It feels like we waited an age for it but it's here, the 2017/18 Manchester Football League season is finally here and it started with a bang!
A grand total of 94 goals were netted in the 19 scheduled games played although at one point in the day it looked like some could have fallen foul of the weather. That scare was due to the torrential downpours but luckily all the pitches held out.
There was only one place to start and that is at Fox Park where the two champions went head-to-head. Current Premier Division champs Rochdale Sacred Heart hosted last season's Division One title winners Prestwich Heys Reserves and it served up a result many wouldn't have predicted. Heys showed they had plenty in reserve as they went back to Adie Moran Park with all three points following their narrow 2-1 win to shock the home side. Goals from Alfie Belcher and Lee Brude ensured Heys got their campaign off to a winning start.
Avro got off to the best start possible at their new home by edging a five-goal thriller as they came out 3-2 winners against the Hindsford. A healthy attendance witnessed Avro goals from Chris Howell, Callum Jackson and a winning goal from Mason Dunkley at the Vestacare Stadium.
Dukinfield Town were the highest scorers of the day in the top flight as they looked to stroll to a 6-1 win at home to Stockport Georgians. An Andrew Newton hat-trick in addition to a Tyler Devlin goal and a Daniel Parkinson brace see Town top the table after the opening day. Will Wareing was the scorer of Georgians' consolation.
East Manchester were victorious in the Manchester derby with a 3-1 win against Manchester Gregorians thanks to a Sam Jones hat-trick after Harry Kilbride gave the visitors the lead.
Wythenshawe Amateurs also scored three times and left St Johns Street with all three points following their 3-1 win versus Springhead. Danny Egan scored twice plus a Carl Brady effort gave the Ammies a winning start after Ryan Fagan had given Springhead the lead.
Newly-promoted side Heyside got off to a flyer in their first home Premier Division fixture as they ran out 1-0 winners against Old Alts. Mark Hopwood scored the only goal at Crompton House despite his side being reduced to ten men on 50 minutes at 0-0.
The other newly-promoted side Bolton County couldn't follow suit as they fell to a 2-0 defeat at Royton Town. Town's goals came courtesy of Daniel Gilmartin and Saul Ashworth at Oldham Academy North.
In the other fixture of the day it finished honours even as AFC Monton and Walshaw Sports shared four goals and the spoils in a 2-2 draw at New Alder Park. Connor Gately and Dan McHugh were on target for Walshaw while Daniel Brown and Jamie Wolden got the goals for the hosts.
It’s never an accurate indication this early on but Chadderton Reserves won’t mind looking at the league table after their first game as they sit top of the pile thanks to their hammering of Boothstown. The Oldham side ran out 6-1 winners at Bridgewater Park to start their campaign in the best possible way thanks to hat-tricks from Jake Jacobs and Matthew Wilkes.
Chapel Town had an equally impressive start to the season as they travelled to the Barracks to face Westbury Sports and left with all three points following a very decent 5-2 victory. Matthew Sherlock, Josh Wood, Liam Halliday, Tyson Elwin and Zak Ridgeway were on target for Chapel whilst Curtis Bowes and Ben Smith were on the score sheet for the 10-man hosts.
Leigh Athletic came from behind to edge a seven-goal thriller at Chapel Road as they beat Hollinwood 4-3 and collect all the points.
Elton Vale also netted four times as they overcame Manchester Central at Elton Vale Sports Club with a 4-1 victory. Liam Boswell on target with a brace plus further strikes from Carl Lomax and Mark Severs for the hosts while Central's goal came courtesy of a Marcello Ahrin penalty.
Beechfield United left Jubilee Park with all three points after their 2-0 win at Pennington while last season’s Premier Division side Wilmslow Albion were held at home by play-off finalists Atherton Town as they drew 2-2 at Oakwood Farm. Matt Jackson and Tommy Williams were on target for the visitors with the latter coming in the final minutes to snatch a point.
Manchester Football League newcomers Tintwistle Athletic look to have gotten into the groove of things quite quickly as they defeated fellow newbies Hindley Juniors with a resounding 6-3 score line. Goals from Tom Burns, James Crossland, Ryan McNee, Chris Rathburn and a Josh Stevenson brace ensured a successful start to life in the MFL. Hindley's goals came courtesy of Taylor Cain and a Tom Jackson brace.
Atherton LR Development will have to wait another week to get off the mark after they suffered a 5-2 defeat to Uppermill in their debut in the Manchester Football League. Danny Gartside (2), Lee Rainford, Sam Flanagan and Aiden Stephenson were all on target at Churchill Playing Fields to give their side a winning start.
Altrincham Hale got their first three points of the season as they faced Radcliffe Juniors at Blessed Thomas High School. The hosts ran out 4-2 winners to leave the MFL newcomers empty handed on their way back to Cams Lane. Richard Vogt, Steven Reid and a brace from Sam Acton gave Hale a winning start. It was a similar fate for Bolton Lads and Girls Club on their MFL debut as they were beaten 4-1 by Breightmet United at Moss Park.
Heywood St James started where they left off last season as they collected all three points following a comfortable 4-1 win against Govan Athletic at Platt Lane. Goals from James Conroy, Lamar Harrison, Martin Love and Charlie Minshull gave Jimmies their opening day victory. David Roddy got Govan's consolation goal.
Tuesday 15th August
Heyside v East Manchester
Hindsford v AFC Monton
Prestwich Heys Reserves v Bolton County
Rochdale Sacred Heart v Royton Town
Springhead v Dukinfield Town
Stockport Georgians v Wythenshawe Amateurs
Wednesday 16th August
Avro v Walshaw Sports
Old Alts Manchester Gregorians
All midweek games are 6.30pm kick off