Lancashire has had a major role to play in English football from its earliest days to the present. The county's leading clubs were largely responsible for the introduction of professionalism in the 1880s, after Preston North End admitted paying their players, and the world's first Football League was divided between teams from the North West and the Midlands. Preston's 'Invincibles' triumphed in that first competition before adding the FA Cup that two different Blackburn clubs had already won - and soon the great clubs of Merseyside and Manchester were winning their first trophies.
As the turf wars developed, Blackpool, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Bury and Oldham all made their mark in the top division; clubs such as Rochdale and Wigan fought the good fight in rugby hotbeds; and more recently Fleetwood and Morecambe have carried the name of their towns further afield. This is the story of these great rivals, their triumphs, scandals and tragedies, and the great players who have kept the red rose to the fore at home and abroad.