PADIHAM boss Steve Wilkes feels a real togetherness is driving the Storks’ success so far this season.
Wilkes has guided the side to second in the NWCFL Premier Division, following a comprehensive 4-0 win over Stone Dominoes on Saturday - the club’s highest ever position within the football pyramid.
And the club also has a Lancashire FA Co-operative Challenge Trophy semi-final at county headquarters to look forward to.
Padiham take on Wilkes’ former club Ashton Athletic tomorrow at the Arbories, kick-off 3 p.m., with Wilkes looking to kick on over an interesting festive period.
Following tomorrow’s game, Padiham are at fourth-place Congleton a week tomorrow, before hosting eight-place Barnoldswick Town on Boxing Day, with a trip to leaders Maine Road to come on the 29th.
And Wilkes said: “Me and Steve Cunningham are just hoping to carry things on, and help the club try to get where it wants to be.
“Things are going really well at the moment, and my job is to try and keep everyone’s feet on the ground.
“But one of the reasons we are doing so well is that we are a club - not a first team.
“At training on Tuesday night, at 9 p.m. at Gawthorpe on the 3G pitch, we had 37 players there, including reserves and youth team players.
“We all train together.
“We couldn’t have asked for much more from the players so far.”
Tomorrow Wilkes takes on the club he left to return to Padiham, and he is looking forward to a reunion: “Ashton are a fantastic club, and I’m very grateful for giving me the chance to get back involved in football.
“I’ve said before, I wouldn’t have left Ashton for many clubs - Padiham being one.
“We did well there, and I look forward to seeing a few familiar faces.
“But we want to get the game on and get the points.
“We want to play as many games as we can while we’re in good form, and we have some fantastic fixtures to look forward to over Christmas, against Congleton, Barnoldswick and Maine Road.”
Another former Ashton man is Padiham’s in-form striker Ben Allen, who has 18 goals in 24 games.
Wilkes brought him with him from Ashton, after signing him following a call from an old mate: “I got a call from Mick Rathbone, who I played with at Preston, asking whether I’d take a look at his niece’s boyfriend.
“Ben was just back from America, where he’d broken goalscoring records in university football, but Mick hadn’t seen him play.
“We signed him on, met him on the day of a game at Silsden, and he’s done well for me ever since.
“He started a bit sluggishly here, but once he found his feet, he’s been terrific.
“He’s a very good targetman, and has 18 for the season now after his hat-trick on Saturday against Stone.”