Steve Wilkes wears his heart on his sleeve. But the Padiham boss won’t be donning his Manchester United colours on his torso for Sunday’s derby.
The Old Trafford season ticket holder will be surrounded by a sizeable crowd that boycotted the 13-time Premier League champions in 2005 following Malcolm Glazer’s takeover as the Storks take on FC United in the FA Trophy.
Louis Van Gaal’s side face their “noisy neighbours”, who won their second Premier League title last season, at the City of Manchester Stadium at 1-30 p.m. with Padiham’s tie at Stalybridge Celtic’s Bower Fold getting underway at 3 p.m.
“It’s a great fixture for the club and a nice game to look forward to,” Wilkes said. “It’s just a shame that the Manchester derby is on at the same time. This is a great opportunity for everyone at Padiham.
“It’s a great tie for us but there’s no reason why we can’t go there and win. I’ll have to do the quickest ever team talk though so I can get in to the bar and watch the end of the Man United v Man City game!”
In Wilkes’s first spell at the Arbories, with the club competing in the North West Counties Second Division, Padiham travelled to Bury’s Gigg Lane to tackle the Red Rebels in their first ever home fixture. The hosts won the game 3-2 though that didn’t prevent Wilkes from enjoying the occasion.
“We played FC United in their first ever home game at Gigg Lane,” Wilkes reminisced. “There was just under 2,500 people on. The atmosphere was brilliant because the supporters never stopped singing.
“They were all United songs and my assistant at the time, Paul Baker, had to tell me to stop singing along. I was bouncing up and down on the touchline and joining in. I’m older and wiser now so I don’t think it’ll happen again. It’ll be a great day all round if United can beat City and we beat FC United.”
Ahead of the tie with the Evo-Stik Premier Division outfit, Wilkes admits that the mood is changing around the Arbories. After threatening to fall adrift at the foot of the First Division North table, Padiham’s fortunes are improving with one defeat in five.
Brett Ormerod’s hat-trick in the 4-2 replay triumph over Brigg Town in the Preliminary Round of the Trophy was followed up by an impressive 3-1 win over Farsley AFC where striker Ben Allen announced his return to the scoresheet.
“The way we’ve played has been encouraging,” said Wilkes, prior to Padiham’s midweek defeat to Droylsden. “The last week has been massive for us. But there’s still a long way to go so we’ll be taking small steps. We can’t get carried away.
“The pleasing thing as well is that Brett Ormerod scored a hat-trick. He started to feel a little bit of pressure but he scored three great poachers goals and then added to it with a superb goal at the weekend, and a penalty on Tuesday night. Ben Allen scored too which is great for him. They’re looking very good together up top.”