The opening day game between two-time defending champions Spennymoor Town and last season’s runners-up Consett promises to be just one of the many highlights of the Northern League 2011-12 season. Whitley Bay welcome Dunston UTS to Hillheads while Guisborough Town – at home to Newcastle Benfield – face arguably the toughest start of the three promoted clubs. Division Two champions Newton Aycliffe host the renamed Stokesley Sports Club and ex-New Marske manager Monty Alexander. After pipping North Shields to the last of the promotion slots, Markse United make the long trip (or that’s how it always feels, anyway) to Tow Law Town.
In Division Two, Northern League new boys Alnwick Town kick off their season with four home games in a row, beginning with the visit of North Shields on August 13th. Fellow newcomers Easington Colliery have a daunting start, travelling to promotion favourites Esh Winning before they play Team Northumbria at home in the first round of midweek games. In Championship terms, that’s a bit like Peterborough United squaring up to Birmingham and Cardiff City, except Team Northumbria pass the ball a whole lot better.
Other early season games to look out for include Spennymoor at home to Shildon on August 29th (Bank Holiday Monday) and the Division Two match between West Allotment Celtic and Whickham on Non-League Day (September 3rd). Further ahead (and weather permitting) Boxing Day promises a veritable blizzard of local derbies including Billingham Synthonia vs Billingham Town, Whitley Bay vs Newcastle Benfield, Bedlington Terriers vs Ashington, Horden CW vs Easington Colliery and Guisborough Town vs Marske United. Fans of Jarrow Roofing face a slightly longer trip – to Penrith. For those of you who like to start at the very end, the last day of the season is on Saturday April 28th.