There’s a chance for Burnley to make history this season, but the expectations of Michael Brown and skipper Bharat Tripathi descend way beyond that.
Since the introduction of the Worsley Cup in 1919 nobody has claimed the silverware three years in succession.
But such ambition in the domestic cup competition comes secondary to a successful league campaign. “We will be aiming first and foremost for a top six finish,” said Tripathi. “Then a second defence of the Worsley Cup.”
Brown added: “Fortunately we’ve come out on top in the cup in recent years. We’ve got experience of winning those big games now which can only help. It’ll be a difficult first round against Haslingden.
“But the focus is on starting well in the league because on paper there’s no reason why we can’t challenge at the top end.”
Josh Whitehead is the only amateur to walk through the exit over the winter but his move to Rishton was cushioned by the acquisition of Tripathi’s brother, Vishal.
Burnley, who begin the campaign against Bacup on home soil on Sunday, following tomorrow’s Ron Singleton Colne Trophy replay against rivals Lowerhouse, have also retained the services of professional Chris Holt.
Meanwhile champions Lowerhouse, who have claimed three titles in four years, have seen significant change at Liverpool Road.
Joey Hawke, Ben Heap, Phil Haggerty, Jack Edgar, Ben Gorton and Oliver Bayliff have all parted company while teenage proteges Bradley Wright and Dominic Stuart have been added to the squad. Cobus Pienaar will again be the club’s pro.
“We have suffered depletion over the winter,” said chairman Stan Heaton. “But we’ve signed two very promising all-rounders. Both have impressed.”