Freckleton’s ‘golden generation’ are ready to take the next step and win the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division.
That is the view of skipper James Fiddler, who has watched the village club grow into a force to be reckoned with over the past few years.
It was back in 2011 that Freckleton gained promotion to the top flight after finishing runners-up to Torrisholme in Division One.
While Torrisholme struggled to make a mark in the Premier Division and were subsequently relegated, Freckleton have prospered.
Last year they were crowned Meyler Cup champions for the second successive season and also finished third behind title winners Vernon Carus and Penwortham.
Fiddler believes their success over recent seasons has been built around a group of young players who all hail from the village and have risen up through the ranks at Bush Lane together.
“We’re a close-knit squad with a lot of local lads who play for us,” Fiddler said.
“I think 90% of the team are from the village and there are six or seven lads playing in the first team who have all come through at the same time.
“Sometimes you get a couple of lads here and there from the juniors but to have six or seven...you could call it a bit of a golden generation.
“Lads like James Whitehead, Joshua Holden, Jonathan Millward, Andrew and Jamie Hogarth – they are good young players, who all seem to be doing a good job.
“We have done well especially when you think that we are a small club compared to other clubs like Penwortham, Vernon Carus and Fulwood and Broughton,
“We are probably the second or third smallest club in the league but over the last few years we have competed really well.
“We’ve won the Meyler Cup the last couple of years but we want to win the title – that’s the aim this year.”
Tomorrow Freckleton have a true test of their promotion credentials when they take on reigning champions Vernons away. Paul Chapman Jr’s men have begun the new season in ominous form, winning three in an unbeaten start to the campaign.
Freckleton have not done too badly either in the opening games – their only defeat arrived against F&B when they were without their skipper.
However, Fiddler, who has only lost one game as captain since taking over the reins last season from Jon Goodin, revealed he will be in the starting XI this weekend for the trip to Factory Lane to face his former club.
“We seem to do okay against Vernons,” Fiddler said. “We’ve not been beaten by them in the last few seasons.
“I used to play for them and I sort of know the ins and outs of their team.
“I like to study cricket and enjoy doing a bit of research and studying other teams.
“Vernons always seem to win the league nearly every year or every other year – I think if you finish above them, then you will probably win the league.
“They have got a lot of strength in depth in their squad but I talk to quite a few of their lads regularly and they think we are the team they have to watch this season.”
Garstang will be hoping to maintain their grip at the top when they visit F&B, while third-placed Great Eccleston are away to Fylde.
Leyland will be looking to make inroads at the top of the Northern League tomorrow when they travel to Kendal.
David Makinson’s men are currently in fourth spot in the table – 12 points off the top of the table.
However, leaders Darwen are without a game this weekend and Leyland can take advantage by winning their game in hand at Shap Road.
The Fox Lane outfit were inactive last weekend and will be looking to carry on where they left off two weeks ago when they crushed neighbours Preston by nine wickets at the Stanning Memorial Ground.
Meanwhile, Preston will be hoping to register their first win of the season when they host Netherfield at West Cliff tomorrow.
Saeed Bariwala’s men have only a losing draw and three defeats to show for their efforts this season, while last weekend’s fixture at home to Penrith was abandoned due to the weather.
Chorley have a busy weekend ahead of them as they prepare for a double header.
Tomorrow, they will fancy their chances of maximum points when they travel to Morecambe, who have yet to record a victory so far this year.
On Sunday, Andrew Holdsworth’s men welcome Lancashire Colts to Windsor Park.
NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE: Blackpool v Lancaster, Fleetwood v Penrith, Kendal v Leyland, Morecambe v Chorley, Preston v Netherfield, St Annes v Barrow. Sunday – Chorley v Lancashire Colts.
PALACE SHIELD PREMIER DIVISION: Fulwood and Broughton v Garstang, Fylde v Great Eccleston, Longridge v Thornton Cleveleys, Vernon Carus v Freckleton, Whittingham and Goosnargh v Penwortham, Withnell Fold v BAC/EE Preston