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  • Writer's pictureRobert Austin

Hype Train Football Club: 2020/21 Season Review

Updated: May 23, 2023

Robert Austin delivering the team talk ahead of the RSSL Final on June 20th 2021. Photography by Gary House.

Welcome aboard the home of Hype Train Football Club. Here, you can read an in-depth review of our second season as a football club, with the team competing in several league and cup competitions, primarily competing in the East Berkshire Football League (EBFL) and the newly-formed Reading Sunday Social League (RSSL). All aboard.

East Berkshire Football League (Division One) Season Review:

The 2020/21 season saw the team promoted to EBFL Division One, despite having only playing 6 games in our debut season in Division Two, with the team still to play more than half their games.

The EBFL decided to opt with smaller divisions to help combat eventual lockdowns in the UK caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, meaning we had a 7-team Division One consisting of; Old Windsor Reserves, Iver Heath, Stoke Poges Saints, Hounslow Wanderers, Hambleden , Townmead and the team here at Hype Train FC.

We opened the campaign with a close-fought 2-0 loss away from home against Iver Heath on 3rd October 2020, before we bounced back a week later with a 1-0 home win over Hambleden FC at Calcot Recreation Ground thanks to our first goal of the season via the right-boot of Phil Newport. We rounded out October with a dramatic 3-2 loss at YouTube rivals, Stoke Poges Saints FC, losing with virtually the last kick of the game.

Lockdown in November 2020 and throughout all of the winter period meant we didn't return to competitive football until April 2021, with the EBFL opting to continue as things were.

Our first game back against was a lengthy trip to Hounslow Wanderers, which ended in a 1-1 - Jack Reddings scored from the penalty spot on his debut for the club. We had to wait until 1st May to play in the league again, completing the double on Hambleden with a 4-0 success away from home. Callum Fox-Spence scored his first competitive goals for the club, whilst Martin King and Sam Paddon added strikes on a good day for the club.

May continued with a 3-0 loss to a strong Old Windsor FC Reserves outfit on May 8th, with our final encounter of the season coming against Townmead on May 29th in a 2-1 loss at home, though the travelling side from West Drayton fielded ineligible players so the result was stricken from the records after they pulled out of the league as a result - cheaters never prosper.

The squad were unable to field a team against Iver Heath for our home encounter in May, whilst we opted not to finish the season with a final game against Old Windsor as there was nothing to play for with both teams.

The season ended with only 5 active teams; Iver Heath (1st), Old Windsor (2nd), Stoke Poges (3rd), Hype Train (4) and Hambleden (5th), with Townmead and Hounslow pulling out of the league.

This means the team played a total of 8 games for the season, with only 6 of them actually counting towards the final table due to Hounslow and Townmead's records being expunged - with the squad scoring 9 goals (only 7 counted), conceding 11 goals (only 8 counted), meaning we had the best defensive record in the division for the season alongside 3 clean sheets.

Thoughts from Player-Manager, Robert Austin:

"From first whistle to last, it really felt like our Saturday season just never got going - I am going to widely apply this to most, if not all, teams in our division too. The campaign was segmented and over the course of the year, each team barely played. We were going a month at a time without a game when the league restarted too, so it was just difficult getting motivated.

We started the season in transition too from our first season - player turnover and getting a settled squad just never happened this season, despite our best efforts. That said, we were put in a very competitive league, with each team capable of beating the other and we had some very good games along the way.

The longer the season crawled to a halt though, the sooner we wanted it to end. Teams pulling out due to Covid, pitch availability, or just poor sportsmanship, really dulled what was supposed to be a tense league.

We're looking to greatly improve our experience on Saturday's next season, and to be put in a league that can cater for our on-going development, so watch this space as we look to bounce back after a year of big teething pains."

Reading Sunday Social League (RSSL):

Our Sunday League debut was in the league of our own design and creation, competing in 7 RSSL league games across April, May and June 2021. The top two teams would progress to a final for the beautiful RSSL trophy!

April began with a 2-1 loss against eventual winners, Woodley Saints, with Callum Parr-Jones netting the only goal, an absolutely worldie, in an open game at the Berks County Sports Centre. Bouncing back quickly, on April 18th the team responded with a crucial 4-1 win over Southbank at the Ibis Club - Stefan Sukara scored a sublime low free-kick, before Graham High lobbed the Southbank keeper on his debut before half-time. Joe Sawyer then scored his first goal for the club, before South Korean, Tae Eom, finished the rout.

