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  • Writer's pictureRob Stevens

Motivation was the key as Stoke Poges storm to the Division One title with 17 straight wins

PICTURE: Stoke Poges celebrate with the East Berkshire League Division One trophy after a 2-1 win against FC Baylis United at the 1878 Stadium in Burnham, their 18th straight win in the league this season. PHOTO: Gary House.

Stoke Poges manager Scott Manton declared his team has never been more motivated than when winning the East Berkshire Football League Division One title this season.

The crowning moment is the culmination of three years of hard work for Manton and the Club, building a young and talented squad, and showing real togetherness despite relegation from the Premier Division in the previous campaign.

Stoke won the title with an incredible perfect-winning record, notching up a 17th straight success when thrashing Reading Tigers 7-1 to be crowned champions 10 days ago.

The Poges lifted the league silverware following a 2-1 win against FC Baylis United, the 2023 Presidents Cup winners, to make it 18-0 in a Showcase Match at the 1878 Stadium in Burnham last week.

Sam Manton is the second highest-scorer in Division One this season and took his impressive tally to 29 goals in 24 appearances with a double in the victory over Baylis.

Stoke eventually lost their perfect-winning record when suffering a 4-1 defeat at second-placed Sandhurst Town on Saturday. Manton offering some response to Sandhurst goals from Jamie Barratt (x2) and Callum Williams. But, that will not dampen their celebrations this summer.

PHOTO: Stoke Poges begin their title-winning celebrations at the 1878 Stadium in Burnham.

Manton said: “It feels great. We’ve spoken about it a lot over these past few weeks. We’ve been driving towards this for three years now. We started as a Reserve team just to have a little bit of fun, and went through a tough season last year being relegated from the Premier Division.

“We all came back this season well motivated to go and achieve something and our record says everything really. We’ve never been more motivated to win anything. We have won the League, which is a start, and we now have a big Cup Final to prepare for now.

“This is two parts to it [the success] really. This first part is it has happened over three years, from having two or three players only, to build that into a successful and winning squad, which I’m really proud of. And the majority of those lads are still here now to enjoy this success.

VIDEO: Stoke Poges manager, Scott Manton, left, and assistant manager, Bradlee Greenwood, right, react to being crowned East Berkshire Football League Division One champions this season.

“The second part is that relegation could ruin a lot of teams but not us. We actually kept everyone, improved the squad with one or two players, and have gone on to do what we knew we could at the start to this year which is to win the league and get back into the Premier Division.

“Going down last season has probably been one of the best things to have happened to us because we went into the Premier Division not really knowing what to expect. We learnt a few hard lessons but it has made us a better team now, and probably made us a better and more prepared team going up next season. We will have in idea of what to expect and what level we need to be at in order to compete.”

The Stoke boss identified wins against Baylis (4-5 in November) and nearest-pursuers Sandhurst (1-0 in April) as key moments in the race for the title.

PICTURE: Stoke Poges players are all smiles at the final whistle, following a 2-1 win against FC Baylis United.

Manton explained: “The two standout moments for me was the reverse fixture against Baylis, we narrowly won that 5-4 in a game very similar to midweek. A game between two good teams, a little bit scrappy at times but, we managed to get that very important winner at the end.

“The second one, probably our biggest result of the season, was the 1-0 win against Sandhurst. That was such a tight game between two quality teams and we showed great character to not only be leading in the game but to hold onto it.

“We knew that Baylis were going to be good (in midweek) because the last time we played them over at there place they gave us a little bit of a scare. They have just won the Presidents Cup so we knew that they were going to be good, they played against a good Old Windsor team as well.

“We also feel that, when teams come to play us, they want to be the first team to beat us but, we prepared for that energy that Baylis showed at the start of the game. To their credit, I thought Baylis were a really good team. It was two really good teams competing and luckily we came out on top.”

Stoke Poges’ are now in pursuit of a league and cup double and take on Reading YMCA Rapids in the Maidenhead Norfolkian Junior Cup Final at the 1878 Stadium in Burnham this Wednesday (7.30pm).

Manton hinted: “The main thing was to win the league, which we have achieved now. But, the cup final has come at a really good time for us because our motivation now is all about keeping the momentum going and keeping that winning mentality.

“Our drive, at no point this season, was to go 20-0. It was just always to win that game of football and that is still the same now, we just want to win every game of football.

PHOTO: Stoke Poges celebrate scoring one of their two goals in the 2-1 win against FC Baylis United.

“The priority for us was always the league. The conversation we had at the start to the season was about the bread and butter, which is the league and getting back to the Premier Division, which everybody wanted.

“But, we’ve put all our focus and attention into the cup competitions because we were disappointed last year with two cup semi finals [lost both]. We’ve managed to push on this season to reach another semi final and now a final.

“It has never been a distraction, we’ve just managed to keep the momentum going, whether it is in the cup or league and luckily that has resulted in a league trophy and a cup final.”

To enter the East Berkshire Football League ahead of the 2023/24 season, or for further information about the league, or an entry form for the upcoming season, please email the team at


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