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Well, here it is! The first game of a new season. Welcome to the Horsfall, hopefully with the sun shining and all the excitement that comes with high hopes. Nobody has lost yet, so all to play for!

Back in 1971 we had just been voted out of the old Fourth Division (now League 2) into the NPL and our first game was against Macclesfield!

We nicked it 1-0! Some of today’s crowd were there and the goal scorer (Alan Ham) is still a frequent visitor here, with his grandchildren.

This season both clubs want to move up to the National League North. Avenue want a quick return there, whilst Macc are in a hurry to climb back quickly to regain their EFL place.

I’m not sure there are any easy leagues to win these days and that means every game is vital, even game one, when new teammates are getting to work out how to be at their very best together, as soon as possible.

Macclesfield, with its star support, will start as favourites to win the league. A large fan base and wealthy sponsors give them firm foundations for their ambitions, but it also makes them the team to beat in this league and that’s what we will try to do today!

New kit, new-look shop, new players are important but more goals and more of a winning mentality is critical too, especially after the frustrations of last season. Hopefully our new physio will also help us to avoid lengthy injury lists!

Martin and Mark have recruited well, giving us some solid familiarity along with a smattering of new faces and budding young stars. They will no doubt be keeping an eye out for more opportunities throughout August as more players flood the market. Like it or not, affordability, versatility and personality are the prime considerations to fit into the last few squad places and we are moving to a hybrid format, with full time training sessions for our younger squad members and more performance-related rewards.

Listening to Robbie Savage on the Macclesfield club website he likes some continuity of players from season to season and a 4-3-3 formation.

We have retained several of our players from last season and Mark often sets us up as a flexible 4-3-3, so today will be a fascinating contest.

Games come thick and fast early on and we need a far better start than last season, so we welcome testing ourselves against the bookies’ favourites today.

Next month we will also want to start far better cup runs to get more funds in for the first team and to keep our attendances up by heading for Round One proper of the FA Cup.

So, no shortage of atmosphere with a big crowd for the first game, and a good time for us to upset the odds.

Give your team great support and enjoy a good game of football, maybe a glass of beer and some great chips. It’s non-league at its best as a new season gets under way again.