THE first weekend in September marks the start of the local grassroots football season, writes Tony Spencer.

The Basingstoke & District Football League Saturday section has been going strong since 1903, with the Sunday section added in 1964, and this season is no exception.

The format of the league this year is one division of eight teams on Saturday, kicking off at a park near you at 2pm; with three divisions on Sunday made up of a first division of seven and two divisions of twelve teams, all kicking off at 10.30am on Sunday.

For both sections, as well as local league games, some clubs will enter League, Divisional, County and Invitational cup competitions, for which local teams have enjoyed a good record over recent years.

On Saturday the matches are spread around the district, in Aldermaston, North Warnborough and Overton. We can expect a lively season of competition with Silchester Village aiming to retain their championship, with rivals CK Andover and promoted Basing United and Odiham United among others having sights on their own ambitions.

With 14 matches within the Sunday section starting at 10.30am, five matches are at Brighton Hill, three at Stratton Park, with other games at Oakridge, Winklebury, Aldershot Park and Thatcham. 

The juiciest Sunday fixture is probably between close rivals Republic of Chineham and Basingstoke Hammers, but there other interesting meetings, like promoted former rivals White Ash Rovers and Hartley Sunday, wanting to establish their places in the top division, and OLA Prestige (runners-up in the Newbury Premier last season) hoping to prove themselves in this league with a home match against AFC Aldermaston.

So, if there’s a grassroots football match in your local park this weekend, take a look, it’s free and fun entertainment and, if you get drawn into watching the excitement and passion of the game regularly, clubs are always looking for players, volunteers, coaches, assistant referees and sponsors, just remember, this is sport for all and respect is paramount.