Padiham assistant boss Danny Craig has coined a new meaning for the phrase “Going Dutch” ahead of the 2014/15 campaign.
Steve Wilkes’s second in command at the Arbories has sought knowledge and inspiration from a coach in Holland in a bid to extend and enhance his repertoire.
And Craig has returned the favour. While coaching across the Atlantic with Oregon Panthers several years ago, Craig struck up a friendship with FC Groningen’s academy coach Bote Talsma.
Now the pair have effectively engineered an exchange programme with the aim of travelling to Frank de Boer’s Eredivisie champions Ajax at some point next year. Bote recently spent five days in East Lancashire with Craig and watched Padiham’s U18s beat Hawaiian side Honolulu Galaxy 4-0.
The duo then oversaw a training session involving Burnley’s development squad alongside Terry Pashley and Andy Farrell, joined Padiham’s head of youth development Paul Gray, who is also Blackpool’s academy coach, to watch the Seasiders lose 2-1 to Walsall, before watching Sean Dyche’s Clarets beat Blackpool 1-0 in a pre-season friendly at Bloomfield Road.
After ending their football fix with a tour around Old Trafford, Craig said: “Bote has spoken to plenty of different people who have shared different ideas and philosophies about the game. It’s definitely been an education. It’s like an exchange programme and it’s all focussed on continued professional development.
“We are always gaining knowledge and it provides us with that step up. It’s a building process. At Padiham FC we’re eager to start producing our own players in a youth development programme. We want to make it as professional as we can do. We want to provide a good level of coaching.”
Bote added: “It’s been good. I’ve been here for five days and taken in quite a few games at different levels. It’s been a positive, worthwhile programme. What I’ve seen has been very good and a contrast to styles in Holland. The intensity is unbelievable and there’s much more transitions from defence to attack and vice-versa.
“I met up with Danny last year. We both coached in the USA and he wanted to come to Holland to experience the culture and enhance his own philosophy. It’s all about improving yourself and getting new ideas.”
The Storks - who have signed Fleetwood Town’s Robbie Bromley, former Oldham striker Nathan Foulds and Accrington Stanley midfielder Nathan Hudson - start their second season in the Evo-Stik First Division North tomorrow as they take on newly-promoted Spennymoor Town at the Brewery Field.
“We’ve had a good pre-season and the lads have worked hard,” Craig said. “It’s going to be another tough season in a very difficult league. Spennymoor Town have been promoted and they’ll be a major force in this league. It won’t be an easy start for us.
“I don’t think there’ll be a stronger league in the country at this level. We’re competing at a very good level but I’m confident that the players can kick on after experiencing it last year. They’re all fully aware of what the requirements are and what’s expected of them. There’s no reason why we can’t hold our own and do well.”