IF you talk to people outside Bolton about local cricket you could be mistaken for thinking we are a different breed here.

There have been a lot of changes in league structures all over Lancashire and Greater Manchester over the last few years with leagues folding, merging and starting up.

The idea put across by those at the heart of this revolution is it’s a new way of doing things, a more modern way.

In reality it’s not. It’s just the same ol’ same ol’.

Bolton remained steadfastly resistant to being swallowed up by the new world and has been looked down upon by many outside the town for it since.

They regard the game here as suffering from a small-time mentality.

Small in size the Bolton League may be, but small in any other way it certainly is not.

To say Bolton is a hotbed of local cricket is an understatement.

It is one town with 20 clubs, the vast majority of which are situated within the town boundaries and the others are on the doorstep.

It is the only town league in an area where all the others cover vastly bigger expanses of the North West.

The Liverpool Competition spreads from North Wales to West Lancashire, the Greater Manchester League from Glossop to Egerton to Wigan to Rochdale, and the Northern League from Chorley to Barrow.

One accusation that could never be aimed at Bolton is it doesn’t pull its weight.

Its clubs regularly get to the business end of the Lancashire cup competition and has the second best record in terms of both winning it and reaching the final.

And it is certainly not short on providing players for Lancashire.

This week another local lad who came through the ranks in the Bolton League was given his first professional contract with Lancashire.

Josh Bohannon joins fellow Boltonians and former Bolton League juniors Matt Parkinson and Haseeb Hameed on the Old Trafford payroll.

All three played in the same age group as juniors in Bolton along with Parkinson’s twin Callum who is a pro at Leicestershire.

And when you think established Lancashire first-team player, Bolton-born Karl Brown, played his formative cricketing years in the sadly now-defunct Bolton Association the Red Rose side could potentially turn out a team comprising four Bolton men next season.

But nothing good comes easy. Bolton has a cricketing heritage to be proud of because it works at it.

Dedicated coaches work year round developing players, both seniors and juniors.

Horwich Cricket Club’s junior practice sessions start tonight at Rivington and Blackrod High School and will continue every week up to the start of next season.

Tonge Cricket Club’s senior practice starts on Sunday at St Catherine’s Academy in Breightmet, and the story is the same with other clubs.

The practice will take six months for a season that lasts for four. That’s how you create success.

There is certainly something in the water in this town when it comes to cricket, and always has been ever since the Association became the first league in Lancashire way back in 1888.

The best clubs then broke away and formed the Bolton League in 1930 and since then it has had a feared reputation for playing hard but fair cricket.

Much of that is based on fearsome rivalries which have built up over the decades which can only come from local clubs playing each other for the bragging rights of the town or neighbouring villages.

It has also been equally important in the Bolton League to shake hands and go for a pint afterwards, stories being passed down the generations of clubs battling it out no-holds-barred all day and then bumping into each other that night in Bolton town centre and going through the day’s events over a few drinks.

Yes, Bolton may be a small town to have its own league and, yes, the Bolton League may cover a tiny patch of land compared to other leagues. But it can and always has been able to stand its ground, hold its head high and produce as much or more competitive cricket and talented cricketers as anyone.