Central and South Norfolk League ready for big kick-off

The league programme gets underway on Saturday with a fairly full programme of fixtures and 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 the pick of the action likely to be the all First Division tie between the Ambulance Cup winners, Tacolneston, and the newly promoted Division Two champions, Castle Acre Swifts. There is a local derby at Dereham Town where the A team who won the Junior League Cup, entertain Division Three runners up, Scarning United. The Division Four champions, Litcham, entertain Yaxham, the Second Division runners up while Nostro, the Ben Smith Memorial Cup runners up, will entertain the Pease League Cup winners, Mulbarton Wanderers Reserves.

With another large number of new teams joining the league this season, competition is likely to be fierce in all four divisions with one of the highest ever number of competing teams. Division One has an established look about it with only champions Feltwell United. and Shropham United having left. Based on last season, Morley Village, Dereham Town A, Tacolneston and Northwold S&SC should all be there or thereabouts. Of the others, Shipdham, Bridgham United, Gressenhall, Thetford Rovers Reserves and Swaffham Town A will be looking to improve on their creditable mid-table performances from last year.

Narborough and Rockland United who both escaped relegation because of the decision that relegation should not apply last season will both be hoping for better things this season. Of the promoted teams, Castle Acre Swifts will have to be considered real contenders given their impressive performances last season and both Yaxham and North Elmham are more than capable of getting good results and may well make a noticeable impact in the top division.

Division Two will be somewhat weaker than recent seasons with two pre-season withdrawals reducing the numbers to 12. However, it is still likely to produce the usual tight competition and last season’s teams who missed out on promotion have to be among the favourites to be there or thereabouts come next May. Of these, Nostro and Sporle look the most likely. Several of the mid-table teams are capable of having a good season and this group is likely to include Necton and Hethersett Athletic. Of the promoted teams, Tugas United and Scarning United ought to do well given their records from last season and they will be closely matched by Bawdeswell, Mulbarton Wanderers Reserves and Rampant Horse.

The competition in Division Three is likely to be just as tight with 16 teams competing and four from Division Four having been promoted. Of last season’s teams, Marham Wanderers, Mattishall A and Wendling all ought to be able to build on last season’s form and make a real impact. The group below them will be looking to improve on last season and these include Colkirk, Stoke Ferry and Splitz United. League newcomers Weeting are also likely to be strong contenders given their record as a Sunday club.

The remaining five (Hingham Athletic Reserves, Methwold United, Rockland United Reserves, Great Cressingham and Narborough Reserves) will be hoping for better things out of this campaign. The Division Four champions, Litcham, and runners up, Watton United A, will both be looking to continue their good form from last year and the other promoted teams, Attleborough Athletic and North Elmham Reserves, ought to be capable of mounting a challenge for honours.

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Division Four is often dominated by the newly elected teams and this year may prove to be no exception with so many of the new teams joining the league making their debut in this division. There will be 14 teams competing for honours. Of the new teams, the reserve teams from Gressenhall and Feltwell United together with the new A team from Mulbarton Wanderers ought to make an impression. Of the other new reserve teams, Methwold United and Northwold S&SC are based on well established clubs in the league’s south west area and could do well.

Of last year’s Division Four teams, Nostro Reserves, Walsingham United, Weasenham Wanderers and Yaxham Reserves all ought to be able to improve on last season’s finishing positions. Beetley United, Tacolneston Reserves and Castle Acre Swifts Reserves had reasonable seasons and will be looking to build on that. The remaining teams, Dereham Cockers United and Shipdham Reserves will both be hoping for better performances this time around to avoid finishing in one of the re-election places.