The opening weekend of the Bedfordshire County Football League season, with cricket still having priority at several grounds, has a reduced programme of just 25 games.
In the top flight Premier Division supported by Sportsform section there are just five games. Topping the bill will be the clash at Oakley Playing Fields where last season’s league champions AFC Oakley M&DH begin the defence of their title with a visit from league cup winners Shefford Town & Campton.
Meantime, just down the road at Renhold Playing Fields the visitors to face Renhold United are Wootton Blue Cross. With both clubs having enjoyed a successful pre-season programme they are both on many peoples short list to surmount a serious title challenge this season.
Talking of league titles, no club has more than Caldecote and after their disastrous season last term they will look to start the season with the three points from their home encounter at Harvey Close against newly promoted AFC Turvey. However, Turvey will be no pushovers and could well spoil the home party and give notice of their own intentions for the campaign ahead.
For two of the other newly promoted clubs its a home start. At their new home of Sharnbrook Upper School, Eastcotts AFC will be playing hosts to Marston Shelton Rovers whilst at Bedford Road Recreation Ground the visitors to face host club Sandy are Sharnbrook.
In Division One it’s a programme of seven games and with just six sides left in the division from last season all eyes will be in the outlook to see who might become this year’s title challengers. However, no matter how hard they look they will not spot many folks title favourites Elstow Abbey as they will be sitting the afternoon out.
Of the other five sides left from last season two go head to head at Stockwood Park Athletic Stadium where Sundon Park Rangers play hosts to Marabese Ceramics in the divisions game of the day with both clubs strongly fancied to figure in this seasons title race.
For Henlow, last season’s league cup winners, its a short trip down the road to Everton Playing Fields to face newly promoted Great Barford. Whilst Bedford SA journey down the A421 for a Crawley Road meeting with another of the newly promoted sides Cranfield United who in having made several interesting signings over the summer could well be in another title shake up again this season.
The Division Two league champions of 2013-14 were of course Oakley Sports M&DH Reserves who will start their season with a visit to Gold Street and a meeting with fellow promoted club Riseley Sports. Last season’s Division Three champions Meltis Albion. having jumped two divisions. begin life in division one with a home game at Miller Road against last season’s fifth place division two outfit Potton Town.
Over at New Grounds Harlington, AFC Harlington will commence life in division one with a visit from Shefford Town & Campton Reserves. Whilst in Mowsbury Park the visitors to face Queens Park Crescents are AFC Kempston Town & Bedford College Reserves.
In Division Two it is a full programme of eight games yet remarkably just one side remains in this section from last season, that side being Renhold United Reserves who will journey to Jubilee Playing Fields for an outing against Wilstead Reserves.
For last seasons division three silver medallists Stevington its a home start at their Playing Field headquarters against the now revamped Caldecote Reserves. Whilst last terms division three bronze medallists Westoning hit the road to Markyate to face last seasons division four silver medallists FC Houghton.
Over at King George VI Playing Fields its a meeting between two of last terms division four clubs when Clapham Sports play hosts to Wootton Village. Whilst local bragging rights will be the order of the day in Hillgrounds where Kempston Con Club Sports entertain Kempston Athletic.
Other action coming at Miller Road, the venue at which last seasons division four champions Meltis Albion Reserves entertain Marston Shelton Rovers Reserves and at Cutler Hammer its a home start for Kempston Hammers Sports against Bedford United who have rebranded themselves from Bedford Panthers during the close season.
The final game in this section taking Elstow Abbey Reserves on the road to Horseshoes Close to be hosted by Moggerhanger United.
The Division Three action is down to just five games, the first of which will see a midday kick off at Horseshoes Close between the hosting Moggerhanger United Reserves and Dinamo Flitwick. Then for three of the league newcomers its home action. At Bedford Academy, FC Serbia start life with a visit from Mid Beds Tigers and at Greenfield Road, Westoning U20 will be the hosts to Sandy Reserves. Whilst in Hillgrounds, White Eagles complete the trio when they entertain Atletico Europa.
The final game comes at Whiston Crescent, the venue at which Clifton play hosts to perhaps many peoples title favourites Flitwick Town Reserves.