PREVIEW: Edinburgh begin Northern League title defence

The Northern League season begins on Sunday with all nine member clubs in action.

Reigning Division 1 champions, Edinburgh, begin their title defence with a trip to Northumbria.

The highlight of the day though will be the debut of the new Fife team, who are at home to Hull and staging a double header with Glasgow also taking on Hull at the Dunfermline circuit.

Elsewhere, Bury take on Sheffield, with Stockport hosting a Greater Manchester derby fixture against Astley & Tyldesley.

Changes voted in by clubs at the winter AGM have resulted in a new race formula for Division 1 matches. All matches will be raced over 18 heats but using the old six rider test match formula with teams permitted to use up to four optional reserves in a match.

This formula adds flexibility by recognizing that some teams struggle to field more than six riders on occasions, whilst others have had to leave riders out under the rigid eight rider format.

The League continues to run three divisions, with riders eligibility for Division 2 matches determined by a committee sub-group and Division 3 matches restricted to under 13 riders.

The League will again host a Fours League and Junior League along with a full day’s programme of Individual Championships plus a Senior and Junior Knock-Out Cup day.

Jason Burke stepped down as Chairman after two years in post, consequently, Mike Hack was voted in as the new Chairman at the AGM with the other Committee members all retaining their posts unopposed.

Perennial strugglers, Heckmondwike, announced their withdrawal from league racing but stated their intention to use 2017 as a rebuilding year with a view of returning to league racing in the future.

Cover photo by George Swanson.