The Northern Football League
Published 17th August 2012
......League season tomorrow against Darlington.
The match has already made history before it’s even kicked off, as it’s the first all ticket match in Northern League history to be sold out, and the 2,000 crowd – three quarters of them from Darlington -- will be the biggest league gate for around thirty years.
But Myers says that his side must produce a much improved performance. “We were dreadful last week at Tow Law, and dropped our standards. We must improve or we’ll have a few problems against Darlington.
“I just hope that it isn’t one of those games that’s built up and becomes a damp squib.”
Striker Dan Hawkins and defender Adam McLane are both doubtful because of injury.
Bishops are asking fans to arrive as early as possible for what is their most eagerly-anticipated game. Entrance gates will open at 1pm.
It’s a reflection of the strength of the league that there are so many top quality games today.
First Division champions Spennymoor Town meet Second Division winners Team Northumbria at the Brewery Field, and manager Jason Ainsley’s biggest problem will be who to leave out of his sixteen-man squad.
The two sides met in the Cleator Cup on Tuesday, Moors coming out on top by 2-0.
Last season’s runners up West Auckland Town take on Newcastle Benfield at Darlington Road, and West manager Peter Dixon will choose from a full squad, except for striker Stuart Banks, who is missing because of suspension. Benfield are missing their keeper Andy Granger and midfielder Mark Turnbull.
FA Vase winners Dunston UTS, who finished third last season, have a good opening game at home to Shildon, and they will be back to full strength, with skipper Ben Cattanach and defender Steve Gibson both returning.
Shildon will give league debuts to striker Adam Johnston and midfielder Robbie Briggs, but midfielder Chris Hughes is unavailable.
Newly-promoted Hebburn tackle Guisborough Town, and they welcome back five players to the squad who missed the FA Cup win last weekend, while Stuart Nicholson, Tony Stephenson and James Luccock will all have fitness tests.
Guisborough add Craig Bishop, Gary Wood and Paul Roddam to their squad, while Luke Bythway will have a fitness test.
Newton Aycliffe are away to Marske United, looking to bounce back from their midweek FA Cup defeat at Holker Old Boys, and they welcome back striker Paul Robinson, but defender Darren Craddock is unavailable.
Marske will be missing defender Josh Myers, who has an ankle ligament injury, but manager Craig Gibbin, taking charge of his first league game, will choose from an otherwise full squad.
Norton & Stockton Ancients manager Andy Campbell also has his first league game in charge at home to Penrith, and he adds assistant-manager and keeper Jim Provett to his squad, but Michael Dalton is unavailable.
Durham City, relegated from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League last season, have a tough opener away to Bedlington Terriers, and manager Dickie Ord will be missing Evann Graham, who has a broken foot.
Two teams who exited the FA Cup in midweek, Sunderland RCA and Consett , meet at Meadow Park.
The RCA include winger Abu Sali, signed from Blyth Spartans, but defender James Oates and striker Andy Appleby are both unavailable.
Consett have a doubt over defender Anthony Lund, but definitely missing are Jack Stanger and Luke Sullivan.
Celtic Nation, who could be outsiders for the title, are at home to South Shields, and they will be missing former Darlington and Hartlepool defender Paul Arnison, while David Wallace, Ryan Smith and Ryan Hetherington all have work commitments.
Billingham Synthonia are at Ashington, and could make changes to the team that lost to Celtic Nation last week.
Ashington, who this week transfer-listed striker Stephen Young, are without injured pair Jonny Godsmark and Gareth Rees.
Billingham Town are at home to Whitley Bay, and assistant-manager Ian Clark, who is in charge of the side, will be without defender Richie Gaston, otherwise they will be at full strength.
Whitley will be without suspended pair Craig McFarlane and Callum Anderson, while Brian Smith and Chris Fawcett are both unavailable.
Tow Law Town begin life as a Second Division club for the first time in their history at home to Alnwick Town, and manager Gary Anderson will choose from a full squad, if Matty Scott passes a late fitness test.
Another newcomer to the Second Division, ex-Wearside League club Ryhope CW, begin life away to Stokesley SC, who finished bottom of the First Division last season.
Most of last season’s squad have remained at the club, and in midweek manager Martin Swailes signed keeper Chris Rookes and striker Steve Winn. He will give late fitness tests to Jon Butler, Greg Swansbury and Nathan Johnson.
Darlington RA, who just missed out on promotion last season, are at Brandon United, and they will be missing their top striker Steve Allison, as well as Jamie Smith, Jimmy Muir and Steve Cheeseman..
Northallerton Town are at home to Crook Town, one of the promotion favourites. Stuart Hardy will have a fitness test, while Ian Smirthwaite returns after holiday. However, Crook have several players missing because of holidays, while defender Corey Barnes and striker Kevin Devine will both have fitness tests. Northallerton scored four last week against Guisborough in the Cup, and still lost.
Chester-le-Street are at Whitehaven, who lost 6-0 to Shildon in the cup last Saturday. Former Tow Law striker Marc Nixon returns, but Stephen Buzzeo and Kieron McDonald both return.
Another relegated club, Jarrow Roofing, are at home to North Shields, and manager Richie McLoughlin is without Anth Myers, but Simon Parkin and Robbie Dalziel come back into the squad.
Esh Winning, who faded in the latter half of last season, are at home to Birtley Town, and they are missing winger Stuart Thompson, but defenders Stephen Oakley and Gary Turton return after missing last weekend’s FA Cup win at Washington.
Birtley, who won their first ever FA Cup tie in midweek, are missing four players for various reasons, while Craig Marron will have a fitness test. They have signed Brian Hutchinson from Whickham.
Seaham Red Star, under new manager Mark Collingwood, are at home to West Allotment Celtic, and are missing Peter Bryson, James Wood and Alan Pegram, but Adam Drysdale and Dean Patton are both expected to pass late fitness tests.
Allotment who had a good start to their season last week when they beat Selby Town in the Cup, are missing Liam Hudson and Michael Bell.
Thornaby, who are at home to Whickham, include new signings Indy Sangha, Charlie Teesdale, Rob Keenan and Steve Morrison.
Whickham themselves have signed seven new players, one of them by the unusual name of Scot Scott. Scott Wilson, Kris Allen and Kevin Edgar are all missing.
Washington are at home to Ryton, whose manager, Jimmy Hendry, resigned last week.
Midfielder Nicky Evans is doubtful for Washington, while Ryton yesterday appointed Fred Iredale as their new manager.
Horden are hoping for a much better season, starting away to Morpeth.