Lowerhouse captain Heap hoping for a repeat of derby debut at Liverpool Road
Lowerhouse captain Ben Heap remembers his first Lancashire League derby against Burnley like it was yesterday.
The newly-appointed skipper had just celebrated his 16th birthday when the club’s rivals landed at Liverpool Road.
It was only his fourth appearance for the senior side after making his debut against Bacup at Lanehead in September, 2003.
But the teenager played beyond his years, helping the West Enders to a three-wicket win when firing a couple of Burnley professional Kerry Jeremy’s deliveries to the boundary.
“I’ve seen the rivalry grow since I first came here,” he said. “I remember my first derby game too as a teenager. I look back on that day fondly.
“I came on at the tail end and hit a couple of fours off their pro at the time, Kerry Jeremy. We won the game so hopefully we can replicate that.”
Obviously a lot has changed since then. Lowerhouse have won the league four times, the Worsley Cup twice, including that season, and the Twenty20 competition once.
Burnley have broken multiple records and secured silverware of their own which, if anything, has intensified the rivalry even more.
Ahead of his first derby with the armband, Heap said: “Over the last couple of years it has intensified quite a bit. I put that down to the fact that we’ve had quite a bit of success since the start of the Millennium.
“Success accelerates that rivalry even more because it doesn’t go down too well with the opposition. It’s definitely become more competitive. It can be quite fierce now.
“But out on the field you’ve got to try and keep control of your emotions if you’re going to get the win.
“It’s no secret that this is one of the highest attended amateur cricket matches in Lancashire and everyone looks forward to it. It’s great for cricket and it’s great for local sport.
“Will we need a team talk? Definitely not. It’s the first derby of a new era for both clubs so it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out.
“There’s been plenty of change at both clubs but it doesn’t change the fact that we’ll both be desperate for 12 points.”