Steve Wilkes had the NWC Premier Division trophy in his possession following Padiham’s last visit to Sandy Lane.
Despite a 1-0 defeat against Runcorn Town, their only loss on the road that term, the Storks had already done enough to pip both Maine Road and Bootle to the title, and secure promotion to the Evo-Stik First Division North.
Reminiscing about the proudest moment in his managerial tenure, Wilkes said: “The last time we went there we brought a trophy home.
“It will be nice to go back to where it all happened, but there won’t be the same celebrations after the final whistle. It’s a long time since it happened.”
There won’t be any silverware at stake on this occasion, but there will be the opportunity to shatter an unwanted statistic. Wilkes has never beaten Town. “They’re a good side but these are the games we want now,” he said.
“We’re aiming for a top six finish, so if we want to do that we’ve got to be winning games like this. I don’t like the word ‘revenge’ but I’ll be looking for it. I’ve never beaten them as a manager.”
The two sides had their dress rehearsal at the Arbories earlier in the month as Town prevailed on penalties in the MEN United Cup. However, Wilkes was pleased with Padiham’s performance and believes a repeat will lead to success at the Pavilions Sports Complex.
“It was a disappointing to get knocked out on penalties, but we played well,” he said. “I hope that a similar performance will be good enough at the weekend.
“I’m sure they’ll field a different side and I think it’ll be a much tougher game, but if we play to those standards we’ll be fine.”
Former Lancaster City defender Adam Freeland made his bow in that cup tie, while one-time Bamber Bridge forward Darren Green was also handed his full debut. And Wilkes, who allowed full back Josh Walne to sign for Bacup Borough, was full of praise for the pair.
“I’m very happy with them,” he said. “Adam looked like he’d been playing for us all season. He’s an uncompromising centre-half who loves a tackle. He’s what we’ve been looking for.
“He’s decent in the air, he can pick a pass and he’s got a bit of pace, which is great for us because it’s been lacking. He did very well.
“Darren is a maverick. On his day he will be the best player in the North West Counties. We just need to get him on his day. He’s got experience from being at Bamber Bridge, Skelmersdale United and Clitheroe, and he’s won the league with Ramsbottom United.
“He’s a very good player, he’s got a cutting edge and he made the goal against Runcorn Town.”