Seaham Red Star handed long opening-day trip to Penrith on return to Northern League First Division

Washington will kick off life in Division One at home to Ashington on August 8
Washington will kick off life in Division One at home to Ashington on August 8
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Seaham Red Star’s return to the Ebac Northern League First Division will kick off with their longest trip of the season.

Mark Collingwood’s men, crowned Division Two champions, open the 2015-16 campaign at Cumbrian outfit Penrith on Saturday, August 8 – their first top-flight game since being relegated in bottom spot in 2001-02.

Sunderland RCA have a testing and attractive home Meadow Park opener against ambitious Consett, who are tipped to challenge strongly for the championship, whil Steve Hutchinson’s Washington welcome Ashington to the Nissan Sports Complex as they return to the top division for the first time since 2007-08.

In Division Two, Ryhope CW start away to Esh Winning and newly-promoted Easington Colliery, runners-up in the Wearside League last season, have a home opener against Whickham.

Sunderland RCA have been drawn at home to FA Vase holders North Shields in the Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup first round.

Washington host Penrith, Easington go to Newcastle Benfield and Seaham Red Star head to Ryton and Crawcrook Albion, while Gary Pearson’s Ryhope CW have a bye through to a second round tie at Whitley Bay.

Shildon have signed Spennymoor Town’s ex-Blyth Spartans defender Dan Groves to bolster their squad for the coming season, while 17-year-old striker Ryan Nelson has penned a two-year deal with Scottish Championship club Queen of the South, having impressed for the Dean Street Under-18s last season.

Four senior players are also leaving the Railwaymen – Adam Rundle, Chris Emms, Lee Paul Scroggins and Liam Atkin.

Northern League chairman Mike Amos announced, at Saturday’s AGM, that he will stand down at the end of next season, following 20 years in charge.

Opening-day fixtures, Division One: Bedlington Terriers v Dunston UTS, Durham City v West Allotment Celtic, Guisborough Town v North Shields, Morpeth Town v Bishop Auckland, Newcastle Benfield v Shildon, Newton Aycliffe v Marske United, Norton & Stockton Ancients v Jarrow Roofing, Penrith v Seaham Red Star,Sunderland RCA v Consett, Washington v Ashington, Whitley Bay v West Auckland Town

Division Two: Billingham Town v Birtley Town, Chester-le-Street v Stokesley SC, Crook Town v Heaton Stannington, Darlington RA v Alnwick Town, Easington Colliery v Whickham, Esh Winning v Ryhope CW, Ryton & Crawcrook Albion v Hebburn Town, South Shields v Northallerton Town, Team Northumbria v Brandon United, Thornaby v Willington, Tow Law Town v Billingham Synthonia

Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup, first round draw: A Bedlington Terriers v Alnwick Town, B Chester-le-Street v Northallerton Town, C Darlington RA v Jarrow Roofing, D Morpeth Town v Bishop Auckland, E Newcastle Benfield v Easington Colliery, F Ryton & Crawcrook Albion v Seaham Red Star, G South Shields v Team Northumbria, H Sunderland RCA v North Shields, J Tow Law Town v Whickham, K Washington v Penrith, L West Allotment Celtic v Billingham Synthonia, M West Auckland Town v Hebburn Town

Second round draw: Ashington v Heaton Stannington, A v M, Brandon United v L, Durham City v Crook Town, Esh Winning v Billingham Town, Guisborough Town v C, Marske United v J, D v Consett, E v F, Norton & Stockton Ancients v Dunston UTS, Shildon v Stokesley SC, G v B, Thornaby v Birtley Town, K v Newton Aycliffe, Whitley Bay v Ryhope CW, Willington v H