A 'Top 20' makes the CML North just like the Premier League!
The constitution for next season’s Central Midlands League North Division has given us a full complement of 20 teams, meaning some 38 league games to be played between 9th August and 16th May. Wow!
The full house comes courtesy of four new teams coming in, while champions AFC Mansfield follow in the footsteps of Dronfield Town in having gained promotion to the Northern Counties East League.
Of the four newcomers, Appleby Frodingham's relegation from the NCEL offers us a short hop across the Humber Bridge to the Brumby Hall Sports Ground.
Another name familiar with the NCEL is Dinnington Town. Unlike Appleby Frodingham, however, the South Yorkshire side were not relegated but instead resigned due to ongoing problems with vandalism at their Phoenix Park home.
As reported in the Worksop Guardian it was a sad end to Town’s life at Step 6 but, hopefully, the new club's return to where their forerunners began life in 2000 might signify another upturn in fortunes.
Of the other two new teams, FC Bolsover would appear to have some connection with Sunday League side FC Brimington who many supporters may remember from the old CML Premier Division days.
As for Bilsthorpe, they’re a Charter Standard club with several junior teams in tow who happen to play at Eakring Road, once home to FC 05 and one of the finest playing surfaces in the competition.
So, overall, it’s good news for the competition. However, given our lack of floodlights and Low Farm’s susceptibility to standing water, anything like a severe winter will no doubt prompt a sharp intake of breath from our Committee!
My only hope is that new fixture secretary Tony Baugh will set out from the start to allocate us midweek away games at those clubs fairly local to us who possess lights.
Last season, only the away trip to “neighbours” Westella Hanson was allocated a 7.45pm kick-off. Visits to fellow Yorkshire clubs Brodsworth, Kinsley Boys and Askern, along with nearby Harworth Colliery, were all allocated Saturday dates, leading to something of a fixture pile-up in April and May.
Don’t get me wrong, we were partly to blame due to starting the season late following the countless problems we experienced last summer. And for simply allowing us to do this we will forever be grateful to the CMFL committee.
That said we did immediately offer to “go anywhere under lights” with the obvious caveat that we’d prefer to avoid the months of January and February when the weather could not only threaten games at short notice but when travelling such distances can become slightly more hazardous. For whatever reason, these fixtures never happened. I've got a feeling they will this time round!
So, here we go again. Our fifth season in the Central Midlands League and easily set to be our longest. Here’s hoping it’s a memorable one.