Always a good day is the first of the season proper, and excellent opponents today in the always tough and competitive Newcastle Benfield. Last year's game here was a cracker, with Benfield taking the lead and our boys fighting back for a hard worked for good win in the end. Be great if today is an equally entertaining game. And the start of an interesting season, as the FA’s structural changes to the non-league game start to take effect after long delays and prevarication. Marske and Morpeth have gone, upwards and maybe onwards, good luck to them both, will it work out for them? I hope so, but I’m not certain. If it was just about football I would be confident they would finish first and second this season in the Evostik North, and they may very well do so, but it isn’t just about football is it? It’s also about long journeys, time off work, early starts, late returns, and irate bosses, wives and children. I’m afraid I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or both back sometime in the next couple of years. Maybe not though. Anyway it will still be tough and competitive here, and probably made more competitive by the much reduced fixture list. Two gone up and one dropped out and all of a sudden it's six games fewer than last season. Which is a lot. Team North were always a funny set up, some very nice people but not really a football club as we know it, and their leaving of the league so late leaves a sour taste. As did the appalling corporate claptrap Northumbria University came out with to try and justify their decision. Free advice to the Vice Chancellor and his PR department: when you have been a prat, just say sorry. It works for me.
So, are we going for it? Are we up to it? Good summer I reckon, with most people staying, a couple of famous returns in Sparky and JJ, and a crop of interesting youngsters. So maybe we will be able to sustain a challenge close to the top. The bigger squad should certainly help. Injuries cost us dear mid season last term, but a lot of teams seem to be setting their stall out for a real bash at things, including at least one of the promoted sides. Should be good, let's get to it.