IT’S a league brimming with history, a league that has put little East Lancashire towns like Rawtenstall, Bacup, Nelson, Haslingden, Accrington and Colne on the map.
The Foster’s Lancashire League is special. People around the globe have heard of it and its member clubs.
For a season 27 years ago Rishton was the team everyone wanted to watch as the greatest cricketer of many an era Viv Richards plied his trade on Blackburn Road.
Of course those days of the biggest name professionals have pretty much gone thanks to the advent of the cash cow that is the Indian Premier League and a calendar that sees round the year Test cricket.
Clubs still manage to attract good players and South Africa could field an entire Test side from their centrally contracted players who have learned their trade in the league.
The other Test nations too have more than their fair share of graduates of the little league in a little corner of Lancashire.
There is still plenty of quality and possible stars of the future on display and when the umpires call ‘play’ on seven grounds on Sunday the spectators will be witnessing action that few leagues can match.
And this year – okay I say it every year – could be a cracking season.
Accrington will make a stout defence of their crown while Haslingden, with their quite magnificent Jamaican ex-West Indies Test man Brenton Parchment, will fancy their chances of picking up some silverware.
Recent kings Lowerhouse are also right in the frame while Burnley are my tip for the big one this year.
That is a club with a seemingly endless stream of amateurs who go into the county game.
Chairman Michael Brown, his brother David and of course James Anderson learned their cricket on Turf Moor – and if Derbyshire’s Jonathan Clare is available for his hometown club on a regular basis they will take some stopping.
Despite the critics of cricket, this league is far from dead.