League is all set for the big kick-off

PUBLISHED: 11:50 20 September 2007 | UPDATED: 21:49 29 May 2010

THE Ridley League Title Stakes comes under starter s orders next week, with last year s front-runners missing – and with a few mystery entries to baffle the bar-room bookies. North Section favourites Rayne Cock are thought to have lost a number of their s

THE Ridley League Title Stakes comes under starter's orders next week, with last year's front-runners missing - and with a few mystery entries to baffle the bar-room bookies.

North Section favourites Rayne Cock are thought to have lost a number of their squad, leaving Dunmow Cricketers, now sharing the Flitch Snooker facilities, a hot tip to improve on last season's near-miss. Spared a repeat of their 2006-07 player problems, the Snooker Club, too, will be contenders; Tuesday's opener against their lodgers looks a marker for both teams.

And don't rule out the Chequers, especially with the Horseshoes not competing. If one or two of the Shoes' star men were to throw in their lot with their Felsted neighbours, the Chequers would trouble the best. Their first test, at the Retreat, should be worth watching.

The loss of reigning champions Galleywood Eagle, as well as Chelmsford Social (who, as the New Barn, dominated the previous three seasons) leaves the South Section below strength in numbers and quality, but offers the surviving clubs a chance to make their mark.

The Black Bull and the Swan will aim to take advantage, while Mill Green Cricketers have been recruiting, as have last year's wooden spoonists the Bird in Hand. It would be good to see both clubs more competitive.

However, the most significant developments may be at Melbourne, where the emergence of a Chelmsford City FC side - comprising most of the old White Horse line-up ­- provoked such interest among the locals that a second City team was confirmed within 72 hours last week, bringing the South Section up to six.

The inter-CCFC battle will be intriguing; the White Horse were third last season (though way off the pace), and have added to their strength - but their stablemates include some real quality, with regular availability the only doubt.

If they last the course, they could be the dark horses in this year's race. Again, the first-week fixtures may give a clue.

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