Storks stalwart Alan Smith has accepted that taking a step backwards may be beneficial to Padiham Football Club in the long run.
Barring an unlikely reprieve, should Steve Wilkes’s side condemn New Mills to the foot of the table, the Arbories outfit will be plying their trade back in the North West Counties Premier Division next term.
Nobody likes going backwardsAlan Smith
The Evo-Stik League, which has been Padiham’s home for two seasons, has recently received resignations of membership from Brigg Town FC and Rainworth Miners Welfare FC in addition to that of Norton United, meaning no club will be relegated from the First Division South as a result.
However, at present, that spate of withdrawals will have no bearing on the First Division North.
With Padiham four points adrift of the Millers with two fixtures remaining, Smith said: “It’s a massive blow to the club. We had a bit of momentum going having climbed out of the West Lancs League.
“We followed that up with promotions from the two tiers of the North West Counties and in to the Evo-Stik League. Nobody likes going backwards.
“But sometimes you have to take a step backwards to take one forward. It’s been a great experience though, we’ve learnt a lot, and we don’t want it taking away. This experience will strengthen the football club.”
The devoted Arbories figure insists lessons will be learned from a largely underwhelming campaign which has seen the Storks beaten 29 times in 40 outings.
“If we are to survive at this level then it may need more investment in the club because money talks,” he said. “We don’t have the finances available to compete with some of the clubs.
“There’s still some clubs in a similar predicament but unfortunately we haven’t been able to compete with them either.”
Having won successive games for the first time this term, seeing off local rivals Clitheroe with ease before a stoppage time Daley Woods strike earned victory over Ossett Albion, Smith added: “At the end of the day supporters want to watch their side winning games.
“They might enjoy it more if we return to a level where we can be competitive. Whatever the outcome though, I’m proud to have been involved.
“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 get back here.
“It’s been a big challenge but we’ll enjoy playing in the North West Counties again.”
The Storks will travel to face Scarborough Athletic tomorrow, kick-off 3 p.m.