Preston Cricket Club ready for their first Palace Shield season
After tough times in recent years in the Northern League, Preston will be looking for better fortune after dropping into the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield.
Last season, the West Cliff outfit finished bottom of the Northern League with minus 11 points – failing to register a league win all summer.
Relegation to the Palace Shield ended their 65-year stay in the Northern League, having joined in 1953 from the Liverpool Competition.
A new division means new optimism for Preston, with chairman Yunus Patel keen for a fresh start. Patel told the Lancashire Post: “I have been involved at Preston since the 1970s when I was a schoolboy.
“For the last couple of years I took a bit of a backseat but I’ve come back to try and resurrect the club.
“We’ve fallen on hard times recently but hopefully we can get going again.
“There are a lot of clubs in the area, we’re not in such an affluent part of Preston so it has been difficult.
“We’ve recruited some new players and we’ll see how we do in the Palace Shield.
“Lancashire Cricket Club and ourselves are putting a programme together to help encourage children to play soft-ball cricket, it is all part of trying to grow the club.
“We are one of the oldest clubs in England.”
Although Preston have been relegated to the Palace Shield, it is a tough division which awaits.
They start the new season tomorrow with an away game at Standish who themselves are new to the top flight after winning Division One last term.
Patel said: “Our first team start against Standish and the seconds are at home to Longridge. There are more local clubs in the Palace Shield which will hopefully mean more people coming to our ground and enjoying the use of our bar and facilities.
“Penwortham and Vernon Carus are very nearby, while the second XI are in with some local teams too.
“This is a new start for us and we are optimistic about how things will go.”
Morecambe made the drop alongside Preston, and they start the campaign with a visit to Fylde.
Vernon Carus, always one of the title contenders in the division, start up against South Shore at Factory Lane.
Penwortham welcome Croston to Middleforth Green, while Lancaster host Great Eccleston.
Eccleston have a home game with New Longton.
Palace Shield: Eccleston v New Longton, Fylde v Morecambe, Lancasyter v Great Eccleston, Penwortham v Croston, Standish v Preston, Vernon Carus v South Shore.
Northern League: Blackpool v Fleetwood, Chorley v Fulwood and Broughton, Garstang v Barrow, Leyland v Kendal, Netherfield v Longridge, Penrith v St Annes.