Here we go again. In just 48 hours time, the curtain goes up on another Non-League season and while our fans will be hoping for a much improved campaign, most of our managers will be looking at their new signings and tactics and praying for success.
The Evo-Stik League don’t kick off for another week, leaving Sheffield FC and Stocksbridge Park waiting for their big day to arrive.
So all eyes will be on the Baris North Counties East League, particularly the First Division, where we have five teams plus a handful of fringe clubs as well.
While the main action starts on Saturday, most fans will be eyeing the big derby clash at Olivers Mount on Sunday where I will be amongst a big crowd to watch title favourites Handsworth face relegated Hallam.
Handsworth’s manager Rus Eagle, with new signings Cusworth, Ward and Outram all fit to start, feels this could be their season. “We’re confident of winning promotion particularly if we can improve our away form,” he said.
Eagle’s men follow this game with a Presidents Cup first round home tie against AFC Emley.
Hallam could not have had a harder start but with a new skipper in Chris Dickman from Selby Town and other new signings, Thompson and Alder-Heaver, manager Julian Watts is excited about their campaign. He said: “It’s important that we bounce straight back to the Premier Division and do so in style. This game promises to be a good pointer.” On Tuesday they travel for the second of nine successive away games, when they visit Teversal in the League Cup first round.
Another relegated club Dinnington Town, get underway at Phoenix Park on Saturday against a strong Pontefract Colliery side. A lack of finances means they will be giving their youngsters a chance to show their worth but manager Steve Toyne is confident of having a good season. I will be at Dinnington next Tuesday to see them take on a much-troubled Brodsworth Welfare in the Sword Edge Trophy first round.
Newcomers Worksop Parramore, promoted from the Central Midlands League, kick off at Sandy Lane in what should be a ‘cracker’ against another highly-fancied club AFC Emley. Manager Peter Whitehead has signed four promising players in Preece and Asquith from Hallam, Lowe (Stocksbridge) and Thompson (Belper Town).
In the Premier Division two of the title favourites clash at the seaside, when Parkgate visit Scarborough Athletic. It’s a hard start for Doug Shelley’s players but I feel with Laight, from Belper, and Baxby, from Formby, in their squad they can get their season off to a flier. They then face another tough test next Wednesday when they visit Winterton Rangers in the Presidents Cup first round.
Maltby Main also face a stern opening test when joint promotion favourites Bridlington Town visit Muglet Lane. Manager Stevie Smith is looking to improve on last season’s mid-table finish but I feel it may take a while for them to settle down.
Most people, including myself, will be looking to see how newly-promoted Staveley fair in the top division after their record-breaking season last time around. Manager Billy Fox has brought in Duffy, Foster, Smith, Barraclough and Chapple to complement an already strong squad and the signs are they will find a top eight position but we will know more after Saturday’s opener at Brighouse Town and I’ll be there. They host Thackley in the Presidents Cup first round next Tuesday.