Familiar faces and new opposition lie in wait for Vale
For the past few months the 14 clubs in North Premier have been waiting for the fixtures for the 2018-2019 season to be revealed.
A glance at the composition of North Premier reveals many clubs who are well known to Vale’s cognoscenti, but there is one stranger, Billingham from the North East.
Billingham finished in sixth place in North Premier last season and this will be the first meeting between the two clubs.
Stepping back in time, a couple of Yorkshire clubs featured on Vale’s fixture agenda in the early 90s, Harrogate and Sandal.
Vale last took on Harrogate in November 1991 when they lost at home 15-10 in a National Division Four North fixture; there no home and away games way back then.
Sandal last visited Powderhouse Lane in November 1994 when they won a club fixture, 17-8.
Blaydon, who were relegated from National Two North at the end of last season, will host the Vale on the opening game of the campaign, won both their games against the Vale in the 1997/98 season, in September on their own patch at Crow Trees, 30-11 and the return game in March, 40-18.
A long trip to Alnwick in March 2000 ended in a 10-8 defeat, the Northumbrians having won at Vale, 17-6 in September in a North Two fixture.
In the 2004/05 season Hull, who finished in second place in North Premier last season but lost to Peterborough Lions in the play off, inflicted a brace of defeats on Vale who fell through the trapdoor of North One, after losing at home 32-17 and away 53-20.
However, in the 2005/06 season, Vale appeared more at ease paddling in the waters of North Two West inflicting the double over Rossendale, 35-12 at home and away 74-7.
Old adversaries, Lymm, won both North One West games in the 2009/10 season, at home 32-18 and at Powderhouse Lane, 25-8.
League fixtures began against Wirral in the 2010/11 season with the last North One West encounters being played out in the 2013/14 season when Vale drew away at the Memorial Ground 10-10 but lost at home 24-3 as Wirral went onto clinch the championship. Vale last played against Ilkley in a warm up fixture in August 2012, losing 31-12 at Stacks Field.
History surrounds the fixtures against Kendal, Kirkby Lonsdale and Wilmslow.
Kendal won both games in their table topping 2015/16 season, at home 34-3 in September and at The Lane just before Christmas, 5-0 in what was Kendal’s lowest point’s victory of the season.
In the second meeting against Kirkby Lonsdale in the 2016/17 season, Vale repeated another miserly feat when they restricted the eventual champions Kirkby Lonsdale to their smallest score 16-0 in an unbeaten season.
In doing so, they became the only club to deny Kirkby a winning bonus point in December – Kirkby had romped to a 50-8 victory at Vale in the third game of the season.
Last season, Vale won at home against Wilmslow 41-17 but lost the return 37-23 in the final North One West fixture of the season.
It was an outcome that sent Wilmslow into a play-off game at Driffield, which they won 24-21 in dramatic style, thanks to a last minute try.
North Premier fixtures
01/09/2018 Blaydon (A)
08/09/2018 Wilmslow (H)
15/09/2018 Kendal (A)
22/09/2018 Kirkby Lonsdale (H)
29/09/2018 Ilkley (A)
13/10/2018 Alnwick (A)
20/10/2018 Hull (H)
27/10/2018 Lymm (A)
03/11/2018 Harrogate (H)
17/11/2018 Sandal (A)
24/11/2018 Billingham (H)
01/12/2018 Rossendale (A)
08/12/2018 Wirral (H)
15/12/2018 Wilmslow (A)
05/01/2019 Kendal (H)
12/01/2019 Kirkby Lonsdale (A)
19/01/2019 Ilkley (H)
26/01/2019 Alnwick (H)
09/02/2019 Hull (A)
16/02/2019 Lymm (H)
02/03/2019 Harrogate (A)
09/03/2019 Sandal (H)
23/03/2019 Billingham (A)
30/03/2019 Rossendale (H)
06/04/2019 Wirral (A)
13/04/2019 Blaydon (H)