We may be in middle of winter and dreaming of a white christmas, but it's already time to start planning those long trips to villages you've never heard of. Yes, the Hampshire League have just published their fixtures for the 2005 season - and as usual they've thrown up a few eyecatching encounters.
Perhaps the most intriguing fixtures take place on the final day of the season when the Thirds and Fourths both face their Bashley counterparts in a 'Kings of the Forest' double header. Unfortunately for Meg, his Fourth XI have drawn the short straw and take on their neighbours on the Bashley plastic. Mind you, at least it will save Taps from the humiliating possibility of witnessing Glyn Treagus scoring his 1000th run of the season as Bashley wrap up the Southern League title!!!
The Second XI begin their campaign on May 7th against Fareham & Crofton at the Sports Ground. A week later they travel to Eastleigh & Otterbourne - the captain no doubt hoping that his team all arrive safely this time! There are also long trips to US Portsmouth (May 21st) and Petersfield (July 30th) before the Seconds wrap up their season with a tricky fixture at Langley Manor. Assuming transfer negotiations have broken down by then, Wayne Smith will return to the Sports Ground with his newly-promoted Fawley side on August 6th.
The Thirds take on Godshill at Woodside in their opening match on May 7th before venturing to the picturesque surrounds of the Royal Victoria Country Park in Southampton the following week to take on Netley Sports.
The Fourth XI have been given a tough start to their season. They make the short trip to Fernhill to play New Milton Third XI on May 7th before hosting Bournemouth Thirds a week later. There are plenty of local derbies for Meg's men - they take on Sway (May 21st) and Pylewell Park (June 4th) at Woodside, and travel to Milford on Sea on July 23rd.
A full list of fixtures can be found on the Hampshire League website at www.hantscl.co.uk.