Kick off to North Region junior football season as Superleague clubs bid for Highland League place and Forres Thistle host Rothie Rovers' first-ever league fixture
Get the Forres Gazette sent to your inbox every week and swipe through an exact replica of the day's newspaper
JUNIOR league football returns this weekend with clubs from Nairn to Montrose starting a new campaign.
The last two North Region junior seasons were declared null and void because of the pandemic, and honours will be up for grabs again this term.
The extra incentive for clubs in the Superleague this term is a possible play-off for a Highland League place available to the title winners.
Five Moray clubs, one Highland and a string of Banff and Buchan hopefuls join the clubs from in and around Aberdeen contesting the three north divisions.
The most recent addition to the junior ranks, Rothie Rovers, play their first-ever league match at Forres Thistle in Division 2 on Saturday.
The Rothienorman outfit joined the set-up a year ago but were only able to play three League Cup fixtures last year before the season was shut down.
Rothie beat Longside 5-4 in their first junior match last November, and went on to defeat Fraserburgh United home and away to top their group.
They face a tough opener at Forres, who led division for most of the last league season in 2019-20 and will be strong contenders for promotion in the nine-club, third-tier league.
Two clubs will be promoted from the Second Division, with Islavale hosting Glentanar and New Elgin at home to Cruden Bay while Whitehills take on Newmachar United.
Burghead Thistle are the only one of the 31 north junior sides without a fixture on Saturday as they are the odd club out.
Saturday's Second Division fixtures:
Forres Thistle v Rothie Rovers
Islavale v Glentanar
New Elgin v Cruden Bay
Whitehills v Newmachar United
In the First Division, eight clubs do battle with just the bottom club being relegated this term.Dufftown make the journey to Aberdeen to take on Sunnybank on day one.
Saturday's First Division fixtures:
Aberdeen University v Buchanhaven Hearts
Fraserburgh United v Longside
Stonehaven v Stoneywood Parkvale
Sunnybank v Dufftown
Deveronside begin another Superleague campaign at home to Dyce Juniors.
Banks o' Dee host Maud and begin as favourites to win the 14-club Superleague and advance to a possible Highland League play-off match.
Saturday's Superleague fixtures:
Aberdeen East End v Nairn St Ninian
Banchory St Ternan v Montrose Roselea
Banks o' Dee v Maud
Bridge of Don Thistle v Hermes
Colony Park v Hall Russell United
Culter v Ellon United
Deveronside v Dyce Juniors
For the first time this season, the Superleague forms one of three divisions in the sixth tier of the Scottish football pyramid alomngside the North Caledonian League and the brand new Midlands League, made up of former clubs from the East Region juniors.
The winners of the three feeder divisions, if they meet Scottish FA licensing criteria, will advance to a play-off for the right to take on the bottom team in the Highland League, aiming to take their place next season.