It has been 11 long years since Blackpool and Preston North End clashed in the League but this weekend, the West Lancashire derby will be reignited in the Sky Bet Championship.
And fans of both Clubs will be hoping the decade-long wait was a worthwhile delay as the two lock horns in the EFL.
The teams involved
The West Lancashire derby, also known as the M55 derby, will no doubt be one of the main events in Tangerines and Lilywhites fans’ calendars for the 2021/22 EFL season.
Arch enemies for 120 years, Blackpool and Preston boast one of the most competitive rivalries in football history, and despite the long-awaited fixture being put on hold for some time, it hasn’t lost its shine.
Preston forward Tom Barkhuizen was handed his start in the EFL by hometown Club Blackpool, where he advanced through the ranks to the senior squad and eventually made his debut for the Tangerines in Round Two of the 2010/11 League Cup.
On the back of a successful loan spell at neighbouring Morecambe, the 28-year-old inked a permanent deal with the Shrimps before catching the eye of Preston, whom he made the switch to in November 2016.
Likewise, it will be a case of split loyalties for Brad Potts who crossed the divide from Blackpool to Preston via a shortcut through Barnsley.
The midfielder, who has become a cornerstone in the Preston side, departed Blackpool for Championship team Barnsley in 2017 where he spent two seasons before the Lilywhites came knocking.
Tangerines skipper Chris Maxwell was allowed to leave Preston on a free transfer in 2020 – an offer which Blackpool took their Lancashire rivals up on just two days later.
The goalkeeper quickly made inroads with the Blackpool faithful, despite his links to their fiercest local rivals where he spent four years between 2016 and 2020, and after becoming club captain, won the League One Golden Glove award for the 2020/21 season.
Last time out
When Blackpool won promotion to the Premier League in 2009/10, the West Lancashire derby was put on ice, having only recently returned following a seven-year sabbatical when the two teams plied their trade in different Leagues. Then, in 2010/11, as Blackpool were relegated back to the Championship from the top-flight, Preston were also demoted to League One.
Preston fans rejoiced in 2014/15 as they celebrated their promotion back to the Championship, whilst Blackpool were drawn back into League One, meaning the two Clubs have been kept apart for over 10 years.
Away from the Cup, Blackpool and Preston marked their 86th League meeting – and the last time the two teams went toe-to-toe in the League – in February 2010 with a goalless draw. The result left Ian Holloway and Darren Ferguson’s sides ninth and 11th in the Championship respectively.
Later in 2013, the League Cup provided a go-between for the two Clubs who hadn’t locked horns in three years, and Tom Clarke was the match-winner for Preston who ran out 1-0 winners.