TWO major Birdseye Sports Evesham Sunday Football League clubs have quit on the eve of the new season.

Long-running Evesham side Red Horse and Tewkesbury’s Black Bear both withdrew from Division One since the annual meeting due to a lack of commitment from players.

The campaign will start on Sunday without Bear or Horse with the latter having only missed one season in 1998-99 since the league was formed in 1970.

With only eight teams in the top-flight now, competition chiefs have gained permission from Worcestershire FA to run a one-off cup for Division One outfits.

It will consist of two groups of four, playing home and away, giving sides at least a further six matches. Red Horse secretary and co-founder Bruce Hodgkins said manager Robbie Harris stepped down to just a playing role due to business commitments and their squad had broken up.

Hodgkins admitted: “We tried to get a team together with young lads and a few older players but unfortunately couldn’t get enough to sustain a side at that level.

“So it’s down to a lack of players.

When I started the team in 1969 and you had 14 or 15 blokes, you thought you had too many because you couldn’t give them all a game. But they (footballers) are a different animal now.”

But all is not lost for Red Horse who intend to continue raising funds for the club and for charity — and they may look to make a return in 2013-14.

Hodgkins added the team played several pre-season fixtures on the pitches by Evesham United’s Spiers and Hartwell Jubilee Stadium and had looked forward to using the new facility more. The Horsemen enjoyed varied success over the years yet the Division One title eluded them until 2010-11.

They finished third last season but Black Bear, who played in Northway and advanced through the divisions to the topflight, were runners-up behind champions Bretforton Old Boys.