April finished with an entertaining 1-1 draw against Rose & Thistle FC, with Jack Reddings scoring a free-kick past HTFC outfield player, Chris Marshall, who played in goal for Rose on the occasion.

May saw the team needing to win all 4 of their remaining games, with decisive wins arriving throughout the month. First on May 9th we put New England to the sword in a 5-0 victory at Linear Park, with every goal coming in the second-half - a brace of penalties from Sam Bolwell as well as strikes from Stefan Sukara, Phil Newport and a first goal for Walid Zaky, sealed another fine win.

May 16th saw another big win, with the team putting 7 goals past Tilehurst Titans at the Ibis Club, this time braces from Phil Newport and Stefan Sukara, were joined by goals from Clayton Holloway, Jon Watkins, and Callum Fox-Spence on his birthday. May was then rounded out with a 3-0 win over Thames Valley Railway at Calcot Recreation Ground, hosted at out ground due to a waterlogged pitch at the Ibis. A treble from Jon Watkins, only the second player in club history to manage a hat-trick, saw us over the line.

June arrived with the team needing to beat Caversham United at the Ibis Club in order to progress to the final. On 13 points from 6 matches, only a win would have done as Southbank put away Titans 6-2 on the opposite pitch, with our game against training neighbours Caversham living up to the billing in a 5-3 classic.

Both teams traded goals, with Phil Newport forcing the issue with a brace, though we were pegged back twice, before a Sam Bolwell penalty put the team in charge at half-time. Callum Fox-Spence came off the bench to put his stamp on the game with a wicked strike for the team's 4th goal, though again we were pegged back to 4-3 almost instantly. Then in the dying seconds, Caversham brought their keeper up for a last-ditch corner, though we were able to clear the ball and allowed Leon Mannion to tap home into an empty net to seal our passage into the final.

The Final against Woodley on June 20th, our first final appearance as a club, ended in a tense 1-0 loss, though we missed crucial chances, including a penalty kick from Sam Bolwell in the dying minutes of the game, with the squad finishing as runners-up against a good Woodley outfit that remained unbeaten in the RSSL.

Thoughts from Player-Manager, Robert Austin:

"The best thing we have done as a football club to date is to form the RSSL alongside Caversham United. The 8-team league was our breakthrough into Sunday League football, with each team able to play football consistently during April, May, and June, in a unique league built in unique circumstances due to the Reading & District Sunday League opting not to continue.

From a team perspective, we really grew in belief during the competition that we could mount a serious challenge for some silverware. Our loss to Woodley on opening day set the standard for where we needed to be in order to compete, something we corrected almost instantly as we got positive results against Southbank and Rose & Thistle immediately after.

The Final between my Hype Train FC and Woodley Saints was worthy of the showpiece event. The match was played to a high standard, with two committed, determined teams that played out all the nervous tropes of a nervy cup final. My team may have been beaten on the day, though we have nothing to be ashamed about - the game could have swung either way and we missed some criminal chances.

Well done to Ian Pulfer and everyone at Woodley for a first trophy. It was great seeing the beautiful trophy finding a worthy home and I wish them nothing but the best until we meet them down the line!

The Reading Sunday Social League has been a huge success. Every game was played, and more to the point played in the right competitive spirit. We only had one referee fail to turn up to a game, whilst the teams that we got on board have been nothing but helpful and supportive - it's not often in grassroots football you find a complete constitution that is happy, but luckily we found that with everyone involved.

We have been able to form and grow a great relationship with sponsors, Lens Digital, as well as with a lot of people involved in grassroots football in the area, and the feedback has been nothing but glowing. Andrew Spiers has already expressed his desire to back the league again and we already have some early steps in motion to expand and grow the competition in future events.

Personally, I'm keen to continue to grow and develop grassroots football in any way I can, so this will be the first of many RSSL events to bookmark in your calendar."

HTFC finished second in the RSSL and lost 1-0 to Woodley Saints in the Final on 20th June 2021.

