HAVING been promoted from the Second Division of the Ebac Northern League in the summer, Crook Town will begin life in Division One with a trip to Thornaby.

Next season’s Northern League fixtures were released yesterday, with the opening round of matches due to take place on Saturday, July 31.

The final round of Northern League matches in the 2021-22 season is scheduled for the weekend of April 16, 2022.

Shildon and Stockton Town, who were promoted from the Northern League to the new Northern Premier League East as part of an FA reorganisation of the non-league pyramid, will learn their fixture schedule soon.

The Northern League held its AGM last week, and chairman Glenn Youngman said it was a “strange decision” by the FA to class the 2019-20 season as null and void only then to combine results with the curtailed 2020-21 season to decide which clubs would gain promotion on an overall points per game over the two seasons.

He said: “In one season we had played approximately 75% of the games but in the season just finished we had only completed approximately 25%.

“I believe that promotion and relegation should be decided on the field of play.”

Next season’s first-day fixtures in Division One are: Billingham Town v Newton Aycliffe, Consett v Seaham Red Star, Guisborough v Bishop Auckland, North Shields v West Allotment, Penrith v Ashington, Redcar Athletic v Northallerton, Sunderland RCA v Sunderland Ryhope CW, Thornaby v Crook, West Auckland v Newcastle Benfield, Whitley Bay v Whickham.

* The full list of Northern League fixtures for next season is available here - Fixture list