Preston Cricket Club looking to reclaim former glories
Chairman Yunus Patel insists Preston are eager to be back where they feel they belong in the not too distant future.
The men from West Cliff were one of the founding members of the Northern League when it was formed in 1951.
However, the club is currently plying its trade in the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division after suffering relegation in 2018.
Dropping out of the league appeared inevitable for Preston once a system of promotion and relegation had been introduced to the local cricket scene in 2017.
Former title winners in 1970, Preston have been the Northern League’s whipping boys over the past decade.
In nine seasons, from 2010 to 2018, Preston finished bottom of the table no fewer than six times. They dropped out of the league three years after a wretched campaign which saw them fail to win a single game and finish with a minus-11 points tally.
Patel accepts the club hit rock bottom during that season and decided to overhaul the club from top to bottom.
He has set about improving the club’s infrastructure by the formation of a junior section which could prove fruitful in years to come.
And on the pitch, he is looking to build a side which can compete for promotion and then ultimately sustain itself in the Northern League. Although that may take time, Patel believes there is a scope for optimism at the club. In 2019,
Preston finished fourth in the Palace Shield and though results have been inconsistent this year so far, Patel believes his men can push on over the next three months.
“Absolutely the long-term aim is to get back into the Northern League,” said Patel, whose team host third-placed Barrow this weekend.
“But we want to go back there and be able to sustain ourselves at that level.
“In our first season in the Palace Shield, it looked like we were going to go straight back up.
“We were doing really well but then one of our key bowlers, Asif Mahmood, got injured and we ended up missing out.
“It was probably a blessing in disguise that we didn’t go up because we probably would have struggled and gone straight back down.
“We want to play at the highest level and there is a difference between the Palace Shield and the Northern League. We have always played in the Northern League. Historically, we were
one of the founder members.
“At one time we were a big Northern League club, but we lost our way and now we are looking to come back.”
Barrow – another former NL club – will be no easy task.
“They are going well,” said Patel, who watched his team beat Croston last weekend. “It’s going to be difficult game.”
NORTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE: Chorley v Fleetwood, Fulwood and Broughton v Lancaster, Garstang v Morecambe, Longridge v Kendal, Netherfield v Blackpool, St Annes v Leyland.
MOORE AND SMALLEY PALACE SHIELD PREMIER DIVISION: Kirkham and Wesham v Penwortham, Penrith v Croston, Preston v Barrow, South Shore v Great Eccleston, Thornton Cleveleys v Fylde, Vernon Carus v Eccleston.
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