LOSTOCK aim to prove they are a different proposition to the one that was last in the Bolton Association nine years ago.

For a few seasons before they were suspended from the league in 2005 due to pitch problems, they struggled at the wrong end of the table.

After spending the last eight years in the Manchester Association, they are back and looking to give everyone a hard game.

Captain Geoff Earle said: “I get the feeling a couple of teams remember us from last time when we were at the bottom of the league.

“I think we have surprised teams and we will just look to be competitive, which we are.”

Lostock have developed a culture of fighting over the last decade, steadfastly refusing to die despite desperate times.

More than half the current team have gone through the whole experience of leaving the Association for the Manchester Association, playing home games at Haydock Cricket Club for the last six years, and having the threat of folding hanging over them throughout much of those last eight years.

That they survived is down to the dedication and commitment of their officials and players who were determined to see out the bad times and build a better future for the club.

They have been rewarded with an impressive new ground, which is part of a purpose-built sporting complex currently being built on Chew Moor Lane in Lostock, and a team with a fighting spirit, an appreciation of being back in the Association and a dedication to their club.

Lostock are at home to Darcy Lever today in the league and Bury tomorrow in the Cross Cup, the latter being the last of the two trophies they won during their 55 years in the Association split over two spells.

Both weekend games will take place at Haydock where they will continue to play their home games before moving to the new ground next year.

They had a flying start to the season, beating Worsley before losing the next two against Blackrod and Atherton.

And Earle is happy with the account they have given of themselves so far.

“It’s a bit of a step up in standard this season and we are looking to be competitive,” he said.

“We have got a point to prove. We have really been looking forward to the season since we finished last year.

“It is massively exciting and a big challenge.

“We got a good win against a team we knew from last year in the Manchester Association. A couple of errors cost us in the games we lost and we were in both those games until the end.

“The atmosphere in the dressing room is absolutely brilliant. There is a great team ethic and that is probably what has kept us going.

“Six or seven of the lads in the team were playing the last time we were in the Association.

“They were all 17 then and playing in the firsts and seconds.

“We’re a young team, most of the players are between 20 and 28.

“Danny Cockton was first-team captain when we left. He’s still playing and not old at 33.

“Luqmann Issa has been playing for 25 years and most of the rest of the team have been with the club for 10 to 15 years.

“David Flanagan is going to be our 18-over bowler most weeks and his brother, Peter, is one of our key batsmen coming in at number four.

“We bat down to 11 and we have a solid bowling attack.

“We have paid an overseas amateur in Aaron Mullins, an Australian who is a batting all-rounder, and we got a coach in last year, Shahid Mahboob.”

On the ambitions and expectations for the club and the team, Earle said: “No one ever complained about playing home games at Haydock, everyone got on with it and did what they had to do.

“We have tried to keep that progress going on the pitch, there’s a great atmosphere and the ground’s well under way.

“It’s all positive and we’re looking to continue progressing.

“Coming back to the Association has given us that extra lift to push and focus everyone.”