The Coalfields Cup Cricket Competition is scheduled to start this weekend, with once again the five first grade teams from Singleton District and five first grade teams from Cessnock District combining for one full round of competition.
Last season was the competition's inaugural year, and was run over one full round on a trial basis, with the proposal to go to two full rounds this season.
Unfortunately, COVID delayed the start of the competition this year and only left enough weeks to play one full round, but a new six-team semi-final format has been implemented to create extra interest at the business end of the season.
Bellbird won the competition last season, and with clubs busy retaining and recruiting players in the off season, here is a sneak preview of what to expect this season:
Last Season: Premiers (Coalfields Cup), Runner-Up (CDCA)
Captain: Joey Main
Premierships: Twelve (1930-31, joint 1991-92, 1995-96, 1997-98, 1998-99, 2001-02, 2006-07, 2009-10, joint 2012-13, joint 2013-14, 2014-15, 2020-21 [CoalfieldsCup]).
Strongest Line-Up: Pete Brennan, Jason Orr, Ben Fairlie, Joey Main, Rob Drage, Nic Seirs, Matt Shreiber, Joey Millington, Joey Barber, Billy Orr, Scott Miller, Zach Kronholm.
Last Season: 9th (Coalfields Cup), 4th (SDCA)
Captain: Blake Cook
Premierships: Seven (1993-94, 2004-05, 2009-10, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2015-16, 2016-17)
Gains: Nathan Stapleford (Newcastle University), Mark Unicomb, Steve Unicomb, Chris Unicomb (Muswellbrook Souths).
Strongest Line-Up: Myles Cook, Chris Unicomb, Clint Harmon, Bayden Mulholland, Steve Unicomb, Nathan Stapleford, Gavin Wake, Warren Gillespie, Jarrod Campbell, Blake Cook, Daniel Tracey, Mark Unicomb.
Last Season: 8th (Coalfields Cup), 3rd (SDCA)
Captain: Jack Turner
Premierships: Six (1992-93, 1994-95, 1995-96, 2000-01, 2011-12, 2014-15)
Losses: Tom Stacy, Scott Griffiths.
Strongest Line-Up: Spencer Brian, Beau Parnell, Daniel Higgins, Jack Turner, Antony Bailey, Cael Smith, Pat Fitzgerald, Drew Nelson, Max Willis, Ben Butler, Cooper Bailey, Ollie Gunn.
Last Season: 3rd (Coalfields Cup), Premiers (CDCA)
Captain: Joey Butler
Premierships: Four (2004-05, 2007-08, joint 2013-14, 2020-21).
Gains: Jace Lawson (Belmont), Eddie Fisher, David Condran (both returning).
Losses: Kyle Hall, Hayden Regan.
Strongest Line-Up: Joey Butler, Mark Bercini, Nathan Holz, Josh Dagg, Jace Lawson, Reuben Andrews, Greg Andrews, Cliff Newling, Darren Thomson, Will Regan, Brent Watson, Patrick Andrews.
Last Season: 10th (Coalfields Cup), 5th (SDCA)
Captain: Stuart Johnstone
Premierships: One (2006-07).
Gains: Brandon Carman (local junior), Mathew Sidebottom (Newcastle C S)
Losses: Matt Parish
Strongest Line-Up: Ashley Borg, Brandon Carman, Kye Dann, Luke Dempster, Shane Givney, Stuart Johnstone, Andrew Knox, Dave Moorcroft, Hayden Moorcroft, Mathew Sidebottom, Alex Thrift, Daniel Thrift, Greg Thrift.
Last Season: 5th (Coalfields Cup), 3rd (CDCA)
Captain: Ben Neaves
Premierships: Fourteen (1971-72, 1992-93, 1994-95, 2002-03, 2003-04, 2005-06, 2010-11, 2011-12, joint 2012-13, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20).
Gains: Hilal Abbas (Bellbird), Willie Whitelaw (returning)
Losses: Aaron Halls, Jason Varoxis
Strongest Line-Up: Ben Neaves, Cameron Ross, Josh Lewis, Zach Sneesby, Scott Robertson, Drew Olsen, Mick Mascord, Hilal Abbas, Chad Lewis, Adam Sheehan, Willie Whitelaw, Willie Watson.
Last Season: 7th (Coalfields Cup), Premiers (CDCA)
Captain: Jackson Cox
Premierships: Seven (1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99, 1999-00, 2001-02, 2018-19, 2020-21).
Gains: Brad Cox (returning), Pat Denniss (returning),
Losses: Andrew Winsor, Glen Winsor.
Strongest Line-Up: Brad Cox, Pat Denniss, Jackson Cox, Jake Mackaway, Abe Jones, Hugh Smith, Danuel Bell, Jake Daniels, Dan Oldknow, Jack Shade, Barton Jones, Don Keys.
Last Season: 6th (Coalfields Cup), 5th (CDCA)
Captain: Matt Hopley
Premierships: Seven (1970-71, 1972-73, 1973-74, 1977-78, 1979-80, 1980-81, 1983-84).
Gains: Matt Metcalfe (returning), Nathan King (Mulbring), Ben Duncan (Kurri-Weston.
Losses: Matt Zechel, Daniel Russell, Adam Sable (all Kurri-Weston), Michael Philpott (Maitland Norths), Bailey Robinson, Tyson Johnson, Matt Brodie
Strongest Line-Up: Matt Hopley, Aaron Sweeney, Mark Crowfoot, Fletcher Sharpe, Nathan King, Matt Metcalfe, Karandeep Maramreddy, Ben Duncan, James Collins, Luke Sweeney, Ben Read, Dane Grills.
Last Season: Runner-up (Coalfields Cup) Runner-up (SDCA)
Captain: Isaac Barry
Premierships: Seven (2002-03, 2003-04, 2005-06, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2017-18)
Losses: Daniel Bray, Tully Winsor
Strongest Line-Up: Nathan Bagnal, Jacob Carey, Isaac Barry, Daniel Storey, Simon White, Brendon Nichols, Daniel Hayes, Tristan Muir, Brad Maher, Sam Barry, Tate Edwards.
WINE COUNTRY (Cessnock)
Last Season: 4th (Coalfields Cup), 4th (CDCA)
Captain: Andrew Fensom
Premierships: Thirteen as Wentworth Hotel (1958-59, 1962-63, 1966-67, 1967-68,1968-69, 1969-70, 1982-83, 1984-85, 1985-86, 1989-90, 1990-91, joint 1991-92, 1996-97).
Gains: Steve Abel (Kurri-Weston)
Losses: Jack Morris
Strongest Line-Up: Andrew Fensom, Mark O'Hara, Matt Lightfoot, Rob Sidebottom, Sam Peacock, Josh Dwyer, Ben Wood, Hudson Smith, Brendan Briedenhann, Luke Jeans, John Barrett, Steve Abel.