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We're buzzing - Hopes high for League success.

Byline: Anthony Vickers

Stokesley start life in the Northern League with an eagerly anticipated home encounter with Hebburn.

The ambitious outfit earned a pyramid promotion to division two after finishing second in the Wearside League last year.

"The whole club is buzzing," said boss Ted Watts. "In the five years I've been here we've won eight cups but there has never been the incredible interest we've had since moving up.

"We've got new committee men, some new sponsors and we've even been selling season-tickets. We are hoping for a big crowd and we want to entertain them."

Ted believes his side have what it takes to flourish in the league and is tipping a top half finish.

Relegated THORNABY also start at home, hosting an Esh Winning side who came down with them.

After a season that imploded, Thornaby finished sixth bottom in a late rally but were demoted when arson-hit Teesdale Park failed a ground inspection.

"We are starting again really," said boss Steve Todd. "After last year we just need a season of stability on and off the pitch.

"That said, we have brought in some good players so we might surprise a few people."

Elsewhere in division two NORTON begin what they hope will be a promotion bid at home to fellow contenders Penrith.

The Ancients finished seventh last term after a costly opening run of ten without a win and hope to get off to a flyer this time.

"We have added top flight experience now and if we get a good start we will be up there," said chairman Ray Morton.

MARSKE are also targeting a promotion spot as they start away at relegated Brandon.

Boss Charlie Bell started his preparations for a top flight return midway through last term as he brought back some old faces and added to his squad over the summer.

"It will be tough as there are some strong sides but we will be looking to be up there," he said.

GUISBOROUGH start a season of rebuilding at North Shields.

Last term the Priorymen had three managers, used over 50 players and almost folded, but boss Andy Toman steadied the ship while the off the pitch structure has been overhauled.

BILLINGHAM TOWN launch what could be a top flight title bid away at Ashington.

Town finished fourth last term playing attractive but have fine-tuned the squad and added midfield steel in the shape of Andy Harbron and replaced frontman Jamie Clarke with Nathan Jameson, who was at Darlington last year.

The players are fitter than ever and bursting with confidence. "We asked the lads to set their own target this year and they told us they are aiming to win it," said boss Michael Watson. "It's a big ask but we'll give it a shot."

BILLINGHAM SYNTHONIA could also be contenders after beefing up over the summer,

They have signed former Boro and Eire defender Curtis Fleming and ex-Darlington man Simon Shaw to add nous to a team that suffered some sucker punches against strugglers last year.

"We have a good balance now," said boss Stuart Coleby. "We can compete with anyone."
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Title Annotation:Sport Football
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Aug 11, 2006
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