TONY Lowery and Keith Perry know all about managing in local football and they’ve been entrusted with the task of trying to recapture the glory days at Bedlington Terriers.
The Welfare Park club won the championship for five consecutive seasons between 1997 and 2002 but the last six years have proved barren.
“We returned to the club during last season when they were in grave danger of being relegated but we managed to stay in the top flight winning four of our last five games,” observed Lowery.
Since then, the management pair have set about restructuring the squad bringing in quality players with experience.
Perhaps their most notable signing is Scott Bell from Blyth Spartans but he misses today’s opener against Sunderland Nissan.
Other newcomers include brothers Colin and Kevin Morton, Scott Robinson, Lee Ludlow, John Milner, Andy Watson, Michael Fenwick, John Sunderland and Scott Milne.
“I reckon Bell, Ludlow and Tony Shandran will be the most potent strikeforce in the league and both Keith and I are looking forward to better times for the club,” added Lowery.
Its all change too at Sunderland Nissan who won all six pre-season friendlies.
They enticed Brian Rowe to move from Whitley Bay and also lined up Ian Davison (Durham City) Paul Collins (Billingham Synthonia), Andy Appleby and Chris Bell (Seaham Redstar) together with Andy Chapman and Stuart Banks from Billingham Town.
“We challenged for honours until late in the season but then fell away badly. Manager Wilf Constantine is hopeful that a stronger pool of players will take us one step up the ladder,” said secretary Rob Jones.
The game of the day this afternoon could be between Newcastle Benfield Bay Plastics and Dunston Federation who have been active on the transfer front.
Benfield boss Paddy Aktinson has lined up Scott Donaldson and Scott Emmerson from Chester-le-Street and Andy Dougdale (Whitley Bay). In addition, the former Sunderland and Darlington player Paddy Collins has returned from Thailand.
Atkinson said: “We enjoyed a great pre-season and the atmosphere in the dressing room is first class. We ended fourth top last time and I want to push on.”
His opposite number at Dunston Federation, Perry Briggs, is anxious for his side to improve on last season’s sixth-place finish.
His new signings are Barry Poskett (Morpeth Town), Michael Hedley and Richard Logan (Blyth Spartans), John Rattle (Seaham Redstar), Andy Bulford (Rtyon) and David Wells, who has played for both Billingham Synthonia and Sunderland Nissan.
Ashington, who languished too near the bottom for most of last season, start against newly promoted South Shields without midfielder Gary Cook who could be out for six weeks through injury. Additionally, manager Andy Gowens must reckon without striker Alan Hogg.
Ryton are also promoted and at home to Bishop Auckland have Ben Starforth, Craig Marron, Glen Ray and Tony Healer coming into contention.
“Who would have thought three years ago that Ryton would be hosting Bishops – one of the world famous amateur clubs,” enthused official Steve Murray.
West Allotment Celtic go to Billingham Town minus Danny Anderson.