There are few certainties at this early stage of the season but one is that the clash of Pollok and Arthurlie is about so much more than fine-tuning preparations even if the start of the new league campaign is only three weeks away.

The head to head of the long standing bitter rivals transcends the very description of “pre-season friendly” and would almost certainly have drawn one of the biggest Newlandsfield crowds of the coming season had Covid’s Level 2 restrictions not limited the capacity at the Southside ground to 250.

The issued tickets were, as you might expect, quickly snapped up and the game is a sell-out with the lucky ones among the Lok supporting legions set to provide a very audible presence on the terracing slopes.

Today’s locking of horns is the first between the clubs in almost two years after both took the decision to sit out the inaugural WoSFL campaign (later cancelled) because of Covid  19 restrictions.

The Barrhead outfit may have fallen on leaner times in recent seasons but going up against their well-to-do near neighbours is sure to have their players at it according to Lok gaffer Murdie McKinnon.

He said :“Games between us and Arthurlie tend to get the hairs standing up on the back of your neck and it’s just a pity that so many supporters on both sides of the fence will not have the opportunity to see it.

“It’s a third testing encounter  in the past week for our guys after taking on both  Auchinleck Talbot and Linlithgow Rose so there’s no denying we could have chosen a gentler introduction to playing action but our belief is we will learn a lot more in  these games than from pitting ourselves  against  so called lesser opposition.

“It’s on the nail to say our performances so far have been mixed with Talbot embarassingly turning us over 4-0 and causing me to question the desire and  appetite of the guys however the midweek showing against Linlithgow was infinitely better and far  more deserving than the 1-0 scoreline in our favour.

“Now comes arguably our biggest rivals and I daresay our toughest opposition to date because you can bet  the  Arthurlie players will be extra fired up to prove they are a Conference League club in name alone.

McKinnon added: “Their management team of Andy McFadden and George Fotheringham are steeped in the game at  Under 21 level and have brought together an array of  young up and coming talents but there’s also a core of experience running through their team from the likes of Kris Gebbie, Jordan Leyden and  Dale  Simeon.

“Adding  to the mix their recent striker signings of  Tam McGaughey (Darvel) and Nadeem Zeb (Blantyre Vics) is indicative of d a very strong side that is sure to test our players  all over the pitch.”

Lok skipper Paul Gallagher, full back Evan Horne and winger Alex McWatters, the only home team players to start in both Pollok games this week, may receive an overdue rest rested as McKinnon looks to the other defensive permutations.

He added: “Saturday’s game might be coming  a few days too soon for Grant and there’s no need to take risks because he’ll have the chance to acquire match fitness in other games coming up .

“And we don’t need to push him  as we are well covered defensively and the same applies further forward because Stephen  McDevitt, Del Esplin ,Adam Forde and Callum Graham are all champing at the bit after sitting out the Linlithgow game.”

Among other friendly affairs,  WoSFL top flight rivals Glenafton and Largs Thistle clash in a rearranged  match down at Loch Park while a couple of intriguing WoSFL v Lowland League contests are promised by Beith hosting the visit of East Kilbride  as well as Kilwinning Rangers heading East to face Bonnyrigg Rose.

On the transfer scene comes word of Drumchapel United bolstering their ranks with the signings of Martin Orr and the more travelled Gary Muir who was on the books of St Cadocs last time out but previously played for Darvel, Glenavon in Northern Ireland and Maltese big guns Silema Wanderers.

Vale of Clyde boss Mark Mackay has appointed a new assistant manager in the shape of Grham Cairns , formerly with Forth Wanderers while not so fortunate in the dugout front are Irvine Vics whose appointment of former Maryhill boss Alan Kelly just last weekend  has been short-lived in the extreme after 59 year old Kelly tendered his resignation on health grounds .

PLAYING TODAY (Various Kick Off times apply) 

Gartcairn v Troon, Ashfield v Drumchapel Utd, Vale of Leven v Maryhill, Beith v East Kilbride F.C., Muirkirk v Larkhall Thistle, Benburb v Stenhousemuir, Glenafton v LargsThistle, Bellshill Athletic v Royal Albert (Matt Busby Stadium), Kilsyth Rangers v KilsythAthletic,Neilston v Auchinleck Talbot, Craigmark v Port Glasgow, Bonnyrigg Rose v Kilwinning Rangers, Thorniewood Utd v Armadale Thistle, Bonnyton Thistle v Renfrew, Lugar Boswell v Ardrossan Winton Rovers, Newmains Utd v Forth Wanderers, Glasgow Utd v East Kilbride Thistle, Pollok v Arthurlie, Clydebank v Cumbernauld Colts, Newtongrange Star v Darvel, Lochar Thistle v Vale of Clyde, Threave Rovers v Cumnock, Glasgow University v Petershill, Greenock v Blantyre Vics.