BRIDLINGTON’S new director of rugby Rich Girking believes at least six teams have a chance of winning the Yorkshire One title.
After a fourth-placed finish last season, Bridlington will be looking to go one step further when their campaign begins with a home match against Pontefract on Saturday.
But that could be a tough task as the club have been through a summer of transition and Girking expects the division to be even stronger this season.
“We would like to be able to improve on fourth and to be competitive in every game,” he told the Free Press.
“We have got a good base to work from after last season, although some people might say we massively over-achieved.
“At the start of last season, if someone had said we would finish fourth, we would have snapped their hand off.
“But having led the league for two-thirds of the season, you could also argue that we under-achieved by finishing fourth in the end.”
As for the title favourites for 2012/13, Girking believes there are plenty of contenders for promotion.
“I know Driffield expected to go straight back up last season, so they will be stronger.
“They and Scarborough have under-achieved in recent years and that cannot continue. They would have expected to do better.
“York and Ilkley will be tough sides and Old Brodleians have come down and that is always a hard place to go and win because their pitch is worth a 10-point start to them.”
There have been wholesale changes at the club in recent months, with Girking taking over the director of rugby role from Kieran Lawry, who is one of three experienced players stepping down from first-team action.
Girking said: “After threatening to retire for about the past five years, Mark Floyd reckons he has hung his boots up.
“Jamie Muru has retired too although we are hopeful that we might be able to persuade them back with the offer of a pint of stout or a rum and coke.
“We have a new loose-head prop from New Zealand, Ezra Luxton, to fill Mark’s huge boots. Two of the New Zealand lads from last year, James Thompson and Morgan Kinnaird have stayed for another season, but the third Woody Cookson has gone home.
“We also have two guys returning, flanker Lee Warley and Callum Cappleman, who are good regular first-team players who haven’t played for a couple of seasons.
“However, Gareth Roberts is unlikely to be available so much as he is in the final year of his teaching degree at Newcastle University.
“Paddy Waines is also at university and we are losing a number of second team lads who are off to university too.”
As well as the changes on the pitch, there have been changes to the club’s management.
Gordy Morrice has returned as chairman, while Girking, himself a former first team captain, will be assisted by head coach Muru, Floyd and Robin Shepherdson.
“The main objective of the club this year is to get the minis and juniors sections up and running again and getting more players, coaches and parents involved.
“I’m confident we can do well and have a successful season, and get the second team working more closely involved with the firsts,” said Girking.
He is braced for a tough start when Pontefract visit Dukes Park on Saturday. They will be looking for revenge after Bridlington beat them in the semi final of last season’s Yorkshire Shield.
Girking added: “We will come up against some good, experienced players every week. We will try to get off to a good start, although Pontefract are a useful, physical side who I think still have an ex England player in Derek Eves in the side, and they are coached by an ex-Leeds Tykes coach.”