TEAMS in the York Vale Cricket League are putting in their final preparations for the 2019 season which starts this weekend.

Following the promotion of Westow to the Hunters York & District Senior League, last season’s division one runners-up, Clifton Alliance, will start as title favourites with the emergence of their talented young squad.

A home fixture against Thixendale will be their first test of the new campaign, although the standout week one fixture sees Kelfield hosting Melbourne, the sides having finished third and fourth respectively last season.

Stockton & Hopgrove, who finished unbeaten in division two last year, will look to continue their winning ways on their trip east to South Cave and Brantingham.

After taking division three by storm, Sessay make the journey to Hemingbrough for their opening division two fixture and will look to repeat their cup final success of last season against the same opposition in what promises to be a competitive opening fixture.

Despite relegation last year, Wheldrake will be looking to capitalise on a merger with Rowntrees & Huntington and make a positive start against Hirst Courtney, who just missed out on promotion to division one last term.

Newcomers to the league Bolton Percy and Heslington both make their third division debuts with home games. Bolton Percy take on Selby, while Heslington face a stiff challenge from Burn II, with both new clubs looking to field young players who have graduated from their junior sections.

An additional team from Pocklington, with a similar ethos on junior development, make their league debut at home to Thorpe Willoughby II.

The cup action begins ob the weekend of May 25-26 with the early rounds of the HPH and Scothern Construction competitions. HPH Cup holders Clifton Alliance begin the defence of their trophy with an away fixture at Ben Johnson.

As 2018 winners of the Scothern Construction Cup, Sessay step up to HPH Cup competition with a tough first round encounter at home to Kelfield.

The HPH Cup final will be held on Sunday, August 4 at Clifton Alliance and the Scothern Construction final on Sunday, August 18 at Pocklington.

In recognition of the emergence of an increasing number of Vale League clubs giving junior cricketers their first experience of playing senior cricket, new for 2019 will be the York Vale Super-12s tournament for under-16s.

In association with Scothern Construction, the tournament will be hosted by Selby on Sunday, July 28 with a unique 12-overs-per-side round-robin format.