THE Carlsberg West Cheshire League kicks off a new season this weekend and Cammell Laird seem determined to dominate it.
Kevin Davies, Phil Greenhalgh, Craig Nall, Kevin Thompson and goalkeeper Dave Farr have arrived from last season's champions Vauxhall Reserves and they have been joined by Christleton's Paul Hollyfield and Poulton Vics' Andy Pugh, who will be a late starter having broken his ankle in a pre-season friendly.
A number of Liverpool-based players have been recruited by manager Ian Doran as Lairds sound a warning they intend to improve on last season, which brought only Cheshire FA Amateur Cup success.
Following the exodus of key players, it will be interesting to see if Vauxhall Reserves can still offer a title challenge or become another Christleton, who were 2002 champions but struggled against relegation last season after losing several players.
Newly-promoted West Kirby, who rounded off a fine season by lifting the Wirral FA Senior Cup, boast true potential and have bolstered their squad with strikers Steve Keogh (Vauxhall) and Chris Barrow (Mallaby).
After winning the Pyke Cup for the first time and seeing their reserves finish as Division Three champions, Ashville could prove to be the surprise package as Division One is restored to its full complement of 16 clubs.
Division Two champions Poulton Vics Reserves are likely to be given a run for their money from Wirral Amateur Cup and West Cheshire Bowl winners Cammell Laird Reserves, who are certain to provide strong back-up for their first team.
The league starts tonight with Castrol Social at home to Heswall in Division One, Christleton Reserves against Upton AA in Division Two and New Brighton Reserves against Shaftesbury in Division Three.
* In the Bill Weight Trophy semi-finals, Vauxhall Motors beat Ashville 2-1 and Cammell Laird beat Poulton Vics 2-1.
The final is scheduled for September 10 at a venue to be announced.
Malpas start their Mid-Cheshire League campaign tomorrow with a second division game at newcomers Gamesley from the Glossop area.
Manager Tommy Lloyd is expecting a hard season with the division strengthened by reserve teams from Winsford, Nantwich and Witton.
He has boosted his squad by signing striker Ben Briscoe from Northwich reserves and local teenager Rob Clarke, brother of central defender Tim Clarke.
Last season's top scorer Stuart Musgrave has missed pre-season games because of work commitments, but he is expected to be involved tomorrow and Lloyd hopes Malpas schoolteacher Mark Lindley will soon be available as he recovers from a groin injury.
Malpas's first home game is against Lostock on Wednesday (6.30).
* Vauxhall Motors kick-off the new UniBond season at Lancaster City tomorrow on the back of a 2-1 friendly victory at Christleton on Tuesday, with goals by Peter Cumiskey and Terry Fearns, with Matty Woodward hitting an equaliser for the hosts.
On Saturday, the Motormen went down 2-1 at Newcastle Town where Terry Fearns was on target.