England: EHL 2023/24 Curtain Raiser: After the Premier Division, Twelve Other Divisions Get Underway Tomorrow

In Women’s Division One South, the standout fixture is Southgate v Holcombe. The home team earned promotion from Conference East last season whilst the visitors start their journey to reclaim their place in the top-flight after relegation at the end of last season. The other newcomers, Team Bath Buccaneers, who won the Conference West in 2022-23 face a tough test at Surbiton 2s.

Relegated Buckingham open their Division One North campaign with a trip to Sutton Coldfield. Conference Midlands winners Olton & West Warwicks, who return to the Division after a season’s absence, host last year’s runners-up Stourport.  Wakefield, who won Conference North, have a Yorkshire derby against Ben Rhydding who avoided the drop after a strong late end of season run-in.

In Women’s Conference East, newly promoted Old Loughtonians (East) and Teddington (London) meet and the other newcomers Old Georgians (South East) travel to East London. Guildford, who missed out on promotion after a last day loss at Southgate, host Hampstead & Westminster 2s. Hampstead start the season on -2 points following a player eligibility infringement at the end of last season.

Last season’s Conference Midlands was a very tight league with only nine points separating 2nd and 9th. Runners-up University of Birmingham 2s go to Bedford and relegated Cambridge City travel to Cannock. Repton, who won the Midlands League, start with a local derby against Belper. Doncaster, who switch from the North Conference entertain Beeston 2s.

Promoted Newcastle University (Yorkshire NE) take on fellow newcomers Bowdon 2s (North West) in their first EHL game in Conference North. Pendle Forest and Didsbury Northern, who finished 2nd and 3rd, six points behind champions Wakefield, face each other. Relegated Brooklands Poynton start their campaign with the visit of Fylde and Leeds who also dropped down from Division One North travel to Durham University 2s. 

South Central League winners Fareham start life in Conference West with a trip to relegated Witney who return to the Division after winning it two seasons ago. Clifton Robinsons 2s also return after a season’s absence in the West League and travel to Oxford Hawks. There’s a new name in the Division, Exeter, a merger of EHL team Exe and East Devon HC.

In the Men’s league, last year’s second and third-placed teams, Old Loughtonians and Teddington meet in Division One South on Saturday. Relegated Exeter University make the long trip to Canterbury. The promoted teams Havant and Richmond are both at home, to Team Bath Buccaneers and Sevenoaks respectively.

Division One North runners-up Bowdon will be looking to emulate their women’s team who earned promotion last season. They kick off their campaign at home to the University of Birmingham. Their local rivals Brooklands MU were relegated back to the Division and they host promoted Harborne on Saturday evening. The other promoted side, Leeds, are away at Durham University.

In Conference East, Spencer, who were pipped to the title on goal difference by Richmond, start with a trip to London Wayfarers. There are three promoted teams in the Division – East League champions Ipswich travel to Bromley and Beckenham, Wimbledon 2s (London) host Guildford and Old Georgians 2s (South East) face Surbiton 2s as a prelude to their 1st teams meeting on Saturday.

In Conference Midlands relegated Barford Tigers will be looking to bounce back and start at last year’s runners-up Nottingham University 2s. Stourport, Midlands League winners, who played in the top flight of the inaugural year of the league in 1988, return after 12 seasons’ absence and travel to Harleston Magpies. Newcomers Banbury (South Central) opens with a trip to the City of Peterborough.

Last season’s Conference North runners-up Timperley opens with a game against Beeston 2s. Promoted Lindum (Yorkshire NE) welcome relegated Belper and North West League winners Oxton travel to Sheffield.

Both teams relegated from Division One South are in Conference West. Oxford Hawks travel to Plymouth Marjon and the University of Bristol goes to Isca. Cheltenham returns after a season in the West League and faces a trip to Fareham.   

by England Hockeyl

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