Hype Train FC - 2020/21 Pre-Season Schedule:

1) Sat 01/08/2020 - Pre-Season: Townmead FC 3-0 Hype Train FC

2) Sat 15/08/2020 - Pre-Season: Slough Heating Laurencians 'A' 0-1 Hype Train FC

3) Sat 22/08/2020 - Pre-Season: St Peters Iver FC 2-0 Hype Train FC

4) Sat 29/08/2020 - Pre-Season: Iver Heath FC 4-3 Hype Train FC

5) Sat 05/09/2020 - Pre-Season: Old Windsor FC Reserves 3-1 Hype Train FC

6) Sat 12/09/2020 - Pre-Season: Stoke Poges Saints FC Reserves 0-0 Hype Train FC

7) Sat 19/09/2020 - Pre-Season: Harchester Hawks FC 1-3 Hype Train FC

8) Sat 26/09/2020 - Pre-Season: Hype Train FC 2-1 Burghfield FC Reserves

Hype Train FC - 2020/21 Season Schedule:

1) Sat 03/10/2020 - EBFL Division One: Iver Heath FC 2-0 Hype Train FC

2) Sat 10/10/2020 - EBFL Division One: Hype Train FC 1-0 Hambleden FC

3) Sat 17/10/2020 - EBFL Division One: Stoke Poges Saints FC 3-2 Hype Train FC

4) Sat 24/10/2020 - Legea Ultimate XI Cup (Group) : Wokingham & Embrook FC Development 0-1 Hype Train FC

5) Sat 31/10/2020 - Maidenhead Norfolkian Cup (R1): Hype Train FC 1-3 Phoenix Old Boys 4th

A government lockdown in the UK at the end of October 2020 ended competitive grassroots football until April 2021.

Hype Train FC - 2020/21 Mid-Season Friendly Schedule:

1) Sat 05/12/2020 - Mid-Season: Barton Rovers 3-3 Hype Train FC

2) Sat 12/12/2020 - Mid-Season: Wokingham & Embrook FC Development 3-0 Hype Train FC

Hype Train FC - 2020/21 Season Schedule (Continued):

6) Sat 10/04/2021 - EBFL Division One: Hounslow Wanderers 1-1 Hype Train FC

7) Sun 11/04/2021 - RSSL (Game 1): Woodley Saints FC 2-1 Hype Train FC

8) Sun 18/04/2021 - RSSL (Game 2): Hype Train FC 4-1 Southbank FC

9) Sat 24/04/2021 - EBFL Division One: Hype Train FC 0-0 Stoke Poges Saints FC

10) Sun 25/04/2021 - RSSL (Game 3): Hype Train FC 1-1 Rose & Thistle FC

11) Sat 01/05/2021 - EBFL Division One: Hambleden FC 0-4 Hype Train FC

12) Sat 08/05/2021 - EBFL Division One: Old Windsor FC Reserves 3-0 Hype Train FC

13) Sun 09/05/2021 - RSSL (Game 4): New England FC 0-5 Hype Train FC

14) Sun 16/05/2021 - RSSL (Game 5): Tilehurst Titans 2-7 Hype Train FC

15) Sun 23/05/2021 - RSSL (Game 6): Hype Train FC 3-0 Thames Valley Railway FC

16) Sat 29/05/2021 - EBFL Division One: Hype Train FC 1-2 Townmead FC*

17) Sun 06/06/2021 - RSSL (Game 7): Caversham United 3-5 Hype Train FC

18) Sun 20/06/2021 - RSSL (Final): Woodley Saints FC 1-0 Hype Train FC

19) Sat 03/07/2021 - Stewards Cup (2021): Hambleden FC 5-3 Hype Train FC

*Townmead fielded ineligible players, with the result reversed

The team's 19th and final game of the season was at Hambleden on 3rd July 2021 in the first-ever annual Stewards Cup encounter.

