THE Hunters York & District Senior League begins on Saturday with the match of the day arguably being Sheriff Hutton Bridge's clash with Stamford Bridge.
The league has swelled to 59 clubs for the coming season due to the assimilation of the former East Yorkshire Alliance. In addition, a further 28 clubs will be participating in the league’s conference section, which means a total of 144 sides will be taking to the field each Saturday.
The senior section of the league has reverted back to a regional basis, with the premier division and division one covering the whole of the geographical area and then two division twos, two division threes and three division fours – with four conference sections operating below the latter.
About 40 transfers have been recorded, most of players moving into the York League, with the internal movement of players at possibly an all-time low.
Woodhouse Grange maintained their dominance of recent years by winning the championship pennant by 115 points in 2013 and it is difficult to see them being seriously challenged in 2014.
They have lost Andrew Anderson, who has moved to nearby Pocklington, but have signed Pat and Matthew Durkin from Stockton & Hopgrove, who will add to their strong pool of players.
Sheriff Hutton Bridge nicked the runners-up place last season and will be happy if they can repeat this position this year.
They have a strong batting line-up led by Adam Fisher but may be short on bowling if Eddie Barnes is regularly called on by Yorkshire Academy where he will be appearing alongside Matt Fisher, whose appearances for SHB are likely to be minimal if at all.
The side meets third-placed Stamford Bridge on the opening day for a game that may offer some insight into the season.
Stamford will be strengthened by the inclusion of Carlton Towers stalwart Mark Holmes, who has opted to move to a premier division club.
As usual, the premier division is likely to be closely fought with teams such as Studley Royal, Easingwold, Dunnington and Clifton Alliance all turning out strong sides.
The two promoted sides, Hull Zingari and Fenner, will both be capable of holding their own, which means that Beverley, York II and Sewerby may be facing a tough year although the latter have recruited Mark Tenant from Scarborough.
Having been relegated by just eight points last term, Acomb will be looking for a quick return to the top flight and have improved their playing pool by adding spinner Mark Bell from Heworth and Paul Downey from Tadcaster Magnet.
Selby, who also went down, may find it a little more difficult and could well find themselves behind the likes of Folkton & Flixton, Sessay and Heworth.
Pickering and Driffield may be threatened and will need to overcome the likes of newly promoted Malton & Old Malton and Bolton Percy
Harrogate have made a number of signings and will be hoping to bounce straight back into division one, while Londesborough Park may also figure strongly in division two.
Tom Kilby is back at Thorp Arch & Boston Spa, as skipper, and will be keen to reverse last year’s relegation from division two.
However, Ripon have seven new players who must surely improve their chances of success, along with Pocklington in division two north.
Patrington will be looking to continue their successful run in division two south in which Hull could be a surprise team.