Padiham boss Steve Wilkes has confessed that you need to keep your enemies close and your friends closer in football.
The claim comes after new Nelson boss Paul Fildes raided his former club to capture defender Tom Bradley and goalkeeper Sean Davis from the Arbories.
The pair, who have worked together in four different spells with the Storks and Runcorn Linnets, were understood to have a gentleman’s agreement in place before Fildes became Mark Fell’s successor at Victoria Park.
“I understand that it’s football management and you’ve got to look after your own club, but there are ways of going about it,” declared Wilkes. “I wouldn’t even contemplate doing that to the people that I’m closest with in football.
“I’m really disappointed about the whole situation and it’s left a sour taste in my mouth.
“Paul came to see me to talk about the managerial post at Nelson, and we had a gentleman’s agreement that he wouldn’t come in for any of my players. That all changed within 48 hours of him getting the job.
“After Tom Bradley I thought that would be it, but then he put seven days on Sean Davis. It shows you’ve got to keep your enemies close and your friends closer in football. We lost a few players to Colne in a similar kind of situation, but this is worse.”
Wilkes, who has since signed Lancaster City stopper Mike Donlon to replace Davis as the club’s number one, added: “I respect Sean’s decision and I wish him all the best.
“He’s been with me for four-and-a-half years, and he was here when we won the title. He’s been a permanent fixture at the club.
“I’m disappointed, but luckily we’ve managed to bring in a goalkeeper of the same stature. We’re fortunate to be in a position where the squad hasn’t been weakened.”
Padiham’s reward for beating AFC Liverpool 3-2 at the Arriva Stadium in the MEN United Cup was a third round tie against Runcorn Town on home soil tomorrow (kick-off 3 p.m.).
And it’s a competition that Wilkes is taking seriously in a bid to re-ignite Padiham’s campaign.
“It’s a tough game for us,” he said. “We’re playing a team that are in form, and they’re always difficult to beat. We’ve been able to put smiles back on the faces of the players in training though, so hopefully we can take that in to the tie.
“It’s a competition that we’ve got a good chance of winning, so it’s a big game for us. Our second half performance against AFC Liverpool was our best of the season, so I’d like a repeat of that. We want to make those efforts count.”
Wilkes added: “I’m confident we can go all the way. I’ve been to the final with Runcorn Linnets but unfortunately we lost 2-0 to New Mills.
“A good cup run would be good for us because it might give us the spark that we’re needing in the league. It gives us an opportunity to win some silverware this season, and there’s nothing better than doing that.”