‘It’s the Time of the Season…’ The 2014 Great Kick-Off

Stand by for real footballing action

From 3 o’clock tomorrow afternoon the Football Conference season kicks off, heralding for many people the start of the football season. Some may argue the season starts proper on the 16 August, next Saturday. To some extent, they could be right, being as both the Barclays Premier League and the Evostik Northern Premier League kick off on the same week. Tomorrow also sees our North West Counties League sides on their third game.

The Football Conference sees a new sponsor: Vanarama. Part of the Autorama, the Hemel Hempstead company offers van leasing throughout the United Kingdom. For the next three years, the three leagues will be known as Vanarama Conference, Conference North and Conference South.

This season sees Altrincham as Greater Manchester’s sole representative of the Conference Premier. The traditional ‘Bridge/Hyde derby is back this Boxing Day and New Year’s Day 2015 (Ewen Fields and Bower Fold of course, in that order). Curzon Ashton are now in their highest league with the Ashton derby back in the NPL Premier Division, for the first time since 1997. Mossley’s Tameside derby opponents will be Droylsden, relegated and replaced by Curzon Ashton.

This season will see two clubs lodging in Tameside. F.C. United of Manchester will be using Bower Fold, prior to the completion of Broadhurst Park. Taking temporary quarters at Seel Park, till a new ground is sought, is Oldham Borough. For the last two seasons, they have played ‘home’ matches at Atherton Collieries’ ground. At least their new temporary home is a 343 or 350 bus away. Therefore, Tameside is going to play host to eight clubs from the North West Counties League upwards. If you count Stockport Sports, Abbey Hey, Glossop North End and New Mills, that’s twelve clubs inside the Tameside Reporter and Glossop Chronicle circulation areas.

So far, our two representatives in the North West Counties League have had mixed success. Oldham Borough’s first game at Seel Park resulted in a 2-1 defeat against Cheadle Town. Glossop North End, have won their first two matches – trouncing Bacup and Rossendale Borough 6-0 at the Brian Boys West View Stadium, Cowtoot Lane, and at home against Maine Road (2-0).

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09 August 2014: The Big Kick Off:

All games kick off at 3pm unless stated otherwise. Clubs east of the M60 motorway denoted in bold type.

Vanarama Conference:

  • Aldershot v Altrincham.

Conference North:

  • Hyde F.C. v Oxford City;
  • Stockport County v North Ferriby United;
  • Worcester City v Stalybridge Celtic (at Aggborough, Kidderminster).

North West Counties Football League Premier Division:

  • Abbey Hey v Runcorn Linnets;
  • Glossop North End v A.F.C. Blackpool;
  • Stockport Sports v Winsford United.

North West Counties Football League First Division:

  • Ashton Town v Rochdale Town;
  • Chadderton v Wigan Robin Park;
  • Widnes v Oldham Borough.

Pre-season friendlies:

  • Ashton United v Connah’s Quay Nomads;
  • Mossley A.F.C. v Curzon Ashton;
  • New Mills v Trafford.

Cheshire Football League Premier Division:

  • Eagle Sports v Denton Town F.C.;
  • Gamesley v Rudheath Social.

Throughout Greater Manchester, there is three home matches on the A560 corridor: the two Stockport sides and Hyde’s. Altrincham and Stalybridge Celtic will be tramping along the M6 motorway before continuing to Aldershot and Kidderminster. High-flying Glossop North End entertain A.F.C. Blackpool at Surrey Street. Chadderton are at home to Wigan Robin Park.

Continuing the slightly tenuous Rugby League references, Oldham Borough (late of Whitebank Stadium – Oldham Roughyeds’ home) travel to Widnes, so both Oldham sides are literally in the shadows of Super League sides. Abbey Hey are at home to Runcorn Linnets, a breakaway club formed after Runcorn’s move to… the Halton Stadium (or Naughton Park if you prefer) – Widnes Vikings’ (and its spherical balled equivalent’s) home venue.

With the Northern Premier League kicking off on the 16 August, three of our local sides have friendlies. Ashton United entertain Connah’s Quay Nomads, whereas Mossley A.F.C. entertain newly promoted Curzon Ashton. In a repeat of their recent play-off final, New Mills entertain Trafford.

The Cheshire Football League also starts tomorrow. Gamesley start their season at home to Rudheath Social, whereas Denton Town F.C. start their campaign near Warrington, against Eagle Sports.

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16 August 2014: The Real Super Saturday:

All games kick off at 3pm unless stated otherwise. Clubs east of the M60 motorway denoted in bold type.

Vanarama Conference:

  • Altrincham v Bristol Rovers.

Conference North:

  • Guiseley v Stockport County;
  • Stalybridge Celtic v Solihull Moors;
  • North Ferriby United v Hyde F.C.

Northern Premier League Premier Division:

  • Belper Town v Ashton United;
  • Curzon Ashton v Marine;

Northern Premier League First Division North:

  • Bamber Bridge v Droylsden;
  • Harrogate Railway Athletic v Mossley;
  • New Mills v Burscough.

F.A. Challenge Cup, Extra Preliminary Round:

  • Barton Town Old Boys v Abbey Hey;
  • Glossop North End v A.F.C. Blackpool.
  • Nostell Miners’ Welfare v Stockport Sports;
  • Rochdale Town v Runcorn Linnets.

