Padiham FC boss Steve Wilkes has spent a section of his summer marveling at life size Disney characters in Florida with the family.
But there’ll be no room for ‘Mickey Mouse’ antics when his adopted clan make history tomorrow as the Storks embark on their first Evo-Stik league venture.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” he said. “It seems such a long time ago since we sealed promotion at Runcorn Town but pre-season has gone well and we can’t wait for it to get started now.
“Steve Cunningham and Danny Craig have been fantastic and the lads are looking really fit. They’ve got the strength and character to hold their own at this level without a doubt. We want to keep pushing forward because there’s a momentum at the club. We are relishing the challenge.”
And there isn’t a lack of ambition where last season’s NWC Premier Division manager of the year is concerned: “We’re not going to go in to the season thinking negatively. We’re not just aiming for survival this term; there’s five places to aim for at the top so we’re targeting the play-offs. We might not achieve it but that’s the target.”
The club’s first test will be a stern one as Wilkes is pitted against close friend Lee Ashcroft and Northwich Victoria on unfamiliar territory. Ashcroft’s side culminated last term in eighth in the Evo-Stik First Division South table.
“It’s a really good game to start the season with,” Wilkes said. “They are the second favourites to win the division so it’ll be a good test. I’m good mates with their manager as well so it’ll be an interesting one..
“I’ve got possibly nine of the starting XI in mind. It’s a difficult one. There’ll be a couple of debutants starting on Saturday. We’ve watched Northwich in pre-season and I know Lee has been watching us. Hopefully we’ll be a surprise package. We won’t be going gung-ho against a side like that and if we come away unbeaten then it’ll be a very good result for us.”
Meanwhile, Wilkes has made two further additions to the squad ahead of kick-off. Former Nelson winger Max Jones has joined the Arbories ranks while Dean Overson, brother of Storks defender Jack, has made the move after being on Bradford City’s books.
“Max is like lightening and I bet there won’t be many quicker in the league. He was recommended to me by Mick Rathbone and his last recommendation was Ben Allen so I had to have a look at him.”