League ready for kick-off

Crown Fire Central and South Norfolk LeagueTHE league programme gets under way on Saturday with the first round of the Birds Sport & Outdoor Benevolent Cup, the league's equivalent of the Cup Winners' Cup.

Crown Fire Central and South Norfolk League

THE league programme gets under way on Saturday with the first round of the Birds Sport & Outdoor Benevolent Cup, the league's equivalent of the Cup Winners' Cup.

The draw has produced some interesting matches with pick of the action likely to be the tie between the league champions and Benevolent Cup holders, Toftwood Rangers and the Division Two champions, Thetford Athletic.

Elsewhere, Division Three champions Bunwell will entertain Ben Smith Memorial Cup holders Hingham Athletic, the Primary League Cup winners, Dickleburgh are at home to the Division Four champions, Thetford Rovers Reserves and the Pease League Cup winners, West End, will entertain North Elmham, the Junior League Cup winners.

Division One next season will be at full strength. League champions Toftwood Rangers will be striving to make it a hat-trick of successes, a feat that have never been achieved in the league's history. However, with some players having left for pastures new, they are likely to be hard pressed by other teams which finished strongly last season.

These will include Saham Toney, Yaxham and North Elmham. Dereham Town A enjoyed a good end to the season and could mount a challenge as well. All of these will be keen to prevent Toftwood from holding on to the league championship trophy.

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Of the chasing pack, Hingham Athletic are likely to do better than their seventh-placed position of last season. Of the promoted teams, Thetford Athletic have to be considered in contention given their record over the past three seasons and both Shipdham and Bridgham United are more than capable of getting good results and may well make a noticeable impact in the top division.

Division Two will produce the usual tight competition and last season's top half teams are likely to be there or thereabouts. This group is likely to include Dickleburgh and Tacolneston.

Swaffham Town who were relegated from Division One ought to perform well if they can make a speedy adjustment to their new environment. Of the promoted teams, Division Three champions Bunwell and runners-up Watton United who had impressive records in the league last season ought to make a serious impact and both Cockers and Hingham Athletic Reserves are capable of doing well in the higher division based on their form of last season.

The competition in Division Three will be just as tight with the teams who finished below the promotion places all capable of making an impact. On that basis, expect to see Bawdeswell, Foulsham Reserves and Swanton Morley all in contention.

The Division Four champions and runners-up, Thetford Rovers Reserves and Bradenham Wanderers Reserves both ought to do well given their records from last season and the other promoted teams, Shropham United, Great Cressingham and Sporle will all be looking to continue their good form from last year and all of them ought to be capable of mounting a serious challenge for honours.

Division Four is often dominated by the newly-elected clubs and this year may prove to be no exception. Of the new teams, Castle Acre Swifts and Fakenham Town A, having both joined from the North-West Norfolk League, Hethersett Athletic, being based on a well established club, and Northwold SSC, likely to have several experienced players from the former Stoke Ferry club, should make an impression.

The new reserve team from Shropham United may find it difficult unless they can get a settled team but they will have some experience to help them settle in. The other two entrants, Breckland Wanderers and Methwold Rovers are unknowns as they are new clubs and will be competing for the first time, Of last year's division four teams, Hindolveston and Thurton and Ashby both ought to be in with a shout.