NOT HAVING kicked a ball since the middle of March, teams from the shoestrings-chargrill Chippenham Sunday League will kick-off its 55th season this coming weekend which will be like no other season any of us have ever experienced before.

A chorus of referees’ whistles will signal the start of matches that will be played under strict Covid-19 rules, supporters will be welcome, but have to adhere to the government’s Test & Trace guidelines.

Week One of the fixtures has thrown up a number of mouth-watering clashes, with one of the biggest games being at Biddestone Sports Ground, where the newly reformed Corsham Wildcats who were the top flight champions in 2018 host FC Lacock who were sitting top on the pile when the season was curtailed on the 17th March and will want to put an early marker down against a team that are likely to be one of their main challengers for the Premier Division title.

Bromham who suffered a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Semington the last time the teams met will be hoping that they can reverse that score line when the teams lock horns at Little Marsh, and if pre-season friendlies are anything to go by, the Owls will be leaving Semington with an opening day win to avenge their previous defeat.

A run of six successive victories took North Star Club to the summit of Division one back in March, although they may not have been guaranteed a top two, finish they find themselves in the top flight where the will welcome Bath Road to Beversbrook for what promises to be an interesting contest as Bath Road ended the campaign dropping 1 point from a possible 15.

Forest Community Centre (formerly New Inn Wacker) who have had a very quiet pre-season welcome local rivals FC Pilot (formerly The Foresters Arms) to Bowmans Court for what could be a thriller. Pilot won the corresponding fixture last season 4-1 and with a clutch of new players manager Graham Griffiths will be confident the visitors will again claim bragging rights over their hosts.

Following the withdrawal of Lion & Fiddle, AFC Melksham with Dave Jenkins now at the helm will have to wait a week before starting the season by entertaining North Star Club.

Having won all their 16 league matches last term, Royal Oak will feel that they were robbed of the Division two title last season, the Oak men will be among the favourites to claim the First Division winners crown. The Market Lavington based side travel to Sutton Benger for their opener and it would be a huge surprise if they didn't pick up maximum points from their trip to Benger.

Chippenham Icons and Biddestone who share the ground at Leafy Lane go head-to-head and if things go as expected should see the Icons open their account for the new season with a win. Biddestone will have others ideas and with a few new players to pick from could well get something from what should be a closely contested game.

Kingfisher are on the road at Lavis FC and with the hosts manager Aaron Latchem expecting great things from his team this season the Fishermen may be in for a torrid time against a very (on paper that is) strong looking Lavis side.

Old Road and Beeches FC who as Westbury Railway clashed on the opening day of last season, will line up again for this terms opener. Points were share a year ago following a 1-1 draw and it wouldn’t be a surprise if honours ended even once again, however due to their crop of new arrivals Beeches may sneak a win.

The remaining fixture sees Bremhill View who were in the second division last term take on Sporting Box. The Calne based hosts look to be well equipped for the challenge ahead of them and should prove hard for not just Sporting Box but other challengers to beat this term, especially if top scorer Tom Sigee who bagged 17 goals in just 11 matches last term can hit the ground running.

Three new teams, or should that be reformed teams have entered the league this season and all with start in Division Two and all are in action on Sunday morning. Fox & Hounds (Warminster) who were in the Bath League last term are expected to vying for top spot will travel to local rivals Warminster Athletic. With most of the players they previously had when in the league a couple of years ago, Fox & Hounds should take maximum points in what could be a high scoring win.

Fellow newcomers The Castle, who have a number of players from their Premier division winning team from 2014 are away at Spartak Rudloe and with what is an experienced looking squad the visitors to Vallens Terrace, Box are favourites to take all 3 points back to Devizes.

Calne United return to the league sees them paired with local rivals Calne Athletic who were London Road Inn last season. Both have had interesting pre-seasons with mixed results and the match is hard to call. United are tipped to edge it, but should they underestimate their guests, Athletic may record their first ever opening day league win in 4 years.

FC Libby will be hunting an instant return to division two, Andy Allen’s Melksham based team are on the road at a Steeple Ashton side who will be aiming to inflict the visitors with another pointless start, to what could be another long season for Libby who with a number of new faces could actually upset the odds and take all the points on offer.

The last time FC Devizes United and Misfits met, United hit the Misfits for 16 unanswered goals. With United expected to be one of the top sides this season, their trip to Bromham is expected to yield another high scoring success, which will set them up nicely for what should be a promotion winning campaign.