Tangerines and Lilywhites – a history of the West Lancashire derby

Footballing rivalry is a staple of the British game.

Part of the love we harbour for English football stems from our hatred for rival clubs, its a foundation stone of the beautiful game.

North hate south, United hate City, neighbouring towns, clubs, title rivals and more all converge round the Memphis of hatred and it feeds them.

When it comes to Lancashire we have some pretty tasty rivalries but few come close to the fabled West Lancashire Derby; also known as the M55 derby.

Blackpool against Preston, the Tangerines and the Lilywhites, orange and white, or, if you happen to be standing on the terraces egging on your team, it’s the Donkey Lashers against the Nobbers.

It’s a unique derby; one that grew out of a hatred between fans rather than a hatred between clubs but one that has permeated to the point that even the higher echelons of each team have expressed their distaste for the one other over the years with the likes of Karl Oysten putting his distaste on record.

This is the story of Blackpool FC and Preston North End, from humble beginnings at the inception of the football league to the modern day.

Worlds apart

Preston North End and Blackpool would not meet on the pitch until 1901.

It’s strange that two such historic clubs, formed mere miles from one another, should have waited so long to test one another on the field.

It was May 1880 when Preston North End, a cricket team who had turned to rugby, decided to give football a crack, birthing a football dynasty that would last for more than 140 years.

Like East Lancashire neighbours Darwen and Blackburn, North End were one of the first clubs to bring in professional players, hiring the so called Scotch Professors who became the first paid to play footballers in England.

This was a significant time for English football, northern mill towns and factories were establishing proper football teams and challenging the southern private school teams who had dominated the FA Cup for so long. The Old Etonions, The Royal Engineers, Wanderers and Oxford University were teams that had an iron grasp on English football in its amateur days; clubs stuffed full of privately educated gentlemen.

The classic Darwen FC team who made history in the FA Cup between 1878 and 1880.

But the tide was turning. Clubs like Preston, Darwen and Blackburn, as well as Burnley and Blackpool established later, were taking the beautiful game from the upper classes and making it their own.

On July 26, 1887, members of the old Victoria FC team, based in Blackpool’s Caunce Street, and Blackpool St John’s players, met at The Stanley Arms. Putting aside their rivalries, the two clubs decided to merge into one team which would represent the entire town. It was the inception of a new northern powerhouse; Blackpool FC.

Both Preston and Blackpool enjoyed early success in the late 19th century but from distinctly different perspectives.

Blackpool won the Lancashire Junior Cup and…

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