THE season has seemed like it would never get here for the Haws, Bluebell and Welfare, but they are ready to get going this weekend.

Hill of Beath Hawthorn and Dundonald Bluebell joined the East of Scotland League set-up last season, but for the Welfare, this will be their first venture into this sort of arena.

The Haws finished runners-up to Boness United in the first season of the EoS Premier League, which was curtailed in March due to Covid-19 and the ‘Bell were in the top six saw so both clubs are looking forward to the new season with high hopes of leaving a strong imprint in this important part of the Scottish Pyramid model.

The Welfare are in Conference B of the East of Scotland First Division along with old rivals Lochgelly Albert and are planning to make an impact.

Haws boss, John Mitchell, managed to secure 16 of last season’s squad which made such a strong start to their East of Scotland campaign and he has since added striker Scott Gibson, from Bowhill Rovers, to his unit along with Brandon Luke, the former Dunfermline Athletic midfielder who had a highly successful loan spell with Cowdenbeath; along with Ryan Connelly, the former Cowden striker.

John has seen his team perform well in a series of pre-season friendlies but he is fully aware of the strange situation the new season will present for players: “The friendlies have brought with them their own challenges with teams having to arrive at grounds changed.

“However, the sides we have played have adjusted well to the requirements of the restrictions and the games have been very good workouts.

“We are ready for the start of the Premier League season and while it is a programme of 34 games we feel we have a squad capable of handling this volume of fixtures.

“The Premier Division has many good sides in it so this will be a tough campaign and our aim is to be up their challenging, although we are under no illusions of how difficult this will be.”

Haws have plenty of firepower in their ranks with strikers Lewis Elder, Daniel Watt and Ryan Connelly proven goal scorers and Scott Gibson shaping up as a very useful recruit.

The midfield players who did well for the club last season are all in place for the new campaign as are the defenders who contributed strongly to the successful campaign.

Haws have a tough start away to Tranent, a game which will pose some early questions for the Keirs Parkers.

TIMES PREDICTION: Haws will mount a strong challenge this season and will be in the mix for the title. Look also for some good cup runs.

DUNDONALD Bluebell had some really good runs last season in the Premier League but hit a couple of blank streaks which saw them denied a top three spot.

However, manager Kevin Fotheringham has been able to bring in some very useful attacking players to strengthen the Moorside challenge.

Former Ross County front man John Cameron has been secured for the ‘Bell as Ross Mutch, from Kelty Hearts and Liam Craig, a midfielder, has been fixed up from Kennoway Star Hearts.

On the downside Matty Gay has had to take time out from the game so won't be in action this season and Liam Craig dislocated his shoulder in a friendly and will miss at least six weeks of the season.

Kevin is just hoping that things get going OK and that his team get the opportunity to show what they can do.

He will have attacking midfielders Lewis McKenzie and Calum Strang ready to support the front line in a pretty potent attacking threat.

“The friendlies have gone well, although a little strange with the teams having to have turned up changed through the Covid restrictions,” he said.

“However, we have played well in a number of the friendlies and I just hope we get going on October 10 and keep on going.

“It will be a real test for there are some very strong sides in the division and hopefully we can defend a bit more solidly than we did in some games at times last season.

“If we can do that then I would hope we can get the consistency that can earn us some good results and it would be good to be in the top five or six and making a challenge.”

TIMES PREDICTION: The Bluebell have a good mix of quality players in their squad and will be a team that none of the challengers for the title will want to meet. A top four finish is well within the Moorsiders’ reach.

LOCHORE Welfare made the big decision to quit the junior scene in the summer and are ready for their first sojourn into the East of Scotland League.

Lochore had a tough time in the East Super League last season but once they got their squad in place in the autumn they started to pick up some good results.

The Covid-19 curtailed season left them not knowing whether they could have moved above the bottom two slots but at least they showed some good performances.

Lochore manager James Adam has managed to re-sign a number of key Welfare players as he looks to bid to let the club finish in the top eight of Conference B and qualify for the First Division in 20121/22.

And he has managed to secure several new signings who he hopes will strengthen the Central Parkers hopes of having a good first season in their new arena.

It will see Welfare break new ground, just like Lochgelly Albert, by playing teams like Hawick Royal Albert and Peebles Rovers along with Eyemouth United.

Said James: “We have been able to make some good acquisitions for the new season.

"Greg Denton is a strong centre-back, while teenager Peter Thomson has shown some tremendous form at centre midfield against strong opposition in our friendlies.

"On the attacking side we have brought in Kinglassie lad Kellar Harris who has shown to have a strong eye for a goal while Sean Cusick ,20, the nephew of Welfare legend John Cusick, is a big powerful attacker while Dillon Gilmour likes to get forward from midfield so we have a definite goal threat."

Goalkeeper Gary Inglis has re-signed but sustained a broken hand in one of the friendlies and on loan from Dundonald, Ged Crowe, son of another Lochore legend, Willie Crowe, will be between the sticks in the opening games.

Added James: "It will be really interesting to have a number of Fife derbies which have their own flavour about them.

“I believe it will be a very competitive Conference we are in but in saying that I feel we have a the quality of player to give us a good chance of making the top eight.

“The derby games will be good and it will be great to take on the Albert in the most local of local derbies!”

James had bit to deal with on Thursday night when one of his players was tested positive for Covid-19 and two other players who had been in contact with him had also to self isolate.

TIMES PREDICTION: The Welfare will have more than enough about them in an attacking sense to qualify for next season’s First Division.

Saturday's fixtures: Lowland League, Kelty Hearts v Edinburgh University 3pm. East of Scotland League Premier Division, Tranent v Hill of Beath Hawthorn 2.30, Linlithgow Rose v Crossgates Primrose 2.30, Whitehill Welfare v Dundonald Bluebell 2.30.

East of Scotland League First Division Conference B, Oakley United v Lochgelly Albert 2.30, Newburgh v Lochore Welfare 2.30.