Northants Bowling Federation begin their build-up to the new county campaign with their annual match against Whittlesey Manor on Saturday (May 6) at which former Federation stalwart John Dickenson will be remembered.
They will be playing for the John Dickenson Memorial Challenge Shield, which has been donated by Trevor Collins at Shotbowl.
John died at the beginning of March after distinguished service with the Federation at both county and national level, and fittingly it was at the Whittlesey Manor club where he began his long association with bowls more than 40 years ago.
This match is regarded as a curtain-raiser to the new county championship campaign which gets under way on Saturday, May 27 with a trip to Norfolk.
The City of Peterborough club will be the new base for the Newton Trophy team who will have only four matches this year with North Cambs only able to field one side.
Having led the county to Adams Trophy success for the first time two years ago, Cliff Watson has taken over as team captain from Brian Bassam with the hope of bringing the trophy back to the county for the first time since 1967.
Peter Brown has taken over the running of the Adams Trophy team following the resignation of Fred Richardson and will be looking to make another serious challenge for southern section honours.
The county have home games against North Cambs (Adams team only) and Suffolk on successive Saturdays, June 3 and 10, with visits to Lincolnshire and Hunts on Saturdays June 17 and July 1, before concluding their programme at home to North Essex on Saturday, July 8.
Northants Women’s Bowling Federation will select their teams for the opening county matches following a practice match at Whittlesey Manor next Wednesday.
With Lincolnshire having been transferred to the northern section, the Donald Steward Trophy team, now under the captaincy of Joan Robinson, will only have five matches in the southern group, but with North Cambs only able to field one team, the Silver Jubilee Vase squad, led again by Ann Cooper, will play just four.
The county open with a visit to Hunts on Tuesday, May 30, followed by consecutive home matches against North Cambs (Steward team only), North Essex and Norfolk on Wednesdays, June 14, 21 and 28, before finishing with a trip to Suffolk on Wednesday, July 12.
The Steward team are returning to Whittlesey Manor this season from Peterborough & District, who will be hosting the two Vase home matches.
Hunts men are in county action this Saturday when they entertain Norfolk at Parkway in the Eastern Counties League as they build up towards the start of their Middleton Cup county championship programme.
The county have not achieved the results that were anticipated in recent seasons, and the re-drawing of the groups this year means they will need to step up a gear in the face of opposition from old adversaries Norfolk (away, June 3), Herts (home, June 10), Suffolk (away, June 24) and Northants (home, July 8).
Home matches this season have been switched from Parkway to Brampton, but the city club will be hosting home fixtures for the county women in the Johns Trophy – Essex (home, June 3), Norfolk (away, June 24), Cambs (home, July 1), Herts (away, July 8).
A champions challenge match between last season’s winners of the Peterborough League (Parkway) and Spalding League (Ayscoughee) takes place at the Market Deeping club on Sunday (2pm). Ayscoughfee won the inaugural event last year when defeating Whittlesey Manor at the same venue.