It was the perfect start for Toolstation NCEL newcomers Sherwood Colliery as their 4-0 home victory over Athersley Recreation was the biggest win in the Premier Division on the opening day of the 2021/22 season.
It was an afternoon to savour for everyone as the first league games in 2021 took place after a 215-day wait, the last matches taking place in December 2020 before the 2020/21 campaign was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And, after two years of frustration, it is now hoped that this season will be able to proceed and conclude with as little disruption as possible.
Sherwood Colliery's bow on the NCEL stage could not have gone better for them following their promotion from Step 6 with a Charlie Taylor brace putting them in control in the opening minutes before second-half strikes from Gareth Curtis and Timothy Gregory sealed the Rec's fate.
The two other promoted sides, Winterton Rangers
and Emley AFC
, met at the MKM Stadium with both looking to start their move up from Division One with victory but a tight affair ended up with a point apiece and a goalless draw.
There were four more draws in the top flight with Albion Sports
and Grimsby Borough
drawing a blank at the Citadel Stadium and four goals were shared between Hemsworth Miners Welfare
and their hosts Bottesford Town
Hemsworth grabbed a point with an injury-time equaliser from Andrew Higgins after Michael Jones' double had seemingly given the Poachers the victory.
There were late goals at the Mitton Group Stadium as Luke Aldrich put Eccleshill United
ahead on 87 minutes but visitors Penistone Church
ensured it was honours even in a 1-1 draw as Nicholas Guest converted a last-gasp penalty.
But, the highest scoring game saw Goole AFC
draw 4-4 at Thackley
in a dramatic game that saw the visiting Vikings take a 2-0 lead by the 23rd minute with Liam Parker getting both of their goals.
Thackley clawed it back to 2-2 by the break through Kieran Haigh and Ben Grech-Brooksbank before Albert Ibrahimi and Grech-Brooksbank again put the hosts 4-2 up with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining but Jordan Emery and Callum McEwan restored parity for Goole.
Sean Hunter and Kian Sketchley were the heroes for Knaresborough Town
and AFC Mansfield
who picked up single-goal victories at Barton Town
and Staveley Miners Welfare
's 2-1 home victory over Maltby Main
came courtesy of first-half strikes from Sam Barker and Jamie Burgess with Jamie Austin halving the deficit in the 76th minute.
And, Mitchell Dunne struck twice in Handsworth
's 4-2 winning start at home to Silsden AFC
, Thomas Roebuck and Leon Howarth with their other goals whilst Jack Normanton and Joe Jagger netted for the visitors.
Heralding a new era following their name change from East Hull in the summer, FC Humber United
were rampant in Division One as they thrashed visitors Dronfield Town
They raced into a five-goal lead by the interval - Harry Watson, Liam Mulligan, Jamie Baxter, Jamie Phillips, and Brandon Burke all getting on the scoresheet - before Christian Savage opened the away side's account around the hour mark.
Cameron Hall scored twice, though, to dampen any hopes of a Dronfield revival and put the hosts in seventh heaven.
Of the five sides who have returned to NCEL Division One from the now-defunct East Midlands Counties League, Clipstone
will begin their season next week whilst Rainworth Miners Welfare
picked up a point at home to Selby Town
Craig Mitchell gave the Wrens a 26th minute lead but Harry Clapham ensured the game ended on level terms with his equaliser for the Robins with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining.
tasted defeat, however, in their comebacks with Matthew Plummer, Jamie Forrester and Daniel East securing North Ferriby
a 3-0 win at Shirebrook whilst Teversal fell to a single goal in first-half stoppage time from Matthew Hughes as they were beaten at home by Armthorpe Welfare
And, despite goals from George Slack and Sam Stretton, Ollerton Town
also got off to a losing start as they were defeated 4-2 at Rossington Main
, Paul Sherburn's double adding to earlier strikes from Niall Doran and Jack Watson.
Sam Ackroyd is the NCEL's first hat-trick hero of the season as he got all of Parkgate
's goals in a 3-0 win at Retford FC
and Worsbrough Bridge Athletic
were also victorious on their travels, Owen Wildblood scoring as they beat Hall Road Rangers
Scott Phillips, Alfie Usher and Andrew Taylor secured a 3-2 home win for Brigg Town
at the expense of Glasshoughton Welfare
whilst Daniel Thirkell netted twice in Harrogate Railway Athletic
's 3-0 triumph over visitors Swallownest
took the lead before trailing 3-1 and then pulling it back for a 3-3 draw at Nostell Miners Welfare
, Christopher Wood with two of their goals whilst Nathan Perks did the same for the hosts.
Photo: An overhead kick from Barton Town's Joshua Vickers denies Sam Cook but the Swans taste defeat on the opening day with a 1-0 home loss to Knaresborough Town in the Toolstation NCEL Premier Division. (Credit: Keith Clayton)