Storks stalwart Smith calls on players to fight

Padiham players celebrate with the trophy
Padiham players celebrate with the trophy

Long-serving Padiham FC secretary Alan Smith is demanding that the club’s players stand up and be counted ahead of a defining cluster of fixtures over the Easter weekend.

The devoted Arbories figure, who has overseen years of progression since the rise from the West Lancashire League, admits to being largely underwhelmed at how the term has unfolded, but is refusing to give up the fight.

Manager Steve Wilkes, in his second spell at the helm, defied the odds to land the North West Counties Premier Division title in 2012/13. However, having survived a solitary season in the Evo-Stik First Division North, it seems likely that the Storks will be heading back to the ninth tier of English football’s pyramid.

“It’s been a disappointing season,” Smith said. “Having survived the first season at this level I thought we’d have enough to keep our position in the Evo-Stik League this time.

“It’s been a tougher league with the calibre of teams in it but I thought we’d be okay.

“There’s half-a-dozen teams in a similar position to Padiham and I thought we’d compete with them to stay here. It’s highly unlikely that’ll be the case but it’s not mathematically impossible yet.”

A pivotal Easter weekend serves up games against Warrington town on home soil tomorrow and Clitheroe at Shawbridge on Bank Holiday Monday, with both matches kicking off at 3 p.m.

And Smith wants his employees to acknowledge the importance of these fixtures as Padiham trail New Mills by seven points with five outings remaining.

“The lads have got to give everything now up until the final whistle of the final game,” he said. “It’s not in the club’s hands now, it’s up to the players.

“If we can piece a run together and put points on the board then we’ll give ourselves a chance.

“But if we can’t climb off the bottom then we’ll be playing in the North West Counties again.”

He added: “As a football club we’ve not been good enough on and off the pitch. We have to grow up a bit. This is a big Easter period for us.

“If we get two wins then things will look a little rosier for us. We need to get those two wins though.

“The lads that play from one to 11 will determine where we are playing our football next season.

“They’ve got to put a shift in now. That’s their job. They’ve got to realise that Padiham FC will still be here regardless of the outcome.

“People like myself will remain at the club no matter what level we’re playing at. We want to develop the club and we care about it.

“We want the players to show that same commitment in the remaining games. We won’t give up the fight.

“Whatever level we’re playing at we’ll look to achieve success. Promotion from the North West Counties was unexpected but we’ve enjoyed playing at this level and that’s why we want to stay here.”