Stage one of the 2021-22 North West Counties League Fixtures have today been released and are available to view via the Fixtures page on the League Website. They can also be viewed on each Club Page, or downloaded from the links at the bottom of this page.
The fixtures this season have been released in stages, this is to allow for fixtures from Leagues higher up the pyramid to be taken into consideration. The reason for this is so that we can plan to avoid ground sharing clashes at facilities.
The first weekend of fixtures takes place on Saturday 31st July followed swiftly by the first raft of midweek fixtures the following week. FA Competitions begin on Saturday 7th September so there are no fixtures for Premier Division clubs, but following that we get straight back in with more fixtures for all in what will be a busy August.
When we review the latest fixture releases we normally feature relegated sides first, however with the reorganisation having taken place we will first look at new members and promoted sides in the 21 team Premier Division.
Macclesfield FC are a new addition to the Premier Division and they start their new life in the NWCFL with a home tie against Burscough on July 31st followed swiftyly by a trip to Winsford United on August 2nd. They then host consecutive home league games as they face Irlam (14/8) and Prestwich Heys (17/8) before travelling to Longridge Town on 21st August.
Elsewhere on the opening weekend, newly promoted sides Vauxhall Motors and AFC Liverpool face off at Riveacre Park whilst Wythenshawe Town travel to Ashton Athletic. Prestwich Heys make their debut in the Premier Division as they host Northwich Victoria whilst the other promoted club, Lower Breck travel to Squires Gate.
Congleton who won their appeal against a lateral move to the Midlands League travel to Longridge Town in their opener.
The games will come thick and fast and in the first week there is a full schedule of midweek games, Prestwich hosting Charnock Richard is an eye catcher on 3rd August whilst Lower Breck host the first of a few local derbies when they host Vauxhall Motors on the Thursday 5th August.
There is then a week’s gap for FA Cup and FA Vase fixtures prior to league fixtures returning on 14th August.
In Division One North there are 19 clubs this season due to the late withdrawal of a club. This should not dilute the excitement though as three new member clubs make their debut in the NWCFL, two having been invited to backfill vacancies from last season and Campion AFC having been laterally moved over from the Northern Counties East League.
Ilkley Town have a baptism of fire as they host one of the Bookies favorites, Bury AFC in their first game in the NWCFL. That game will be followed by a midweek trip to Bacup Borough. South Liverpool mark their return to the National League system for the first time in 30 years as they make the trip along the A59 to AFC Darwen. Their first home game is on the Wednesday (4th August) as they face a derby game against Ashton Town at Jericho Lane.
Campion AFC’s first game in the NWCFL is a roses derby as they travel to face Garstang, with the Yorkshire clubs following game being at home against neighbours, Golcar United the following Tuesday.
St Helens Town commence their campaign with a home game against Atherton LR whilst Bacup Borough host Cleator Moor Celtic. Ashton Town have started well in both of the disrupted and cancelled seasons and they begin their campaign with a home game against AFC Blackpool. Holker host Golcar on the opening day whilst Pilkington whom have also faired well in the disrupted season begin their season away at Nelson.
Division One South has a new look about it this season. Stafford Town make their NWCFL bow, hosting Ellesmere Rangers, whilst neighbours and fellow NWCFL debutants, Brocton travel to Sandbach United. All being well FC Isle of Man should finally make their League debut as they are scheduled to travel to Maine Road. Restrictions on the island vary from central government, however it is hoped that they should be able to hit the ground running this season.
Rocester are another new member in the NWCFL, having been laterally moved over with Stafford and Brocton from the Midlands League, they will host Eccleshall in the A50 derby on the opening day. Elsewhere, Wythenshawe Amateurs open their season with a home game against Barnton whilst Cammell Laird 1907 welcome Cheadle Heath Nomads at Kirklands. Alsager Town and West Didsbury and Chorlton will both fancy their chances this campaign and have recruited strongly, they go head-to-head on the opening day at the Wood Park Stadium.
Looking a bit further on, in midweek, Maine Road and Wythenshawe Amateurs face off on Monday 2nd August in a tight start for those clubs. Also playing their second game in three days will be Stockport Town and West Didsbury and Chorlton as they meet at the Sports Village.
On Tuesday 3rd Abbey Hulton host Rocester, Lairds host Ellesmere Rangers and Stafford Town welcome Alsager Town. New Mills will welcome Cheadle Heath Nomads to Church Lane and St Martins are due to travel to Sandbach.
All around the three divisions there are a number of new rivalries, clubs that are looking to make a real impact, some big names knocking about and one or two old rivalries renewed. One thing is for sure, as we head into the season which will take the NWCFL into it’s 40th Anniversary there is something really special on offer despite uncertainty about pandemics, jabs and borders. Let’s look forward to what we hope will be a full season in any way, shape or form and we can all get back to watching football, meeting friends and cheering on our respective teams.
We’ll see you there!