Hype Train FC - 2020/21 Season Statistics:

Friendly Matched Played: 10

Competitive Matches Played: 19

Total Matches Played: 29

Win/Draw/Loss Record: 9 W / 3 D / 7 L

Goals Scored: 40

Goals Conceded: 29

Clean Sheets: 6

Top Scorer: Phil Newport (9 goals)

Most Assists: Phil Newport (9 assists)

Most Clean Sheets: Robert Austin & Rod Stevens (6 clean sheets)

Top Goal Scorers:

Phil Newport (9)

Sam Bolwell (6)

Jon Watkins (5)

Stefan Sukara (4)

Callum Fox-Spence (4)

Martin King (2)

Jack Reddings (2)

Sam Paddon (1)

Callum Parr-Jones (1)

Graham High (1)

Joe Sawyer (1)

Tae Eom (1)

Walid Zaky (1)

Clayton Holloway (1)

Leon Mannion (1)

Most Assists:

Phil Newport (9)

Rod Stevens (7)

Sam Bolwell (5)

Stefan Sukara (4)

Callum Fox-Spence (3)

Callum Parr-Jones (2)

Walid Zaky (2)

Sammy Seville (1)

Martin King (1)

Jon Watkins (1)

Sam Paddon (1)

Owners, Robert Austin (middle) and Sam Austin (right) accept the RSSL Runners-Up award from Andew Spiers of Lens Digital.

Other Club Statistics - 2020/21 Season:

- There were only 4 players to play in each of the club's 28 matches for the season; Phil Newport, Callum Fox-Spence, Rod Stevens, and Robert Austin. Newport (1) & Fox-Spence (1) were only on the bench on one occasion each during the campaign.

- The Reading Sunday Social League final against Woodley Saints on June 20th 2021 was the club's first-ever appearance in a final.

- The club's final match of the season, the 1-0 loss to Woodley Saints in the RSSL Final was the club's 34th competitive outing as a club.

- Our 50th outing as a club, including both friendly and competitive games, was the team's 5-3 victory over Caversham United in the RSSL on 6th June 2021.

- Robert Austin, the Club's Player-Manager, is the only player to feature in all 34 competitive games for the club and has played all 3060 available minutes of action. In that time, Austin has managed 2 assists and 10 clean sheets.

- The only red card to be issued to the team was to Club Chairman, Sam Austin, after the full-time whistle on October 3rd 2020 against Iver Heath FC in EBFL Division One.

- The club has yet to receive a red card during a game, with both instances the club seeing red both happening in alteractions after the full-time whistle.

- The team didn't concede 4 goals in a single match during their 18 competitive games, with the team conceding 4+ goals twice last season (2019/20).

- After two campaigns, Leon Mannion is the club's overall top scorer, netting 15 times in 12 appearances for the club.

- After the two campaigns, Rod Stevens has the most assists of any player in the club, providing 11 assists in 32 games.

- Phil Newport managed to score more goals (8) and provides the most assists (8), the most of any player this season.

- 3 players scored on their debuts for the club this season; Jack Reddings scored from the penalty spot against Hounslow, whilst Graham High and Tae Eom both scored on their debuts against Southbank in the RSSL.

- We scored the most goals in the Reading Sunday Social League, netting 26 goals in 8 matches, with 13 different players scoring goals - the most scorers from any of the 8 clubs.

- 4 players scored hat-tricks in the RSSL; Jack Tapscott (Caversham) vs.Thames (Week 3), Jon Watkins (Hype Train) vs. Thames (Week 6), Jordan Sawyer (Woodley) vs. New England (Week 7), and Will Frank (Southbank) vs. Tilehurst Titants (Week 7) - with Watkins scoring scoring the club's only treble last season.

- Watkins' treble against Thames Valley means he was also only the second player to bag a hat-trick, with Leon Mannion scoring a brace of hat-tricks in our debut season (2019/20).

Photo Gallery - 2020/21 Team Photos:

Want to know more about The Hype Train?

The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015, specialising in Fantasy sports reporting, starting with Fantasy Premier League (FPL), before expanding to MLS Fantasy coverage in 2018.

We pride ourselves in providing beautiful graphics, statistics, in-depth analytical reporting and free weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb rankings tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review games, live sport, and professional wrestling.

In 2019, Hype Train Football Club was formed, becoming the first Fantasy Football website to take to the field. HTFC is a socially active team across social and web channels, providing regular match highlights, match reports, comprehensive player statistics and unique player profiles.

The Hype Train were nominated and shortlisted for the 'Best Football Blog' in 2016 by the Football Bloggers Association at their annual Football Blogging Awards (The FBA's), and were again shortlisted as a finalist in 2019 in the 'Best Fantasy Football Blog' category.

You can follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook, follow Hype Train FC on Instagram, subscribe to our YouTube channel for exclusive content, or visit our website here at

All aboard.

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