25 years ago in April 1995, after many years of trying, Fylde won the Lancashire Cup under the guidance of Coach Graham Smith and skipper, the late Brendan Hanavan. They defeated Manchester by 15-11 at Lightfoot Green with tries by flanker Ian Ashton and winger Greg Anderton. Ian Barclay dropped a goal and converted one of the tries.
Although Manchester were one or two leagues below Fylde at that time, they put in a spirited performance and led 11-3 going into the final 20 minutes. Late tries won the handsome trophy for Fylde.
In 1995 the English game was on the brink of professionalism and both Fylde and Manchester jumped on the roller coaster. Fylde strengthened their squad and in the 1996-7 season won promotion from level 3 to the Allied Dunbar Premiership Two as it was known then and became one of the top 24 clubs in the country. Two very difficult season followed during which the Club was unable to compete with opponents pouring money into player recruitment. They were relegated at the end of the 1998-9 season and slipped back to level 3, known as National Two at that time.
Meanwhile, Manchester were going in the opposite direction, winning promotion to level 2. One relegation followed before they climbed back to level 2 in 2008. A second relegation at the end of the 2008/9 season began a calamitous decline during which they lost over 75 consecutive matches and plunged down the divisions. It was pleasing to see arguably one of the three or four oldest of English clubs beginning their climb up the divisions once again when they finished champions of North Two West (level 7), at the end of the 2019-20 season.
Fylde went on to win the Lancashire Cup on three more occasions, twice v Preston Grasshoppers in 2008-9 & 2009-10, and in 2010-11 when Rossendale pulled out of the Final due to league pressures.
The first Lancashire Cup season was in 1971-72 and the early years were dominated by Orrell, Waterloo & Liverpool. The aggregate count of winners spans 10 clubs in all: Orrell (10), Waterloo (7), Liverpool SH (5), Fylde (4), Sedgley (4), Manchester (3), Preston G (3), Vale of Lune (2), West Park (2), Widnes (2).
The last final was in 2012-13 when Sedgley Park edged home against ‘Hoppers by 28-24. By this time, clubs were much keener to concentrate on their league priorities.