NON-ELITE sport, gyms and leisure centres return with a bang today as the second national lockdown ends.

After four weeks of suspensions in the continuing battle with the Covid-19 pandemic, all age ranges are looking to return to their activities as safely as they are allowed to do so and as quickly as possible from today.

The town's young swimmers have already been training in the town's pools before day-break and will be returning for more sessions this evening.

"They need to get back to their fitness from before lockdown," said a Warriors of Warrington Swimming Club spokesman.

The borough's three leisure centre 'Hub sites' - Orford, Great Sankey and Woolston - reopen today.

Other leisure sites, Broomfields Leisure Centre, Birchwood Leisure and Tennis Complex and Culcheth Community Campus, will reopen in the new year.

Golfers, many of whom felt they could have continued their sport in a safe manner during the lockdown but had to abide by the Government's decision to temporarily shut clubs down, are hitting courses in and around Warrington in their droves today and tee slots are expected to be busy in the days and weeks ahead.

And tonight will see the first football match played in the town since the latest lockdown when Warrington Rylands host Prescot Cables in a friendly at Gorsey Lane.

Then Blues are in FA Vase action with a trip to Jarrow on Saturday, while Warrington Town's match return comes next Tuesday against Marske United in the FA Trophy.

Dates for a return to league matches are not yet certain for either club.

Nearby Haydock Park will have some spectators at its race meeting today.

The four meetings are all in areas under tier two restrictions, though numbers will be kept substantially below 2,000 at first.

Haydock, one of four courses across the country under tier two restrictions holding race meetings today, will allow up to 1,000 spectators, with crowds to be in the hundreds at other meetings.

While pleasure angling was one of only a few sports allowed to continue during lockdown, matches were not allowed.

But Warrington Anglers' Association have confirmed their Mersey Match on Sunday and Disabled & Over 60s match on Monday make a return.

Warrington Rowing Club report that some of their junior squads will be making use of the gym facilities again in restricted numbers during the week, while at weekends full crews will be able to come together again on the River Mersey albeit with some guidelines to follow.

There's a ray of light for the town's rugby union players this week, after having not been able to play matches since March when last season was cut short and then the 2020-21 league campaign was cancelled.

Eagle RUFC coach Ste Yates, whose team won their league title last season, said: "The last few months have been difficult for Eagle. We had such a high when we won the league. Then lockdown happened the first time round and all rugby stopped.

"When we were allowed to start back up again some of the players found it hard to get back involved as they knew there wasn’t going to be any competitive fixtures for the rest of the year - there was no end game as it were.

"Then the second lockdown happened and we pretty much stopped altogether due to the fact there were no games.

"When the news broke this week that we could start training again with the potential to start arranging fixtures for December 18, there was a real buzz around the group.

"Even though the laws have been adapted to make it somewhat safe for us to play again, the lads cannot wait to get training and playing.

"We’ll be looking to arrange some friendlies with local teams for the new year."

Dave Harthill, under 17s coach at Warrington Rugby Union Club, added: "On Monday we heard that rugby is to resume in some form shortly, details are a bit sparse at the moment but as you can imagine, we can't wait."

Generally in elite sport under new rules since midnight, a maximum of 4,000 fans can be allowed at outdoor events in tier one – though only a small part of the nation is under the lowest level of restrictions.

In tier two areas, up to 2,000 people can be allowed in, though many clubs are hosting smaller test events before moving to that number.

Spectators will still be banned for areas under tier three restrictions.

On the national scene, 1,000 tickets have been sold for Championship matches between Wycombe and Stoke, and Luton against Norwich tonight.

In League One, Charlton have offered tickets via ballot for their match against MK Dons, while Shrewsbury have issued a small number for their game against Accrington.

Three hundred fans can attend the League Two fixture between Carlisle and Salford, with a limited number to be allowed in for Cambridge’s match against Mansfield.

Fans attending football matches must remain socially distant at all times, and must wear face marks as they enter the stadium and go to their seats.

They will also be told not to touch the ball if it comes near them, or to approach players before or after the game.

Other restrictions will be determined by individual clubs.

Tomorrow, the first European football fixture in England to have fans since March will take place when Arsenal host Rapid Vienna in the Europa League.

The club sold out an allocation of 2,000 tickets for the match within 20 minutes, having offered them to season-ticket holders on a first-come-first-served basis.

Fans are due to return to the Premier League at the weekend, firstly at the match between West Ham and Manchester United on Saturday.