THACKLEY kick off their Toolstation Northern Counties East League Premier Division season at home to Albion Sports tonight, and manager Pat McGuire is a mixture of excited and apprehensive.

He said: “It’s absolutely not ideal, our first three games being in the FA Cup, the FA Vase and then a local derby.

“It means the season starts at 100mph for us, but then every game is difficult in this league. Everyone can beat anyone and if you’re not at it you’ll get walloped.

“It is an exciting one having a local derby first up though. It definitely adds a bit of spice and it should be a cracking game.

“Albion have got a lot of new players who’ll be raring to go too. They’ll be champing at the bit.”

Apart from coming fifth in 2016/17, Thackley have not finished in the top half of the NCEL Premier Division since 2012/13.

Asked about that anomaly a few years back, and how the Dennyboys can kick on this season, McGuire said: “The year we came fifth we got the highest points tally in the club’s history.

“But we had a lot of experienced players back then. Myself and (first team coach) Joe Brown were playing every week, and so was Craig Bentham, who’s now the Silsden assistant manager.

“We had the likes of Josh Snowden, Mike Garrod and Ryan Farrell too, and if you look at what they’ve all done since (Farrell for example is Yorkshire’s international manager), there were a lot of leaders in the team.

“But people have gone their separate ways and the money’s not really there now, so we’ve got to do the best with what we’ve got.”

McGuire added: “We’re always looking for progression and we’ve got a lot of loyal lads now who enjoy the set up and the culture at the club.

“It’s demanding, as we have two training sessions a week then games too.

“We can’t offer financially what some teams can, but what we lack in that sense we make up for with a level of professionalism and that’s shown in the style of neat, attractive football that we play.

“We’re not just competing with the teams around us on the pitch, but also with them for fans too, as there’s a few other Bradford teams at our level.

“It means we have to offer something a bit different to get people through the turnstiles.”

Elsewhere this evening, Eccleshill United kick off their NCEL Premier Division campaign with a home game against Goole AFC.

Liversedge and Silsden, like Albion, are both away, against Maltby Main and Garforth Town respectively.

Campion have already kicked off their Division One season, beating Glasshoughton Welfare 1-0 on Saturday, and they are in league action again tonight, travelling to Worsbrough Bridge Athletic.