Lancashire is a county in the North West of England and prior to 1974 included the metropolitan counties of Liverpool and Manchester. The people of these two massive cities still regard themselves as Lancastrians so these two cities will be regarded as being part of the county. The population of the region is around 8 million people and grew as a major commercial and industrial region during the Industrial Revolution. During the 1830s 85% of the world’s cotton was being produced in the county and as well as Manchester and Liverpool growing into major conurbations, mill towns started to emerge.
Sport has always been a strong feature of the county. As people moved into the cities in the 19th century people started to look at what they could do with their spare time and sport became a major factor with many people both participating and spectating in a variety of different sports. There are 15 sides in this historical county that play in the football league with five of them currently in the Premiership.
Aintree is one of the most famous race courses in the world and is located just outside of Liverpool hosting the annual Grand National a race, that has been run for 170 years. As well as being televised globally the event attracts around 75,000 spectators.
Test match cricket is held at the Old Trafford Cricket ground and county cricket has also been hosted in Liverpool and Blackpool. The county is also home to one of the strongest club competitions in the country, the “Lancashire League”. Rugby League is a popular sport in the area with 3 sides in the Super League. The attendances at the AJ Bell Stadium, Langtree Park and the DW Stadium reflect the popularity of the Salford Reds, St Helens and Wigan respectively.
There are many indoor stadiums for sporting events. The Echo Arena in Liverpool has hosted boxing, judo, netball and tennis events in front of 11,000 spectators. The Manchester Centre hosted the gymnastics, the judo, and the weightlifting during the 2002 Commonwealth Games. The venue with the largest indoor seating capacity in the UK is the Manchester arena with a capacity of 21,000 spectators. It has held a wide variety of sports events including ice hockey, swimming, basketball and boxing.
The National Cycling Centre is located in Manchester. The site includes the Velodrome which hosts the Olympic standard cycling track and holds 3,500 spectators. At the site is also the BMX arena with enough room for 2,000 spectators. There is even an outdoor BMX track, plus a mountain bike trail that makes its way through the surrounding Clayton Vale area.
The Golf courses in the county have hosted a number of Opens in previous years. The Open has been held at the Royal Liverpool, Royal Birkdale and Royal Lytham and St Anne’s. These links courses have given many Lancastrians the opportunity to watch the world’s best golfers in action.
Lancashire is very much a sporting county. Its sporting history was very much behind the decision to host the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, and each week there is a sporting event hosted in the area of an international standard.