Shield success will get Tigers off to a flying start

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THE Mildenhall Fen Tigers will be looking to begin 2012 as they mean to go on — by winning the first trophy on offer this campaign.

Led by new captain Lewis Blackbird, the Tigers host the Dudley Heathens in Easter Sunday’s curtain raiser for the new season — a National Shield first leg encounter at West Row (4.45pm).

The Heathens are the current holders of the shield, with 2011’s National League Knockout Cup winners looking to wrestle it from them.

Co-promoter Michael Lee — whose side travel to Dudley’s Ladbroke Stadium for the second leg nine days later — said: “The intention is to go out there and beat Dudley.

“No-one knows anything about anyone at the moment, but Dudley are always strong and I assume they will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.

“It will be a good yard stick to how our boys are going to perform this year.

“The boys’ intentions are to try and win everything and getting the National League Shield would be a very good way to start the year.”

Mildenhall have been busy over the winter, adding rookies Josh Bates and Nathan Stoneman to the reserve berths while also signing National League winner Stefan Nielsen to the main body of the team.

Jack Hargreaves, Mark Baseby and Aaron Baseby have all departed, but there is plenty of familiarity with fans’ favourite Blackbird stepping up to the role of skipper, while Cameron Heeps, Joe Jacobs and Dan Halsey return for another season at West Row.

“I’m quietly confident we will have a successful year,” said Lee, whose side will have a pre-meeting practice behind closed door tomorrow. “A lot will be learned in the first 10 days of the season.

“I don’t look at losing — I feel confident in the team we have got to match what the boys achieved last year.”

Dudley boast an impressive line-up that many considered to have underachieved last season, with ex-Tiger Adam Roynon — a National League double winner during his time in Suffolk — leading the way at number one.

Tigers: Heeps, Jacobs, Nielsen, Halsey, Blackbird, Bates, Stoneman.

Dudley: Roynon, Morris, Bekker, Perry, White-Williams, Ritchings, Greenwood.

n Should weather cause any of the Tigers’ meetings to be postponed, will be updated. Alternatively, follow @BishDerek on Twitter.