Champs on travels for starters

The 2011-2012 season will be a hard act to follow for Ovenden WR, who start their West Riding County Amateur League title defence away to Littletown on Wednesday.

Danny Megson’s side not only won the Premier Division in the last campaign but added the league cup and the Halifax FA Saturday Cup for good measure.

Mick Palethorpe has retired and Liam Brompton and Chris Gent have gone to Stump Cross.

However, Ovenden have signed Ryan Farrell, Scott Eastwood and the returning Steve Senior.

Ovenden will have to make their mark on their travels because eight of their first nine league games are away.

That is partly due to the over-running refurbishment work on the Natty Lane changing rooms, which will now not be available until September 15.

Halifax Irish, who were due to be relegated to Division Two, have kept their place in the higher section and start their Division One programme at Lower Hopton on Wednesday.

Manager Chris Ellerby has high hopes his side can take full advantage of the reprieve, which comes following the demotion of Dudley Hill Athletic and Bay Athletic Reserves.

The league took that action following close scrutiny of a game between the pair.

Irish have been busy recruiting and Ellerby said his line-up was the club’s “best in years.”

“We have a completely different squad and the average age of the side has been reduced by five years. It is a passing-football side.”

Although long-serving centre back Richard Clarke has retired, striker Gareth Gaukroger has goes to Holmfield in the Halifax AFL and Callum Cook faces a long spell on the sidelines, Ellerby is excited by his new captures.

They include Damien Southwell and Alex Austin from Shelley, Jordan Wadsworth, last season’s Yorkshire under 18s captain Louis Harris, striker Gary Ash from Copley and Gareth Sherwood from Stump Cross.

Irish complete their preparations against Holmfield at West Vale tomorrow (12.0).