Dalton are to bridge a six-year gap by going back to the North West Men’s League for the coming season.

Having swept the board in the Barrow and District League last season, picking up six trophies, the Crooklands side are preparing to test their young squad in the First Division of the NWML.

Coach Dave High has built up a strong and young squad, which has seen no less than nine players being involved with Furness Raiders during the winter.

Chairman John Winward said: “We applied to go in the National Conference, but they decided to run with what they’ve got and never accepted any of the applicants.

“It’s nice to be back in the North West League after a six year stint away. Over the last couple of years in the Barrow League, the young squad have really come of age. It is going to be a good test for Dalton, and the players are going to have to learn once more at a higher standard of rugby.”

One young lad who shone for Dalton in recent years is Ryan Johnston who is looking for a big season with Barrow Raiders. Also featuring, and giving a good account for himself in the Raiders’ two pre-season friendlies, was Joe Crarey.

High said: “It is a big step forward, but a move we had to make, but at the same time we’re gutted there’s no Conference place for us.

“We see the move as bringing on the lads who are all up for it. We are only a small and young side but we play great rugby. Joe Crarey a young lad who is so experienced, along with Ryan Baines, who will lead from the front.

“The Barrow League was good for the lads, but we couldn’t stay there, we must progress. My ideal situation would be for all the clubs to come back home, but it won’t happen.”

“The highlight of last season, albeit after we won six trophies, was meeting Millom in the semi-final of the Barton Townley Cup.

“We have a good mini section and once more young kids will soon be pushing for first team shirts, which is good as it keeps players on their toes, looking over their shoulders.”

Following a season in the NWML, Dalton spent three years in the winter Pennine League, which brought new clubs to the area before they rebuilt in the Barrow League for three seasons.