The summer break is all but over and the countdown to the highly anticipated 2019/20 Muscular Dystrophy UK Premiership has officially begun. Returning under the bright lights of NTU’s Lee Westwood Sports Centre, we have five action-packed weekends to look forward too. There is no doubt that the twelve teams who either maintained or established their place for the upcoming Premiership season will have been working hard in preparation for the season opener on September 21. The upcoming campaign sees both Manchester United PFC and AFC Bournemouth Warriors enter the competitive top tier of the WFA National League after excelling in the Championship. Will West Bromwich Albion once again pip Aspire PFC to Premiership glory, or will Aspire or Northern Thunder secure the coveted crown? 

After exceeding all expectations in securing an unprecedented 4th place finish last year, standout performers, St George’s Knights, will undoubtedly have strong ambitions of either matching or furthering their impressive achievements this upcoming campaign. Demonstrating grit and determination throughout last seasons five weekends, the Burton-based side did brilliantly securing the highest league finish in the club’s history. Some noticeable performances from dynamic duo Dylan Kelsall and Lucas Christer aided the sides league climb, with Harry Sommerfield and Ugis Rozins providing the all-important firepower up top. I can’t imagine Warren Kelsall or Jason Christer will alter their coaching approach too much and will want to get straight back to battling towards the higher placements of the MDUK Premiership table. Opening their account against Nottingham PFC, St George’s will be hoping for an opening three points before games against AFC Bournemouth, Northern Thunder, Manchester United and Sale Utd.

Adam McEvoy’s Sevenoaks PFC side should be better served to tackle the Premiership this year after excellently avoiding relegation in their last campaign. The Kent-based side would have focused their pre-season efforts on improving their attacking prowess, having scored only 12 goals in 22 league fixtures. A big season ahead for Kyle Alexander, who will be looking to force his way back into Colin Gordon’s England plans. Returning from a loan spell at AFC Bournemouth Warriors, Abbie Bolt will be wanting to make herself a household name in the Oaks’ starting line-up having faired brilliantly in the Championship, with fellow prospect, Harry Bestwick also looking to build on his invaluable years’ experience in the Premiership. Last year’s closely matched rivals Sale United present the first obstacle of the new season, before a tough fixture with Premiership contenders, Northern Thunder. The Oaks will want to extend their current purple patch against South East rivals, Brighton & Hove Albion PFC before Sunday's extremely challenging fixtures against last year’s Champions and runners up, West Bromwich Albion and Aspire PFC.

Northern Thunder have been busy recruiting in the off-season with the excellent summer signings of ex-England international Harry Boddy and Middlesbrough’s Matthew Harrison helping to bulk an already talented lineup. Sam Smith and Ed Common’s fantastic summer in Finland will be sure to further boost confidence in the Thunder camp ahead of the new campaign, with last season’s Premiership Top Goal Scorer, Jack Maxwell eager to replicate last year’s incredible individual success. Back after an extended break from Powerchair Football, Harry Boddy displayed flashes of his undoubted quality as he returned to the court back in June, helping Teesside PFC secure National League status. Thunder’s five-fixture weekend starts with Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday morning (10:30) before games against Sevenoaks and Nottingham. On Sunday Thunder play Villa Rockets and Sale United.

After an almost faultless, unbeaten campaign in the MDUK Championship, Manchester United PFC are sure to have a main underlying objective of maintaining Premiership status this season. The side will be keen to adopt the same calibre of performance that saw them score an impressive 88 goals, conceding only 5 across the season. A big season for exciting duo Jordan Duke and Patrick Kelly, who linked up exceptionally well, scoring a combined 43 league goals. The side will have to rally together in the absence of West Brom-bound Baris Inel when their tough five-fixture weekend begins with a tough early kick-off against WBA Throstles. Saturday's fixture list is completed with games against Villa Rockets and Nottingham PFC. Sunday doesn’t present much easier asks of United, with fixtures against Premiership Champions, West Bromwich Albion and fellow promoted side, AFC Bournemouth Warriors.

From finishing 10th in the 2017/18 Championship to securing automatic promotion to the Premiership, AFC Bournemouth Warriors exceeded all expectations last season. Their standout performances across the campaign didn’t go unnoticed in the division, with the Warriors picking up a plethora of accolades at the WFA’s End of Season Awards Evening. The Championship’s many coaches and participating players voted heavily in AFC Bournemouth Warriors favour for Championship Team of the Year, with Head Coaches Hannah Powis and Alex Dowding deservedly picking up the Head Coach of the Year award together. The Premiership presents a much greater level of both competition and quality, meaning AFC Bournemouth will have to acclimatise quickly to avoid getting drawn into the lower league placements. Regan Kemp and the Championship's Top Scorer, Ryan Skinner impressed throughout last season with Matthew Adam’s experience guiding the team’s younger players. Bournemouth kickstart their debut Premiership campaign against Nottingham PFC, closely followed by a daunting fixture against title-challengers Aspire PFC. On Sunday, the side face Brighton & Hove Albion and St George’s Knights.

