play Offs, and will now play again for a possible spot in European competition next season.  Yes, Bulgarian football is as baffling as it sounds.

Sub 5:  Joe Cheeseman
Then – Worcester Park – Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Division One
Now – Banstead Athletic – Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Premier

Having had a fine season for the dominant Worcester Park side who finished 2017-18 as champions, Cheeseman moved up a league to try his hand in the Combined Counties Premier League with Banstead Athletic.  Having again motored comfortably into double figures for the season, Cheeseman’s new employers have had a solid season, sitting 5th, a significant improvement on last season’s 19th finish.  19 goals in all competitions is a fine return at a higher level, especially when you consider he squeezed an eight game suspension in there as well…

Manager:  Gary Taylor
Then – Worcester Park – Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Division One
Now – Unattached

After leading Worcester Park to an exceptional league season, winning the title at a canter, only to be relegated from the Combined Counties League Division One on ground grading issues, Gary saw the majority of the side depart.  With the season coming to an end, he took up the challenge of rebuilding the once mighty Walton & Hersham.  A dismal start to the season saw Gary last only three months, being sacked in August with the Swans mired in the relegation fight.  Things haven’t improved for the side since, with the Sham dead last, and favourites to be relegated to Step Six.  At the time of writing, Gary Taylor is currently without a club.

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