THE Foster’s Lancashire League breaks new ground today as the Bank Holiday brings a full programme of fixtures – with clubs keeping fingers crossed that the weather is set fair.
Bumper crowds are expected for the new date in the schedule with derby days largely on the agenda.
One of the keenest derbies of all takes place at Acre Bottom as Ramsbottom and Haslingden lock horns.
The rivals rare give an inch against each other with Ramsbottom captain Jonathan Fielding and Haslingden skipper Graham Knowles two of the best amateurs in the North West.
And with two eye-catching professionals in Pieter Malan and Harry Boam, there is extra spice.
South African Malan was a run machine in the Northern League for Barrow last term while New Zealander Boam won many friends and admirers in 2010 when he was paid man for Settle.
It is also Rossendale Valley derby time as Rawtenstall play host to Bacup in another match the captures the imagination of the two towns.
And there could be fireworks with Rawtenstall sub-pro Lou Vincent partial to a hard-hitting innings.
Hyndburn pride is at stake as Church and Accrington meet, while there are Burnley v Pendle clashes at Turf Moor and the Horsfield.
Steve Brunt’s Burnley host Neil Thompson’s Nelson, while defending champions Lowerhouse make the short journey to The Horsfield for their game with Matt Wilson’s Colne, who can beat anyone on their day.
East Lancashire’s former skipper Mark Bolton returns to the first team in place of Ben Westhead for the derby with Jimmy Bibby’s Rishton, who have former East Lancs batsman Craig Smith back in the side.
And Todmorden travel to Dill Hall Lane in the one clash of the day that isn’t a derby.