Season 2012 Preview
With just 5 days to until Round 1 we preview each team’s chances for season 2012:
After a challenging first season in the league last year Wolverhampton look to be the big improvers of 2012. With the youngest team in the competition their locally grown talent look to have made giant leaps this year. The Movember Cup was their first big test and put in a couple of very encouraging performances against Sheffield and Manchester. The Wolverines also competed well in the Pre-season Cup but had the disadvantage of lack of players on the day. They showed what they are capable of with a blistering second half against last years premiers Nottingham and are certainly capable of climbing the ladder this year.
Season 2011 was a strong one for Sheffield. They were sitting in second place in the league for most of the season but had a disappointing loss in the final round to Huddersfield which knocked them out of a grand final place on percentage. The Thunder will enter the season full of confidence after a strong showing in the Movember Cup in which they defeated eventual winner Leeds. Sheffield then had a near-faultless display at the Pre-season Cup, winning all their games before going down to Manchester in a tight final. Expect to see Sheffield around the top of the ladder come finals time.
One of the powerhouses of English football, Nottingham had a dominant 2011 ending a fine season by winning the Grand Final over Huddersfield. Despite losing some key players this year Nottingham will still be one of the teams to beat. Although they had an unsuccessful Pre-season Cup the Scorpions were short of numbers but still put up a good show. With a squad of skillful and physical players Nottingham will again be looking to that second Saturday in August.
Runaway winners in 2010, season 2011 was a tough one for the Mosquitoes. Their season never really clicked into gear but wins in the final two games gave them a positive end to a tough year. Entering 2012 Manchester have the largest squad in the competition and some very ominous form after going through the Pre-season Cup undefeated. A second placing in the highly competitive Haggis Cup in Edinburgh was a confidence boost for the Mozzies and they look to be hitting Round 1 full of momentum. Manchester look to be the team to beat this year.
The new boys of the Central and Northern England League, Leeds are the big unknown. They made the perfect start by winning the Movember Cup. A strong win in the Cup against a tough Manchester side shows that Leeds have the potential be one of the teams to beat in 2012. A couple of injuries hasn’t helped their pre-season but they’ll hit Round 1 against Sheffield full of confidence. If they can keep a full squad together throughout the season Leeds can go all the way.
At half-time at last year’s Grand Final the Rams were looking the goods to win their first premiership. Unfortunately for the Rams a stronger Nottingham side overran them in the third quarter, something which Huddersfield will have not forgotten during their tough pre-season. Huddersfield boast a strong squad this year including some talented players from the now defunct North-East League. The Rams competed well in the Pre-season Cup but were struck down by a spate of injuries to key players. After finishing third in 2010 and second in 2011 the Rams will be looking for the ultimate glory in 2012. By the look of their squad they are a strong chance to do so.
After an unlucky campaign in 2011 when they lost 3 games by under 2 goals Birmingham will again be looking to give the league a shake this year. With the university year ending before the final few rounds the Bears will be keen to prevent a late-season fadeout like last season. With only a threadbare squad Birmingham performed exceptionally well in the Pre-season Cup, defeating last years Grand Finalists Nottingham and Huddersfield. A Round 1 derby against their West Midlands rivals Wolverhampton will be the perfect test to see how their season will fare in 2012.