Opening League fixtures released!
The first tranche of fixtures for the 2019/20 Arthurian League season have been released!
And the three OHAFC Saturday sides have been handed a variety of potentially tricky games in September, with the 1st & 3rd XIs getting their campaigns underway on Saturday 14th, the 2s following a week later.
The 1st XI
Much interest will, of course, focus on the newly-promoted 1st XI, who return to the Premier League for the first time in three seasons and under the new captaincy of goalkeeper Fraser McGuinness. The 1s begin their season with a home game against the Old Bradfieldians, themselves promoted from Division One a couple of seasons ago. Bradfield finished eighth in the division last season, with just four points separating the bottom seven sides in the table. The two teams last met in Division One in 2017 with Bradfield enjoying a League double over the OHAFC, winning 5-3 at home and 2-1 on the Hill.
The following week the Blues travel to south London to face the Old Alleynians at a new venue: Selhurst Sports Arena - a 3G pitch close to Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park stadium. The two sides know each other very well indeed, having played in both League and Cup encounters in the past couple of seasons. In 2017/18, Alleynians came through a titanic Arthur Dunn Cup tie following a 4-3 replay win at Dulwich College. Last season in Division One it was honours even, both sides winning their home games on artificial surfaces, Alleynians 5-1 in Rotherhithe, the Blues 3-1 on the Harrow School astroturf. A recent pre-season friendly saw Alleynians once more triumph in southeast London, a narrow 3-2 win following another closely-fought encounter.
And the 1s end September with a return to the Hill for the visit of the Old Foresters, a classic fixture from seasons gone by. Forest finished seventh in the Premier Division last season, a disappointing performance given they began the season as reigning champions. The two teams have played 14 League fixtures over the past decade, all in the Premier Division, with Forest currently enjoying an 8-5 lead in wins. 2017 saw narrow wins for both sides in their respective home games.
The 2nd XI
The 2s have been handed possibly the toughest start to the season of the three OHAFC sides with two long away trips to north London to face Forest 2s on the 21st and the Old Aldenhamians on the 28th.
Division Two fixtures don't come much tougher than a trip around the north circular to face the Old Foresters 2s in Fairlop Oak. A small, uneven pitch and physically strong Forest side ensure no team enjoys an easy ride, although recent meetings between the two teams have seen both sides in the ascendency. Although the OHAFC have lost on their two previous trips to Forest, both games have been close encounters, the visitors' defending at set-pieces costing them dearly on both occasions.
Meanwhile, Aldenham endured a torrid campaign in Division One last season, earning just five points from their 18 League fixtures. With a shortage of players hindering efforts, the Aldenham 2s have now disbanded to leave the 1s as the sole Aldenham side. 2016/17 saw the OHAFC face the now-defunct Aldenham 2nd XI in Division Three, Gbeminiyi Soyinka scoring five of Harrow's eight goals across the two fixtures. The second fixture of the new season promises to provide a far sterner test for the Blues.
The 2s then enjoy a first home game against newly-promoted Sennockians on October 5th. The two sides met in pre-season back in August, the OHAFC emerging with a narrow win from an entertaining encounter.
The 3rd XI
The 3s follow the same pattern of fixtures as the 1s, with home games to start the season and end the month either side of an away trip in between.
Opening day sees the Old Salopians 2s visit the Hill. Salopians suffered relegation from Division Three last season, garnering four wins and a draw from their sixteen games, although points deductions saw their total reduced before the end of the season. The two sides have never met in the League although they did face each other in the Junior League Cup last season, Harrow enjoying a relatively comfortable 6-2 win on the Kings House astroturf in Chiswick in round two.
The following weekend the Blues travel north to face the Old Bancroftians - a repeat of the two sides' opening fixture last season. On that occasion a Charlie Bick goal in the second half earned the visitors a 1-1 draw, Harrow winning the return 4-0 in early April. The tricky pitch at Bancroftians Sports Club always ensures a tough test and this promises to be no different against the side that finished sixth in Division Four last season.
The 3s' last fixture in September sees them host Old Brentwoods 2s, who finished seventh in Division Four last season. Despite the OHAFC finishing four places and eighteen points above their Essex rivals, the two fixtures between the teams proved highly competitive: a late Tommy Faber goal earned the Blues a 1-1 draw away from home last October, whilst back on the Hill in early January the visitors looked to be heading for a surprise win until second half goals from Connor Barrett and Alex Smith secured a valuable point.
The fixtures for all three sides until November are now available on the FA Full Time website here.