Yes, it’s that magical time of the year once again where all our hopes and dreams are yet to be dashed and the possibilities seem endless. Or if you’re in the media team, it’s where there’s loads of stuff to get out and not enough time to do it in! But we will give it a crack, so here goes…
This afternoon, the new league fixtures for the Northern Premier League West were announced. So, now take a deep breath and plan your lives for the next nine months. No longer shall you be plagued by the fear of thinking you might miss out on the amazing footy scran at Avro FC – Saturday 20 January since you asked – by accidentally booking a week away with the family. Perish the thought.
The league has a few new trips this time round and a lot less travel courtesy of Workington (hallelujah) getting promoted via the play-offs last season.
We’ll have the usual derbies of course with Hanley, Kidsgrove and Leek to get in the diaries but there are also some big clubs (that’s not a dig at our local rivals by the way!) joining our league this season.
Stalybridge Celtic are a well-known non-league team and have a proud history of playing in the higher echelons of the pyramid but there are plenty of other new teams as well.
Vauxhall Motors being in our division means we’ll have a trip to Ellesmere Port, while this season we’ll also be heading down south to play Hednesford Town. Chasetown are here for the ride as well and they lift the Staffordshire contingent to five out of the league’s 20 teams.
Nantwich Town dropped down from the Premier Division last season but will be determined to make an immediate return while Witton Albion currently bottom of the table on alphabetical order will be boosted by the signing of former Vale striker Tom Pope from Congleton.
Avro – home of the Bomber Box one of the league’s culinary delights – will be a new name to many and suddenly will leave fans yearning to go to Oldham. It’s the first away trip in the diary for me!
There’ll be reunions aplenty – such is the nature of the non-league scene – at Kidsgrove particularly, where Jake and Callum Lovatt will be plying their trade. Nat Morley is another one who’s made the short trip up the A34.
And then of course there’s Hanley Town where our former captain James Askey has signed for the new season. We travel there on August Bank Holiday Monday and they come to us on New Year’s Day.
All in all, there’s plenty to look forward to for the new season but even before any of these league fixtures take place…. (drum roll) we have the romance of an FA Cup extra preliminary round trip to Brum to take on Romulus of the Midland League Premier Division.
Right that’s it, I need a lie down…