IN what is their first season at a new level, 1874 Northwich would have dearly loved to start with a home game.

However, it may well be that travelling to Clitheroe for their opening match of the season is no bad thing.

Greens kick off their first ever Northern Premier League campaign with a trip to Shawbridge on Saturday – a ground they have recent fond memories of.

Many of the current squad were involved when 1874 knocked their Lancashire opponents out of the FA Cup on their own turf back in 2019.

As co-manager Wayne Goodison explains, however, the connection between the clubs goes way beyond that day.

“Clitheroe is actually a nice one for us,” he told the Guardian.

“A few years ago, we went to play at Padiham but the game was called off just before kick off.

“We always take a good few fans to Padiham and they all went up to Clitheroe to watch their game.

“I saw some videos from the day and they were having some good banter with the Clitheroe supporters.

“We went back to Clitheroe in the FA Cup and we managed to get a win – it was a good day and a good atmosphere with the fans.

“It is a nice one for us to start with and it will be a nice occasion.”

Home or away and whoever stood across the field from them, however, Saturday was always going to be a special day for 1874.

Upwards movement to the NPL West Division was just reward for their displays in the past two Covid-shortened campaigns.

Now, the hope is that turbulent chapter can finally be closed.

“It’s been a real boost for us looking at the fixtures and the different places we’ll be going,” Goodison said.

“It’s made a big difference to the way the players’ mindset is and I’m sure Bootle and Rylands – the other two teams that came up with us – are the same.

“Everybody looks for the opening game but the bottom line is you have to play everybody at some point.

“It doesn’t really matter who you get first or last.”

Greens’ first home game of the new campaign comes on Tuesday when Kidsgrove Athletic visit Townfield.