Optimism high with Yorkshire rivals out to emlulate Boro’s joy

Barnsley play-off final goalscorers Adam Hammill, Llyod Isgrove and Ashley Fletcher.
Barnsley play-off final goalscorers Adam Hammill, Llyod Isgrove and Ashley Fletcher.
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SO, here we go.

Just 67 days on from Barnsley bringing the curtain down on the 2015-16 fashion in such glorious fashion at Wembley, Yorkshire football is ready to do it all again.

Who is going to have a campaign to savour? Can the White Rose blossom in the Premier League? And what can supporters up and down the county look forward to in the coming weeks and months?

Anything seems possible right now thanks to slates having been wiped clean and optimism having been fired.

York City’s relegation together with Hull City following Middlesbrough into the top flight means Yorkshire has just eight representatives in the Football League, the lowest since the 2008-09 campaign that ended with Boro being relegated back to the Championship.

As with eight years ago, this term will start with the majority of our clubs in the second tier. Even allowing for Leicester City’s title win in May, the Championship remains the most unpredictable of divisions.

Newcastle United, following a summer of lavish spending, are strong favourites to go straight back up but can anyone say with any sort of conviction that this will be the case? Twelve months ago, Derby County were the bookies’ clear choice to finish top. It had been a similar story a year earlier, though this time Cardiff City and Fulham had also been strongly backed along with the Rams. The end result? Derby are still waiting to go up, while Cardiff and Fulham sank without trace in 2014-15.

This time around may be different, of course. But it would still be a brave punter willing to hand over any decent sized wager on who will prevail in the Championship.

As for our representatives, all will kick-off this weekend with a degree of optimism. Barnsley’s play-off and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy double means the club returns to the second tier after a two-year absence on a high. Huddersfield Town, thanks to a busy summer and 15,000 season ticket sales, are in a similar position and Rotherham United have a new manager in Alan Stubbs, while the appointment of Garry Monk – a year ago mentioned in some quarters as a future England boss – has given fans hope that Leeds United can put years of struggle behind them.

One Yorkshire heavyweight who did finally start punching its weight again last season was Sheffield Wednesday. Carlos Carvalhal, backed by ambitious chairman Dejphon Chansiri, transformed the outlook at Hillsborough and this could be a very, very big year for the Owls.

Across the Steel City, United will make a sixth attempt to escape League One. Chris Wilder is the man tasked with reviving the Blades, while Yorkshire’s other League One representative has a new manager after Stuart McCall succeeded Phil Parkinson at Bradford City.

Doncaster, following a second relegation in three years, fly the flag for the county in League Two. The last time Rovers arrived in the fourth tier after winning promotion from the Conference in 2003, they went straight up and hopes are high of a repeat.

Here supporters outline their hopes and fears ahead of 2016-17 kicking off....

Additional reporting: Leon Wobschall.