Chasetown have 32 points so far this season which will see them safe in the division and have won 4 out of their last 5 games, seeing them pull away from the relegation zone. They will have been delighted with the turn of form and will look to be finishing the season well.
It would be wrong of me not to mention our last home game against 2nd placed Runcorn, as much as I don’t want to. I was embarrassed with the way we performed, certainly in the first half when we conceded 4 goals. It was always going to be a difficult game but I didn’t see that performance coming. I’ve wondered why it happened and why so many players under-performed. Maybe it was because of the pressure on the Skelmersdale game the week before, maybe Runcorn just had a good day, but whatever excuses I looked for, it was unacceptable. So I apologise for that and I’m sure many of you went home less than happy, as I assure you we all did.
I worked very hard over the following 72 hours to bring in some new players and freshen up the squad. Eventually we managed to get 3 players signed.
Ben Purdham signed and replaced Cameron Terry as goalkeeper for the Droylsden game. Ben is 21 years old and dual registered with Curzon Ashton, also appearing for Mossley this season. We brought a goalkeeper in because we felt Cameron needed a break. He has been superb and played in every game whilst I have been in charge and he has a great future, but we felt he needed taking out of the firing line. Plus if he gets injured between now and the end of the season we wouldn’t have had a replacement. So we now have two keepers pushing each other for the number one shirt.
I brought in Alex Low who has played for me for several years. Alex has been playing in the North East Counties for Garforth Town as his work commitments have prevented him from playing at Evo-Stik level. He will miss a couple of games for us that we know about but he will train with Garforth and play for us when available whilst travelling form York. He was outstanding against Droylsden and his experience will prove vital in our final push to the end of the season.
Finally we brought in Andy Langford from Trafford. Andy is the experienced player we have been after for months and he was the Trafford Manager’s Player Of The Year last season. I worked hard to get him to sign as several teams were after his signature, and we were delighted to add him to the squad. Andy was potentially Man of the Match for us against Droylsden and he will be important for us for the rest of the season.
I’m still trying to bring in two more players and may or may not have them in time for today’s game.
We fully understand the position we are in and we are still chasing them two elusive wins that will ensure we are safe. 14 games ago we were flying and 4 points off the play-offs with no worries. But since then with bad luck in games and bad injury problems, we’ve got dragged into the bottom relegation fight. How football can change. I still believe we will be more than safe come the end of the season and we will get the luck we badly need to ensure we finish the season well.
Lewis Sugden has been brilliant for us this season but I’m sad to say Lewis is now out for the season. The ankle injury he sustained a few weeks ago is a recurrence of an injury he had when playing in America a couple of years ago. I wish him all the best in his recovery. Lewis has assured me he won’t be going anywhere and he will be looking to pre season next year with Clitheroe and to cement his place in the team.
We played Droylsden last Saturday and lost 1-0 to an 87th minute winner, if we played our matches this season over 85 minutes I think we would be comfortably mid-table!
We put in a much better performance than the Runcorn game and once again deserved something from the game. I don’t know why but we have seemed to play far better away from home this season and put in better displays. I can’t put my finger on why but it is something we need to get right for today and the remaining games here at Shawbridge.
I watched my interview back this week after the Droylsden game, and I just want to add something that could have been misinterpreted.
I said a couple of supporters had turned against me, and that has been the case on social media. However it is literally a couple, your support has been outstanding and I have had supporters come to me before and after games to thank me for the work I am putting in.
The people that make the effort to speak to me or send a message, I can’t thank you enough and I hope that I give you a team to smile about and football to entertain you.
I also said at some point I will leave Clitheroe FC. Of course I will, I’mm not here for life, as no manager will be! I wont be leaving anytime soon though I can promise you that. I will keep this club in this league and then next season we will start again and add to the work we have already done. The committee has shown me their support and so have you as fans.
I had a wonderful message from a lady called Beth this week on social media. She told me her family, including her 94 year old great-grandad come to the games and how “they all have great respect how a few games into the season you accepted the role and changed the club straight away”. That message alone makes me want to succeed for people at this club. Thank you Beth.
With Anne and Billy leaving at the end of the season, next year will be an important year both on and off the pitch. As well as working hard as a management team, the club need a structure off it, which with these two leaving leaves gaps to fill. People need to be aware that it is not just these gaps that need filling, the club need volunteers. It doesn’t matter who you are, speak to Anne, ask if you can help, it may not be as much work as you think. It may just be a bit of stewarding for example. The club needs a team. Without my management team, I couldn’t do my job, and it’s the same off the pitch. Please put yourself forward, and if after you have chatted to Anne, you decided it’s not for you then fair enough, but have the conversation. The more people involved the better!
Enjoy todays game and let's get the ground nice and loud for the players.
Updated 17:10 - 5 Mar 2019 by Michael Barker