New Storks chairman Astin eyes promotion
The Storks finished mid-table in the North West Counties Premier Division last season having endured relegation from the eighth tier of English football the previous term.
That sparked somewhat of an exodus on Well Street and the chopping and changing of personnel in the dressing room brought uncertainty, unpredictability and an imbalance.
However, boss Steve Wilkes has enjoyed a more stable and successful summer and has formulated a squad that looks more than capable of launching an assault on the division.
While Lee Botham, Sam Farrow and Andy Fitzgerald have parted company with the club, with Matt Cross joining the coaching staff at Runcorn Linnets, the club has added seven new faces to its ranks.
Right back Jordan Armstrong has arrived from Tadcaster while defender Mark Young, midfielder Kieran Demaine and full back Adam Stockdale have made the short journey from Colne.
Defender Brandon Barski and winger Harry Dunne have joined from Clitheroe while midfielder Mark Sharples’ move from Nelson completes the transfer activity.
Having also named Garry Hunter as player/coach and Kirk Marsden as goalkeeping coach, Astin said: “What Alan Smith has done for this club in his 25 years here is unimaginable.
“It’s come on leaps and bounds; I can remember how it was when I was a player here. He’s done a great job so I want to continue taking the club forward.
“We’ve got a big challenge on our hands but we’ve got a very good management team in Steve Wilkes and his assistant Steve Pickup. We’ve been able to keep hold of the majority of the squad from last season as well.
“We were forced to rebuild entirely at the start of last term and you could see in the results what kind of impact that had on the club. After building a settled side were we able to put together an unbeaten run at the back end of the season.
“It’s looking good. My ambition is to finish as high as we can. We’ve sat down with the management team and we’re looking at pushing in to the top three.”
He added: “The dream is obviously promotion and it would be fantastic if we could achieve that in our second season back in the North West Counties. We want to push this club on and play a higher standard of football.
“We want to put Padiham back on the map. Colne have done tremendously well and we are looking to follow that.
“We will do our best and we feel that we’re bringing in the players that are capable of helping us in achieving that. We’re heading in the right direction.”
Padiham host Team Northumbria in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup tomorrow (kick off 3 p.m.) before kicking off their league campaign against rivals Nelson at the YESSS Electrical Arena on Wednesday, kick off 7-45 p.m.