It will be interesting to see how Aspire PFC acclimatise to the departure of long-time servant Charlie Kitcher in the new season. A key cog in Aspire’s previous Cup and League success, Kitcher bid farewell to the sport at the conclusion of the 2019 WFA Cup final, and we all at Muscular Dystrophy UK and the WFA wish him the best of luck for the future. The side wiped Northern Thunder aside in June’s WFA Cup Final at St George’s Park, sending out a clear statement of intent to bitter rivals West Bromwich Albion ahead of the 2019/20 campaign. The Watford-based side sensibly recruited Muscle Warriors star-man Tom Kelly in the summer months to fill the Kitcher void. Despite a long season ahead, all eyes will be firmly fixed on their opening fixture against Champions West Bromwich Albion on Saturday morning.  An early three-points could serve in giving either side the psychological edge and imperative first advantage in the race for the title. The weekend’s remaining fixtures present easier asks on paper, with games against AFC Bournemouth Warriors, St George’s Knights, and Sevenoaks.

Despite a fantastic (unbeaten) last weekend of the 2018/19 MDUK Premiership, Sale United PFC fell to 10th in the league standings, resulting in a commitment to defend their Premiership status against Norwich City in a one fixture play-off. A fantastic game played out between the sides at the Lee Westwood Centre on June 8. Despite Norwich taking an early lead in the fixture, goals from Liam Fitzpatrick (2) and Lewis Marshall helped Sale secure a hard-fought win over the Norfolk-based side, maintaining that all-important top tier status. Looking forward to the start of the 2019/20 MDUK Premiership, the side kickstart their campaign against a closely matched Sevenoaks side who finished just one point and respective position above them in last year’s standings. Three points in their first fixture could give them massive confidence approaching games against WBA Throstles, Northern Thunder and Nottingham PFC.

A mixed season for Nottingham PFC, who slipped under the radar slightly, pairing a number of impressive wins with some disappointing defeats. Led by Ricky Stevenson, the side definitely possesses the experience and guile to avoid relegation this season, so will have the ultimate ambition of improving on last season’s 7th place finish. Both Sam and Adam Langley impressed in games last season, with Sahil Zaffer showing glimpses of his quality in the wider positions. A challenging opening tie against a St George’s Knights side that finished 4th, before a credible chance of getting their points tally off the mark in their game against newly-promoted side, AFC Bournemouth Warriors. A challenging Saturday is capped off with a 16:45 fixture against title contenders Northern Thunder. Sunday’s games against Manchester United and Sale Utd present more winnable matchups for Nottingham.

The shrewd summer recruit of WBA Throstles Lizzie Tullet is sure to give Villa Rockets ambitions of a higher placed finish in the Premiership this season. Pipped to the fourth spot by a plucky St George’s Knights side last season, Villa will be keen to get off to winning ways when the respective sides meet on Court A at 13:00 on Saturday, a game sure to draw a number of intrigued spectators. Games against Manchester United and Northern Thunder complete Saturday’s fixture list, with games against both West Bromwich Albion outfits to contend with on Sunday. Villa's coaches will be demanding a similar level of performance this season from standout performers Daniel Kay and Amir Ali, who were both was fantastic at frustrating teams with their physical style of play.

Last year’s thrilling title race saw West Bromwich Albion once again pip Aspire PFC to the coveted Premiership crown in the last weekend of action. In the summer months, some shrewd transfer business has seen young prospect Baris Inel arrive from Championship winners Manchester United, in the place of long-time servant Richard George, who joins WBA Throstles. Marcus Harrison will be hoping to replicate performances from last season, fresh from securing the Premiership Player of the Year by a landslide at the WFA’s End of Season Awards. All eyes will be firmly glued to Court B at 11:45 on Saturday when Albion’s busy five-fixture weekend starts with a clash against bitter rivals and title contenders, Aspire PFC. Following fixtures include games against Brighton, Sevenoaks, Manchester United and Villa Rockets.

The superb summer addition of young prospect Lewis Harris, bulks and already competitive WBA Throstles roster. Despite a respectable 6th place finish last season, the West-Midlands side will believe they can compete comfortably with both Villa Rockets and St George’s Knight, two sides that trumped them in the league standings last season. Objectively viewing the opening fixture’s, Throstles will be aiming to secure six points on the Premiership’s opening day, where games against newly-promoted side Manchester United PFC and Sale United stand in their way. Some closer matched encounters on Sunday against Brighton & Hove Albion PFC and Villa Rockets should serve in providing a clearer picture of the side's ambitions this season.

Following last year’s departure of Matty Francis, Brighton & Hove Albion PFC recruited from within, promoting Gregg Baxter up through the ranks to the central position of the side. Excelling in the role, Gregg not only earned himself a deserved England call up, he also represented the Three Lions at the most recent EPFA Nations Cup in Finland, bringing home a winner’s medal. Sam Elliot impressed throughout the entirety of last season, with Lewis Hammans providing most of the team’s goals. Having recently been crowned South East Regional Champions, Brighton will want to at minimal avoid relegation, before considering replicating, or bettering last season’s 8th place finish. The Seagulls open the 2019/20 MDUK Premiership season with a tough opening fixture against Northern Thunder. Saturdays remaining fixtures include another challenging matchup with West Bromwich Albion, before facing close rivals Sevenoaks. An early morning game on Sunday against AFC Bournemouth Warriors arguably provides their best chance of registering three points before facing WBA Throstles at 11:45.

Where to find us?

Lee Westwood Sports Centre, Nottingham Trent University, Clifton Campus, Clifton Lane, Nottingham NG11 8NS

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