Durham Coast League: Murton are seeking a first championship hat-trick when they open the season on Saturday.

"We were top during 2003 and 2004 and will be going all out for a three in a row. It won't be easy though and we expect to be pushed all the way," said secretary Herbert King.

Although influential captain and pro Calvin Stephenson will again be at the helm after being the league's top wicket-taker with 73 victims last year, Murton have lost three players.

Howard Ramshaw, who has given magnificent service to the club for many years, has retired while Min Mahil has joined Horden and Shaun Smith has indicated he will not be playing for the club.

"Their absence will make it difficult but we'll give it our best shot and hopefully create a club record," added King.

Ryhope finished runners-up last season and will be hoping that their youth policy continues to pay dividends.

They have never been afraid to pitch in youngsters and spokesman Mattie Summerside is confident that more will make the first team this season.

"We have lost a couple of experienced players with last season's captain Graeme Anderson moving to Eppleton and wicket-keeper batsman David Hanson to Seaham Park so there will definitely be opportunities for junior players," said Summerside.

Craig Smith has been brought in from Bill Quay and the all-rounder takes over as professional from Paul Watson, who is staying on as an amateur. Graeme Smith is the new captain.

Dawdon enjoyed their most successful season in years last time when Shoaib Akhtar topped both the league batting and bowling averages and it will be interesting to see how they fare following his move to Blackhall.

David Coates captains the side which will be missing Craig Price at the beginning and end of the campaign because of his involvement in the UniBond League with Blyth Spartans.

Silksworth challenged for the title until the final weeks of last season but go into the new campaign without captain David Tait, Michael Kearney and Steve Hanson. Old boys Michael Waterson and Mark Jones have returned.

Castle Eden expect a crop of talented youngsters to be knocking on the door for first team places. In recent years they have developed a successful youth policy and secretary Leo Taylor is confident the future of the club is in good hands.

Brothers Andrew and Philip Havelock, who have not played recently, have returned and Mike Horseley should be available on a regular basis following his transfer from Wolviston last year.

Houghton have considerably strengthened their squad. Stephen Robinson, formerly with Leadgate, takes over as captain with Carl Miller, Michael Kearney, Lee Husband and Gary Robinson all available. On the debit side, Des Pratt is absent

A pre-season blow to Bill Quay is the news that Chris Pleasants has had to retire because of injury. He is well known and respected, particularly for his outstanding service to Felling and his pace bowling will be badly missed by Bill Quay who he joined last season.

Despite having little time to find a successor, the Quay have snapped up all-rounder Shaun Smith, who has recently played in the League for both Hylton and Murton.

But they could struggle in the bowling department after losing Craig Smith to Ryhope and Anthony Trotter to neighbours Gateshead Fell.

Gary Critchley is the new captain of Boldon CA and is looking forward to the development of Karl Bellerby who won the NatWest Under-18 Speed Bowling Championship at Lord's last season.

Wicket-keeper Graeme Poulton has returned and the Towns brothers, David and Michael, are back from Bill Quay.

David Hanson is a significant signing for Seaham Park who will be led by Michael McNicholas while Easington again have David Kennedy acting as professional and skipper. Although Peter Molloy has joined from Brandon, Jason Robson has switched to Blackhall.

Peterlee finished last year with the wooden spoon and their Second XI were just one place off the bottom. Between them the two sides managed just two victories in 44 games but officials are more confident this time.

Washington have joined from the Roseberry Group North East Durham League, replacing Hylton who have moved into The Readers Durham County League.

Their aim during the first season is consolidation and to promote youth. "We are obviously very pleased at stepping up a rung on the ladder but realise it will be a challenge, however, it will give our younger members a standard to strive for," said secretary Adrian Wood.

All-rounder Billy Brownsword from Philadelphia will be the club's professional.