North West Counties Football League First Division:

  • Oldham Borough v Irlam (at Seel Park, Mossley);
  • Widnes v Chadderton.

FBT Manchester Football League Premier Division:

  • AVRO v Springhead (2.00pm);
  • Rochdale Sacred Heart v East Manchester (2.00pm);
  • Wythenshawe Amateurs v Dukinfield Town (2.30pm);
  • Royton Town v Manchester Georgians (3.15pm).

FBT Manchester Football League First Division:

  • Breightmet United v Uppermill (2.00pm);
  • Heywood St. James v Hollinwood (2.00pm);
  • Pennington v Chadderton Reserves (2.00pm).

Cheshire Football League Premier Division:

  • Denton Town F.C. v Greenalls Padgate St. Oswalds;
  • Gamesley v Knutsford.

The 16 August could see non-league football’s first Battle of the Gasometers. At Moss Lane (close to the site of its gasworks and North Western Gas Board’s Head Office), Altrincham entertain Bristol Rovers. Their opposition was at one point known as The Gasheads owing to Eastville (one of their former ground’s) being near the city’s gasworks.

Stalybridge Celtic entertain Solihull Moors at Bower Fold with Hyde away to North Ferriby United. Stockport County are also Yorkshire-bound – their opponents being Guiseley.

Curzon Ashton’s first match in the NPL Premier Division sees The Nash face Marine at the Tameside Stadium. Ashton United are away to Belper Town, whereas Droylsden make the short trip to Bamber Bridge. Mossley too would be following their Hydonian and Stopfordian rivals to Yorkshire – they travel to Starbeck for their game against Harrogate Railway Athletic. New Mills are at home to Burscough.

For many NWCFL sides, the 16 August is also F.A. Cup day. The extra preliminary round of the F.A. Challenge Cup sees Rochdale Town pitted against Runcorn Linnets. It is Groundhog Day for Glossop North End as the Peakites face a repeat of tomorrow’s fixture, against A.F.C. Blackpool. Abbey Hey travel to Barton Town Old Boys, whereas Nostell Miners’ Welfare await Stockport Sports.

In the North West Counties Football League First Division, Oldham Borough play Irlam, whereas Chadderton are away to Widnes.

Also commencing in the same week is the Manchester League’s 2014 – 15 campaign. In the Premier Division, Springhead travel to AVRO with Rochdale Sacred Heart and Royton Town at home to East Manchester and Manchester Georgians respectively. Dukinfield Town begin their season, with a trip to Wythenshawe Amateurs’ ground.

In the Manchester League First Division, Uppermill are away to Breightmet United. Heywood St. James entertain Hollinwood, whereas Chadderton Reserves travel to Pennington.

Both our local Cheshire Football League Premier Division sides have fixtures. Denton Town face Greenalls Padgate St. Oswalds, whereas Gamesley’s opponents are Knutsford.

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Other Noteworthy Fixtures:

Boxing Day, Friday 26 December 2014:

Vanarama Conference:

  • Altrincham v Bristol Rovers.

Conference North:

  • Stockport County v Colwyn Bay;
  • Hyde F.C. v Stalybridge Celtic;

Northern Premier League Premier Division:

  • Curzon Ashton v F.C. United of Manchester;
  • Ramsbottom United v Ashton United.

Northern Premier League First Division North:

  • New Mills v Mossley;
  • Northwich Victoria v Droylsden.

North West Counties Football League Premier Division:

  • Abbey Hey v Bacup and Rossendale Borough;
  • Glossop North End v Stockport Sports.

North West Counties Football League First Division:

  • Chadderton v Oldham Borough.

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New Year’s Eve, Wednesday 31 December 2014:

Vanarama Conference:

  • Altrincham v Aldershot.

New Year’s Day, Thursday 01 January 2015:

Conference North:

  • Colwyn Bay v Stockport County;
  • Stalybridge Celtic v Hyde F.C.;

Northern Premier League Premier Division:

  • Ashton United v Curzon Ashton;
  • F.C. United of Manchester v Trafford.

Northern Premier League First Division North:

  • Mossley v Padiham;
  • Ossett Albion v New Mills;
  • Droylsden v Salford City.

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25 April 2014 – Final Day of the Season:

Vanarama Conference:

  • Braintree Town v Altrincham.

Conference North:

  • Stalybridge Celtic v Gainsborough Trinity;
  • Stockport County v Harrogate Town;
  • Tamworth v Hyde F.C.

Northern Premier League Premier Division:

  • Ashton United v Rushall Olympic;
  • Workington v F.C. United of Manchester;
  • Frickley Athletic v Curzon Ashton.

Northern Premier League First Division North:

  • Darlington 1883 v New Mills 
  • Spennymoor Town v Mossley;
  • Droylsden v Radcliffe Borough.

North West Counties Football League Premier Division:

  • AFC Liverpool v Abbey Hey;
  • Runcorn Linnets v Glossop North End
  • Congleton Town v Stockport Sports.

North West Counties Football League First Division:

  • Chadderton v Widnes;
  • Irlam v Oldham Borough.

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Baited Breath?

We at East of the M60 are looking forward to the return of Real Football tomorrow. Will you be making the journey to Kidderminster with The Mighty ‘Bridge, or watching the Tigers play Oxford City. Or would you be watching one of the friendlies? Feel free to comment on the opening day’s fixtures, or the like.

The season’s only hours away. Bring it on!

S.V., 08 August 2014.

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