Golcar United and Emley AFC kick off the new season with both clubs looking to challenge at the top end of the Northern Counties East League Premier Division. 

The Weavers launch their campaign at home to Penistone Church on Saturday (July 29). Golcar finished 9th last campaign whilst their opponents finished in 5th spot.

The two West Yorkshire clubs go head to head at the Skye Direct Stadium on Saturday at 3pm. Meanwhile Emley face an equally tough test away at Maltby Main. The Pewits finished in 3rd whilst their rivals finished in 13th.

The two sides also clashed in the Sheffield and Hallamshire County Cup Final back in May, with Emley winning 2-0. The game at Maltby also kicks off at 3pm. 

Emley’s first five games include home games against Garforth Town and Hallam. They travel to Eccleshill and Bottesford Town as well as that opening game with Maltby. 

Meanwhile Golcar travel to Handsworth and Knaresborough in their first five games and have home fixtures facing Albion Sports and Rossington Main as well as the opening day fixture against Penistone. 

The two sides will meet for the first HD postcode derby at Golcar on November 18 with the second fixture being away at Emley on the final day of the season which has been provisionally booked for April 6 2024.

Golcar beat Huddersfield Town under-19s with a 20-minute hat-trick from striker Buddy Cox. Scroll through our gallery of images by Huddersfield Hub photographer SEAN DOYLE

On the campaign ahead Golcar joint boss Ash Connor said: “We are excited that the season is about to begin. We want to improve on our position from last season and especially challenge those top five clubs. Making the play-offs is our aim. 

“Pre-season has gone well and we have put in some good performances. The results don’t mean much but I’m happy with how the players have performed.

“We are hoping to get off to a good start. Last season we didn’t start well but turned it around in the second half of the campaign. This season I want to see us starting well. If we can continue our form from the second half of last season and have that for all of this season we should be somewhere near.”

On recruitment, Connor added: “I’m happy with who we have recruited – Sam Kelly, the goalkeeper from Emley AFC, Oliver Willitts, a centre midfielder from Holmbridge, Ollie Russon, a centre midfielder from Goole, Jordan Spencer, a left-sided winger from Yorkshire Amateurs, and Alfie Gibbons, a defender from Yorkshire Amateurs too.

“We’ve added some good quality to the great squad we already had, so let’s hope we get off to a quick start.”

Connor says some clubs have invested heavily but that’s not the Golcar way. “We are relatively new still at this level and so need to do things differently,” he said. “Teams like Hallam, Penistone, Silsden and Emley will be up there based on their recruitment.”

On Penistone Church, Golcar’s first opponents, Connor said: “Penistone are a good, solid team who we have now played quite a bit. They are a big strong unit who like to be physical so we know it’s going to be a really tough game.”

Golcar United v Emley AFC

Over at the Fantastic Media Welfare Ground, Emley gaffer Richard Tracey is also looking forward to the season and said: “In the ideal scenario promotion is the aim.

“We believe we had a good side last season and have strengthened but we have to produce and perform as nobody is going to roll over and allow you three points this season. 

“The competition has improved in quality. Silsden have recruited well, and there are numerous teams like us who have their eyes set on the top five and the chance to get promoted. It’s going to be a really tough season and very competitive.

“We feel we’ve recruited and strengthened the squad, although we’ve probably had more than initially planned through the door.

“However, adding quality throughout the squad should help us. Up front we’ve added Ruben Jerome, Nathan Curtis and brought back James Walshaw. In midfield we’ve added Tom Haigh and Will Norcross whilst strengthening our defensive options with Charlie Barks and Jack Cowgill.

“We’ve had a good pre-season and we’re really pleased overall. With pre-season done we can’t wait to get going now and hopefully set off on the right foot at Maltby with three points.”

Emley chairman Andrew Painten added: “The success of last season, coupled with the strength we’ve added to an already quality squad, gives me great hope we can go one better this time around. 

“We’re ready off the pitch for the next level so now we have to back the management and players to deliver on the field. As usual there will be ups and downs along the way but that’s football and that’s why we love it.”