In just a few days time, football returns! Forget the World Cup because Mark Bower’s side will be back in action on Thursday 5th July, taking on eight teams as they prepare for the 2018/19 campaign. Here, you can take an in-depth look at our opponents and find out which dates need to go in your calendar.
There are also four pre-season trophies up for grabs, as Avenue compete for the Donald Bell Trophy, The Tom Banks Trophy, The Yorkshire Rose Cup and The Dallas UK Cup.
Thursday 5th July – Silsden (Away)
7:45pm kick-off / Cobbydale Construction Stadium
Avenue’s pre-season begins with a trip to fellow West Yorkshire side, Silsden. The Cobbydalers were crowned champions of the North West Counties League Division One last season, and were guided to the title by former Avenue winger Danny Forrest. The 33-year-old made 50 appearances for hometown club Bradford City as a player, before enjoying spells with Crawley Town, Barrow, Guiseley, Harrogate Town and Gainsborough Trinity. He will be a familiar face to many, having representing Avenue during the 2013-14 season whilst John Deacey was in charge. Forrest scooped the NWCFL Division One Manager of the Year award recently, and his Silsden side will provide stern competition in the opening fixture. They have already began preparing their squad for the new season, recently swooping for former Avenue defender Lee Spires.
Saturday 7th July – Hemsworth Miners Welfare (Away)
12:30pm kick-off / The Fitzwilliam Stadium
Mark Bower’s side will visit the 2,000-capacity Fitzwilliam Stadium for Avenue’s second pre-season friendly. Hemsworth are managed by Wayne Benn, a former player and coach at the Horsfall. His Hemsworth side finished 6th in the NCEL Premier Division last season, having earned promotion from the NCEL Division One in 2016.
Thursday 12th July – Mansfield Town (Home)
7:45pm kick-off / Horsfall Stadium
League Two side Mansfield Town will provide the opposition on our return to the Horsfall Stadium. The Stags finished 8th in the fourth tier last season, missing out on the play-offs by three points. The charismatic Steve Evans vacated the Field Mill hotseat in February 2018 and was replaced by former Barnsley, Bury and Swindon Town boss David Flitcroft. Flitcroft is now tasked with preparing for his first full season in charge. He has been active in the early stages of the transfer window, recruiting centre-back Matt Preston from Swindon Town and agreeing terms with former Scunthorpe United midfielder Neal Bishop.
Saturday 14th July – Yorkshire Regiment (Home) – The Donald Bell Trophy
3pm kick-off / Horsfall Stadium
Avenue will battle it out with the Yorkshire Regiment’s footballing representatives for the Donald Bell Trophy. The fixture has been arranged in both celebration and remembrance of Donald Simpson Bell, who became the first footballer to be awarded the Victoria Cross. Before enlisting in the army and joining the West Yorkshire Regiment, Bell played professionally with Avenue after signing for the club in 1912.
Wednesday 18th July – Bradford City (Home) – Tom Banks Trophy
7:30pm kick-off / Horsfall Stadium
Neighbours Bradford City will visit the Horsfall on 18th July, looking for revenge after a humiliating 3-0 defeat in last year’s Tom Banks Trophy match. Former Scotland international Stuart McCall was in charge at Valley Parade during the last meeting between the two sides but was dismissed in February 2018 after a run of six consecutive defeats. He was replaced by former Leeds United manager Simon Grayson, but he didn’t renew his deal with the club in May and subsequently departed after just three months. The club subsequently brought in academy coach Michael Collins as Head Coach, whilst appointing former Avenue boss Martin Drury as assistant alongside Greg Abbott. Head of Recruitment Abbott has brought in several players in the early stages of the window, including young defenders Joe Riley and Thomas Isherwood from Manchester United and Bayern Munich. Midfielder Josh Wright has also arrived from Southend United alongside goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell, who joins from Northampton Town. All could feature against Avenue in what is sure to be an entertaining evening for both sets of supporters.
Saturday 21st July – Campion (Away)
12pm kick-off / Scotchman Road
The short trip to Scotchman Road will be Avenue’s final away fixture of pre-season. The Manningham-based side are managed my James Bicknell, who is assisted by Hayden Lobley and Paul Waites. They finished 9th in Division One of the NCEL last season and will be looking to play in front of a sizable Bradford crowd as they host their non-league counterparts.
Wednesday 25th July – Huddersfield Town Academy (Home) – The Yorkshire Rose Cup
7:45pm kick-off / Horsfall Stadium
Premier League side Huddersfield Town will bring a side comprised of players from their under-17 and under-19 teams to the Horsfall on 25th July. The Terriers’ academy has produced a string of players who have made first-team appearances in recent years, including Denmark under-21 international Phillip Billing, who now features regularly in the top flight under David Wagner. Their youth set-up is led by several well-known figures, including former Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United, Watford and Leeds United defender Leigh Bromby. Several of Town’s academy stars gained experience in non-league last season, spending time on loan with the likes of Liversedge and Brighouse Town. The winner of the game will take home the Yorkshire Rose Cup in a battle between two teams from the county and gives Avenue another shot at summer silverware.
Saturday 28th July – Barrow (Home) – The Dallas UK Cup
3pm kick-off / Horsfall Stadium
Avenue’s final pre-season test comes against Barrow of the National League. The two sides will battle it out for the Dallas UK Cup, which honours the fact that both clubs have owners that reside in Dallas. The Cumbria-based Bluebirds have a new man in the hotseat following the dismissal of former Gillingham boss Adrian Pennock, recently handing Ian Evatt his first permanent role in management. The 36-year-old was in temporary charge of Chesterfield last season, overseeing their relegation to the National League. They narrowly avoided relegation to the second tier of non-league last season, finishing ahead of 21st-placed Woking by a single point. The club will be looking to secure safety much earlier in the season this time round and will provide tough opposition for Mark Bower’s side in their final pre-season friendly.
Information regarding admission prices will be provided closer to the time.