Spalding Hockey Club’s men face an away double-header as the new East Hockey League season gets under way on Saturday.
Once again, both Spalding and Long Sutton will enter a host of teams in the vast and competitive league, which was forced to end prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic back in March.
The stand-out opening weekend fixtures come in the Men’s League, with Spalding 1st facing testing trips to Division One champions Wapping 3rd (Saturday) and familiar foes St Albans 2nd (Sunday).
Spalding, who finished ninth last season, will be looking to get points on the board against a Wapping side who are sure to be full of confidence following their promotion and a St Albans outfit who finished just two places ahead of them last time around.
You now have to go as far down as Division 3NW to find South Holland’s next representatives in the league, following Long Sutton 1st’s relegation last term.
They begin the new season with an all-club affair against Long Sutton 2nd at the Peele Leisure Centre (2.30pm). Sutton’s second string narrowly missed out on promotion last season.
In the same division, Spalding 2nd will be gunning for the promotion places too. They begin with a testing home date against Cambridge South 2nd at Glen Park.
Promotion rivals last term, South finished narrowly ahead of Spalding in fourth and fifth places respectively.
Riding solo as South Holland’s only side in Division 5NW this season are Spalding 3rd, who get under way with an always testing trip to Cambridge City 6th on Saturday.
It promises to be a fun season in Division 6NW (N), though, with no less than three local sides battling it out.
Spalding 5th begin with a home showdown against Leadenham 3rd, with club mates Spalding 4th handed the dreaded rest day on the opening weekend.
Long Sutton 3rd, meanwhile, are on the road for a derby of sorts against Bourne Deeping 5th.
Meanwhile, the East Women’s League fixtures have handed both Spalding Poachers 1st and Long Sutton 1st home games on day one of the Division 2NW season.
The most exciting of the two duels is a Lincolnshire derby between Sutton’s top women and Bourne Deeping 1st at the Peele Leisure Centre, while Spalding’s leading ladies host Saffron Walden 1st.
Spalding 2nd are also at home in Division 3NW when they host Ely City 1st at Glen Park, while Spalding 3rd visit Leadenham 1st in Division 4NW (N).
Long Sutton ladies’ 2nd must wait for their 4NW (N) opener after being handed an early-season rest day.
Selected fixtures: East Men’s League (Saturday): Premier B – Wapping 3rd v Spalding 1st (11.30am). Division 3NW – Long Sutton 2nd v Long Sutton 1st (2.30pm); Spalding 2nd v Cambridge South 2nd (12.30pm). Division 5NW – Cambridge City 6th v Spalding 3rd (11.30am). Division 6NW (N) – Bourne Deeping 5th v Long Sutton 3rd (3.30pm); Spalding 5th v Leadenham 3rd (3.30pm). (Sunday): Premier B – St Albans 2nd v Spalding 1st (2pm).
East Women’s League (Saturday): Division 2NW – Long Sutton 1st v Bourne Deeping 1st (11am); Spalding 1st v Saffron Walden 1st (2pm). Division 3NW – Spalding 2nd v Ely City 1st (11am). Division 4NW (N) – Leadenham 1st v Spalding 3rd (2pm).