A SPICY Essex derby tops the bill in the Ryman Premier League on the opening weekend of the season with Billericay Town and Grays Athletic locking horns.

Craig Edwards side will host a new look Grays Athletic, led by Jody Brown, at New Lodge on Saturday, August 9 with both sides eager to get off to the best possible start for the new season.

Billericay struggled at home last season, picking up the majority of their points on the road and they will be looking for similar away form early on, with trips to Leiston, Lewes and the well-funded Margate in the first month of the season.

Canvey Island face a tough opener against Bognor Regis Town, who made the play-offs last season and follow that up with a trip to local rivals East Thurrock United. A visit to Peacehaven & Telscombe and home games against Met Police and Enfield Town conclude August.

East Thurrock have arguably the toughest opening game against AFC Hornchurch, who only missed out on promotion to the Conference South after defeat in the play-off final. After the derby against Canvey Island, they play Wingate & Finchley at Rookery Hill, the side who had a reprieve having been relegated on the final day, due to Rocks' 3-2 win. They also play Margate and Hendon in August.

In the Ryman North Division, Great Wakering Rovers start their journey in the division at Needham Market. They start at Burroughs Park against Brentwood Town, with a visit to the much-fancied Harlow Town coming at the end of the month.

Other fixtures:

Boxing Day - Grays Athletic vs East Thurrock United, Witham Town vs Canvey Island, Burnham Ramblers vs Romford, Billericay Town vs AFC Hornchurch

New Years Day - Canvey Island vs Bury Town, East Thurrock United vs Billericay Town, Great Wakering Rovers vs Romford

Final Day (Saturday, April 26) - Canvey Island vs Wingate & Finchley, Maidstone United vs East Thurrock United, VCD Athletic vs Billericay Town, Aveley vs Great Wakering Rovers