This week marks the start of the 2018 Northumbria Summer League. The competitions fifth season sees a record 26 teams enter as Benwell Hill seek to defend their crown.
Last year saw a thrilling final between Benwell and Newbiggin settled on points count back, the Division Two outfit’s consistent four overcoming the Premier League quality of Newbiggin’s top two.
Captain Ian Allen said team spirit was the key to their success, and feels that back-to-back titles are not out of reach.
“We were really pleased with last seasons effort, the team played as a team, supporting each other and playing to win.
“It’s quite difficult to keep up the momentum of a winning streak without taking it for granted, the league had some really strong teams.
“The summer league title feels achievable too this year, again it won’t be easy with lots of teams bringing real strong players in from higher leagues then we’re used to.
“All in all, it’s a great atmosphere in our camp.”
They will be hard pressed as both leagues contain 13 teams, with only two from each progressing to the finals weekend.
Many of the teams are stronger than ever with a host of Northumbria Premier League players on show.
League Secretary Colin McNestrie is proud of how the leagues have expanded and feels the more “friendly” nature of the league gives clubs the perfect opportunity to blood new talent.
“The Northumbria Summer Leagues began in 2014 with 12 teams entering in a single division. This was a new venture for Northumbria Squash and has seen an improvement in the number of teams participating every year since, culminating in 26 teams entering this year in two divisions.
“The Summer Leagues are treated as being friendly as opposed to the Winter Leagues and an ideal opportunity for non-league players to sample team squash.
“An interesting feature of the Summer Leagues is that teams are allowed to name their teams rather than just using a number. This year has thrown up some interesting names such as Concangis Romans (Chester-le-street – for those of us that don’t know our Roman forts!!), Sunderland Knight Riders and Boldon Bananas.”