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New boys Ilford Wanderers will surprise London Three Essex rivals

PUBLISHED: 16:00 30 August 2018

Action from one of Ilford Wanderers games in the Essex Canterbury Jack Premier

Action from one of Ilford Wanderers games in the Essex Canterbury Jack Premier

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In an article from our 'Engage' supplement, key personnel at Ilford Wanderers preview the new London Three Essex season

Ilford Wanderers are ready for a step into the unknown when they get their London Three Essex term underway, but feel they will cause some surprises this season.

During the 2017/18 campaign, Wanderers produced several excellent displays to finish in second place behind the Kings Cross Steelers in the Essex Canterbury Jack Premier.

It was enough to earn the club promotion and although they didn’t claim league title success last time out, they are in a bullish mood ahead of the new season which begins on September 8.

Darren Donovan, Ilford’s chairman, said: “Last year we proved to ourselves the level we are capable of playing at.

“We only lost two games, one to eventual champions Steelers and away to a pumped up Mersea Island on the final day.

“Getting promoted and being the only team to defeat Steelers in winning the Essex President’s Shield really gave us a sense of achievement.

“We are looking to build on this success with a new head coach and after a hard pre-season, I think some people will be surprised to see the new Wanderers.”

Ilford will be playing with some massive clubs in the London Three Essex league, but captain Jason Taylor says they will relish the chance to be underdogs.

Barking, previously a side from the National League, Chelmsford, Epping Upper Clapton and Old Cooperians are just some of the teams in this division who have been much higher up.

Wanderers captain Taylor said: “This year we will be up against big clubs with big histories, but that seems to be when we produce our best rugby – when we play as the underdog.

“We have a great blend of hard-nosed experience and youthful potential and we have a greater strength in depth which is critical now.”

Last season will live long in the memory for Wanderers, but they are keen to make it the start of a special journey.

Director of rugby Chris Smith added: “Although the 2017/18 campaign was a good year by any standards, we have also taken on board the areas where we weren’t at our best. We probably only hit top form in one or two games, which makes this season all the more exciting.”

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