THE confirmation of North One West fixtures is always an eagerly awaited event as it provides the scaffolding for coaches, players, club officials, members and supporters to begin building for the coming season.
Two games will bring a gleam to the eyes of the bean counters at the Vale of Lune in the shape of the visits of Kirkby Lonsdale and Fleetwood.
The prospect of two derby games in one season has been generating plenty of interest in both camps with a number of prospective sponsors showing interest once last season’s promotion and relegation issues had been confirmed.
Fleetwood finished top of North Lancashire/Cumbria and the last time the two clubs faced each other was in the 2008/09 season with the Vale winning at home, 36-0, but losing away at Melbourne Avenue, 12-9, an unexpected outcome in a North Lancashire/Cumbria fixture.
The Vale did however gain promotion via a play-off victory at Widnes.
League fixtures against Kirkby Lonsdale, who gained their place in North One West following a nail biting victory at home against New Brighton in a play-off game, 21-18, last occurred in the 2010/11 season when the Vale completed the double, 51-0 at home and 92-5 at Underley Park.
The fixture against Sale FC is another that is certain to capture the imagination. Sale FC carried the baton after Sale Sharks were formed as a fully professional outfit and still play at the famous Heywood Road ground in the traditional blue and white hoops colours, and in the 2011 season the club celebrated its 150th anniversary.
Sale FC have blazed a trail through the leagues culminating in a record breaking season in South Lancashire and Cheshire One when they not only went through the season undefeated, claiming the try bonus point in every game but also denying their opponents any crumb of comfort in the shape of a losing bonus point.
This forward thinking club racked up 1,486 points and only conceded 248 and have set their sights firmly on becoming the premier semi professional club in the area.
After one season in National League Three North, Altrincham Kersal are returning to the welcoming arms of North One West.
They were victorious in their two meetings against the Vale in 2009/10, at home 27-15 and earlier in the season at Powder House Lane, 19-3.
These five clubs will be added to the stock already in the North One West pot which suggests a rich casserole will be shortly bubbling away, perhaps not to the liking of those connoisseurs of nouvelle-cuisine, but more in harmony of the palates of those who prefer something traditional and robust, without too many pretensions.
At the moment the forthcoming season is only at the preparation stage but a glance at the menu will certainly whet the appetite and provide plenty to chew over and inwardly digest before the first dish is served up.
The Vale open their pre-season fixtures at home against Tyldesley, who finished fourth in South ancashire Cheshire One, on Saturday, August 11.
Their second game a week later will also be at home when Kendal, who were relegated from National League Two North at the end of last season, will be the visitors.
For their final game the Vale will travel to Yorkshire Division One club Ilkley on August 25.
A Vale A and Vikings squad will play at Penrith on August 18 with the return game against the Cumbrians being scheduled for the following week.