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6-Man League starts season off

Veterans League

Preview of the 6-Man League fixtures for Monday 8 April

The first day of a new season is always a nervous time especially for new teams to the League and the 6-Man League has 5 new teams facing their first tests of the season on Monday. Only one of those teams has been placed in Division 1 so bringing added pressure as Waterloo face last season's runners-up Golcar C&BC.

Now the Veterans League doesn't have a great record in their selection of teams to start life in the top division. Three teams have been given that burden in the last two season, two of them have finished at the bottom of the table and relegated in their first season. Linthwaite Hall in 2022 when they won one match all season, were relegated and only just avoided a second successive relegation last season finishing two points off a drop to Division 3 last year.

Then last year Elland C&BC was deemed good enough to justify a top division ranking for their first season in the League and again finished bottom with just two wins from 22 fixtures to follow Linthwaite Hall's lead. Instant promotion to the top division brings added pressure and can result in permanent damage to a team's future so all eyes are on Waterloo on the opening day of the new season. We wish them well.

Marsh United begin the defence of their Division 1 title with a trip to Netherton Con, a team they completed a league double over last season so will be aiming for more of the same this time around. A good start is always important and the Champions would love to repeat their 2023 record of 9 wins from their first 10 fixtures as they built on their promotion as Division 2 title winners.

Will Slaithwaite follow that example by following up on their runaway 2023 Division 2 title success to push themselves into title contention in the top division? They entertain Thongsbridge A on the opening day who can provide a benchmark test on the likelihood of following their predeccessors example. Lindley Lib A finished second to Slaithwaite last season and completed an instant return to Division 1 last season after relegation in 2022. Are they about to become a yo-yo team alternating seasons between the top two divisions or can they consoldate their position in the top flight? An opening day visit to Lockwood Con should give some insights as to their season-long chances of building on last year's achievement.

Skel Windmill A enjoyed their promotion to Division 1 last year by matching the away record of the 2023 Champions by winning 7 of their 11 away fixtures for an identical 47 away points total over the season. If they can improve their home record then that could be the key to mounting a real challenge this time around. Shepley A were damaged last year when defending their previous title success for a 2nd time and finished in 4th place. Can they recapture their title winning form or will they lapse into the level of performance that saw them capitulate to defeat at Elland C&BC who collected one of their only two wins throughout the season against the 2023 Champions.

Crosland Moor only avoided relegation last season by beating Champions Marsh United A 6-1 in their penultimate match of the season so showing their potential and more of that form will be required if they are to stay clear of the relegation places this season. They open their programme by hosting Paddock I&C who were the third team to be promoted from Division 2 last year to balance out the numbers in each division. A group of four mid-table finishing teams sitting just above the drop zone will fear for their Division 1 futures. Two of that quartet meet on the opening day as Brockholes A host Milnsbridge A which should provide a clear indication as to which of them is likely to feature most prominently at the wrong end of the table this year.

The 2024 Division 2 programme includes four teams promoted with Hemplow and Greenhead Park A joining the top two teams from the 2023 Division 3 final table, New Mill and Marsh Lib A. Two of that quartet face each other this Monday as Greenhead Park A host Marsh Lib A with the visitors claiming a league double over their rivals last year.

New Mill step up a level this season and start their season away at Linthwaite Hall who will be hoping not to be involved in a relegation scrap for a third consecutive season. The Linthwaite Hall team had a better away record than at home last season so will be aiming to address that imbalance by winning their first home match of the season whilst New Mill will be full of confidence after their acheivements of last year.

Bradley & Colne have joined the 6-Man League after team raising problems last season forced them to review their 10-Man League status and they join the Division 2 programme with a difficult opening fixture away to Golcar Lib. Elland C&BC and Longwood will both be aiming for an immediate return to the top level and their opponents will have similar targets. Longwood host Clayton West who have finished 4th, 5th and 6th in their three seasons at this level and will expect to improve on that this time around.

Elland C&BC had a rough baptism in Division 1 last season and will be aiming to consolidate their status and possibly start a bid for promotion and an opening day trip to play Lindley Lib B will provide a good indication of their capability. The Lindley Lib B were in contention for automatic promotion for most of last season but losing 3 of their final 6 matches put paid to that aspiration for another term.

Three of the 5 new teams start their 6-Man League experience in Division 3 as Marsh Lib B, Greenhead Park B and Brockholes C will all line up for the first time on Monday. Brockholes are following the Thongsbridge model by having 3 teams in the League and the C team mainly playing their home matches on a Friday. They start their fixture programme away at Thongsbridge B and with both clubs having two teams in the same division can expect to see quite a bit of each other, and each other's green, by the end of the season.

The two teams dropping down into this division will fancy their chances of a quick return and both will expect to beat their opening day opponents. Skel Windmill B are away at Shepley B who finished bottom of the table for a 2nd successive season last term whilst Denby Dale have home advantage over Thongsbridge C who completed their first season in the League with a bottom half finish although commendably they did win half of their matches over the season.

Hopefully Kirklees Council wont have sold the Primrose Hill Lib green to a property developer so that the team can play their opening fixture on their home green when they will welcome the new Greenhead Park B into the competition. The other new team to the League is March Lib B and they open their season with a home match against Brockholes B who only won one away fixture all last season.

Div.3 New teams Brockholes C, Marsh Lib B, Greenhead Park B are all in action on the opening day but with 13 teams in the bottom division it means that one team sits out each week with Holmfirth B assuming that position in Week 1.

HuddWeb will continue to strive to bring you the best coverage of the Veterans League right through the season with an independent but participants view of events. Weekly previews and post-match analysis are aimed to stimulate discussions and provide an insight into both the 6-Man League and the 10-Man League right through the season. Keep coming back here to stay abreast of all matters relating to crown green bowling in the Huddersfield area.


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