Elvijs back at Yarmouth for start of new Eastern Counties campaign
Shirley D Whitlow
Local football’s staggered start begins on Saturday as the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League kicks off in earnest.
And while it is business as usual for some, for others there are new challenges ahead.
Swaffham Town's return to the Premier Division following promotion sees them at home to Godmanchester Rovers.
Great Yarmouth Town, who made the change of division in reverse, begin their First Division North campaign with a trip over the border to Ispwich Wanderers.
And Sheringham, winners of the Anglian Combination Premier Division last season, head to Lakenheath.
For Great Yarmouth, there's a new manager in Rob McCombe, and the return of a familar face in goalkeeper Elvijs Putnins.
The 28-year-old Latvian has left neighbours Lowestoft Town, who play three steps higher up the league ladder, to rejoin the club he last played for two years ago.
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Putnins was part of the side that finished fifth in the Premier Division and will now be a key figure as the Bloaters bid to return to the top flight at the first attempt.
Putnins, who was under contract at Lowestoft, had been a regular for the last two seasons and helped the Trawlerboys to a respectable mid-table finish in the Southern League Premier Central Division last term under Jamie Godbold and Andy Reynolds.
Putnins has played for a wide range of clubs, including Queens Park Rangers, where he was named on the bench by Neil Warnock in the Premier League, and now lives in Great Yarmouth.
"It's the signing we have been chasing," said Bloaters' manager Rob McCombe.
"Elvijs has played at this club before and brings with him a wealth of experience, ability and professionalism which will be invaluable to us. This will give everyone a boost."
Gorleston open their Premier campaign at home to Ely City while Kirkley & Pakefield will be led by new boss Gary McGee at home to Hadleigh United.
In the First Division North, Mulbarton Wanderers are away to Cornard United, Downham Town travel to Debenham LC and Fakenham Town host relegated Framlingham Town. Norwich CBS are away to Haverhill Borough while Diss Town are away to Wisbech St Mary.
Goals from Liam Hemming and Bradley Sandell earned Thetford a 2-1 home win over Walsham-le-Willows in the Premier Division's opening game on Friday night.
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