Padiham boss Steve Wilkes starts his mission to climb the football ladder with the Storks tomorrow.
But he has again been in hot water with the FA for literally climbing a ladder to watch his side in action, while serving a suspension!
Wilkes received a two-game ban after a gesture towards the referee was reported by an assistant in a game against Nelson towards the end of last season.
He thought the terms of the ban meant he was unable to enter the Arbories ground for Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round clash with City of Liverpool, and borrowed a ladder from the cricket club next door.
A visiting fan posted a picture on twitter, and the FA took a dim view, handing him a further one-match ban and a fine, meaning he will miss the Storks’ first two games of the Hallmark Security North West Counties Premier Division season, at home to Northwich Victoria tomorrow, and at Charnock Richard on Tuesday night.
Wilkes has taken it on the chin, however, and revealed he has had to turn down another idea to get round the ban: “I’ve even declined an offer from a hot air balloon company to watch the games, as I’m scared of heights!”
His antics earned him a slot on the BBC One North West Tonight show on Monday, and he said: “I got done with an extra game and a fine for using my initiative.
“I didn’t want to miss the game.
“I’m passionate and it was just dedication on my part.
“I got a ladder from the cricket club and put it against the fence because I thought I was banned from inside the ground.
“I saw the picture on twitter and thought it might cause a few problems, I tried to make light of it, but unfortunately the FA didn’t see that.
“We had word at 9 a.m. on Monday from them, and I’ve been charged with disrepute for ignoring the ban.
“So I miss the first two league games now.”
Padiham were beaten 2-1 by City of Liverpool after a late goal, having played an hour or so with 10 men after the dismissal of summer signing Jay Hart, who had equalised from the spot moments earlier.
Wilkes felt that was the turning point: “Jay was harshly sent off, there was a long ball over the top and he broke away from the centre back and, as the keeper came out to head it clear, Jay went to lob him, and ended up catching him in the chest.
“The referee was under pressure from six of seven of their players, and off he went.
“I’m not saying we would have won the game, but I thought we were unfortunate not to get a replay.
“It was disappointing, we had a big chance through Kieron Pickup at 1-1, and the lads worked their socks off for me.”
Wilkes is hoping to build on a seventh-place finish last term, but expects a tough start against a side relegated from the Evo-Stik First Division North in Northwich Victoria, and NWC First Division runners-up Charnock Richard: “We have two tough games to start with, Northwich have come down from the league above, and Charnock have come up.
“It would have been nice to watch the games, but never mind!”