It’s in at the deep end for Chester-le-Street United.  They don’t have far to go for their first fixture – they’re up against Chester-le-Street Town.

And their squad will be the youngest in the league – with players based at the Park View Academy in the town.  Manager John Gamble said:  “We’re the new kids on the block and some of our former players are with them, so that’s a bit of an incentive for both sides to do well.

“We’re a new club – formed just two years ago.  The Wearside League was a tough league and the Northern League will be even tougher, but we like to stretch and develop our players.”

Apart from the challenge of playing in a senior league, the club will also have a regular through put of players and they join and then leave the academy. John added:  “We want to play good football and get them into good habits.

They start the season after taking part in an international tournament in Italy which means that they’ve only had a couple of pre-season friendlies on their return.

United chairman Lewis Pendleton said they’ve met all the ground grading requirements apart from the floodlights which they aim to have installed by the end of September.

“With all the off-field issues we’ve had to deal with, we can’t wait to get started on Saturday.”

They’ll be playing at the Riverside in the town, next to the cricket ground and Durham County FA headquarters.  “We looked at three options:  playing on the centre pitch at the Riverside, refurbishing the 3G area or setting up and developing our own site at a local school.

“The first was the best option and we have invested a lot of money, including on the pitch.

“We’re looking forward to the new season, it’s exciting to be in the Northern League.  The team is mainly made up of 18 and 19 year-olds.”  The club has been successful in national youth leagues and has four former players sign professional forms.

“We wanted to create a pathway for our young players into men’s football.  We think it’s a really good way to develop players – it’s a great league to be involved in, with great players.”  But he’s expecting some up and down performances because the squad is relatively young.

The club is also hoping to tap into the family and friends of their players in their youth section to build up their fan base.  “It was difficult in the Wearside League because we played some matches at the Riverside, some of the 3G pitches and some at the Sunderland Hub.

“We try and play good, attractive football but it will be a learning curve for the players.  It’s all about enjoying the ride – there’s no real pressure on us and hopefully we just want to consolidate our place in the league at the end of the season.”