The countdown to the big Non-League kick-off is on

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Believe it or not, we now have only NINE days to go before the North Counties East League season gets underway.

The action doesn’t all start there, however, as the Northern Counties East League has announced a three-year sponsorship deal with national tool and building contractors Toolstation.

“The league is delighted to have secured this sponsorship agreement with a high profile company which recognises the importance of local community involvement,” said league chairman David Morrall.

John Meaden, the Head of Toolstation Marketing, added: “It was clear that the North Counties East League is well run and has great local support, so we are honoured to be able to assist and extend our support of grassroots football in the UK.”

The deal really is good news for everyone connected with the league and it is a sound, lucrative start to a new season - and indeed a new era within the league.

So, the Toolstation Northern Counties East League kicks off a week on Saturday and our three Division One clubs look to be facing a stiff challenge for promotion this season.

Hallam made a dreadful start last season, and many of their Sandygate fans will argue that had they started as they finished, promotion would have been achieved.

New manager Chris Sellars and his support staff firmly believes that promotion is within their grasp, and Sellars is quietly confident of success this season - despite opening with six tough away games in August.

New signings include Sam Eckhardt and Mark Wall from Shirebrook, along with Dickinson, Lammy, O’Kane and keeper Reay.

Their latest additions include the experienced James Cook and Swallownest striker Mark West, but the one that caught my eye in a friendly game was 19-year old-midfielder Danny Booth, who I believe can mature into something special.

They have, however, lost Aaron Moxam, who joined Sheffield FC and Connor Sellars to an Icelandic league club.

Dinnington Town are a struggling club, their finances restrict any strengthening and much depends on the form of Andy Sykes in defence and striker Liam Cartledge’s goals.

Worsbrough Bridge, too, should be in with a shout of promotion.

There are still the matter of a few friendlies to get out the way before the action starts, but it is pleasing to see the end in sight of friendlies and the real thing start in nine days time.

Bring it on!