In the absence of a home match this week, 1874 player/coach Paul Bowyer gives a squad update on behalf of manager Ian Street.
Like me, I am sure many of you are slightly frustrated with the Winter break we are having from League and Cup action at the moment. The squad has been training hard but nothing quite beats match day when everything is to play for. Weather permitting we have a friendly away at Ashton Athletic this Saturday which will give us a good opportunity to prepare for the important Cheshire Senior Cup game away at Cammell Laird next Tuesday evening. Following this we have a League match v Northwich Flixton Villa a week on Saturday where we will be looking to extend our recent run of victories and keep us in the promotion race.
I’ve particularly enjoyed my role of Player/Coach this season and I have learnt a great deal from working alongside Ian and Lee and supporting them with team preparation and tactics. It has been interesting to have an input in developments on the pitch and though we all have a similar way of thinking and playing it is also important that we can have our own views on how the team should progress so we can bounce ideas off each other. Obviously Ian has the final say which means I am in the envious position of taking my share of the credit when the team are performing well and distancing myself from things when the team have maybe failed to fulfill their potential!!! Thankfully there have been many more positives this season than negatives and long may this continue.
Last Saturday saw a friendly game arranged against a team from West Didsbury FC, played on the 3G pitch at Middlewich. This was an ideal opportunity to run the rule over a couple of trialists, find out more about the newcomers to the squad such as Ste Murphy and Matt Woolley and for some of the squad players (including myself) who have not been in the starting eleven recently to have a run out. We came out 4-0 winners at the end of a competitive and worthwhile game, but the main purpose was to ensure all members of the squad are ready and fully prepared in terms of match fitness to step into the side when called upon.
There is no doubt there will be very few squads who are as talented at this standard of football. There is a wealth of experience within the squad of players who have been successful at higher levels. The commitment of the players to succeed has impressed me this season, particularly highlighted when some members of the squad were ‘rested’ from the friendly last week and yet still showed up to support the lads and watch the game. There is a fantastic togetherness between the lads on and off the pitch and this has developed as the season has gone on. It is clear there are 4 or 5 teams in the promotion race now and the one area we have had to play catch-up with since day one is understanding each other’s game compared to the other teams in the league who have been together longer. Teams such as Hanley Town, where many of the players grew up together and have played in the same very successful team at County level, have impressed me this season and it is a definite advantage to have a solid foundation on which to build the squad. I feel we have this now at 1874 Northwich and competition for places and team morale could not be higher and the togetherness and understanding has shown itself on the pitch in recent performances where character is required – coming back from two goals down against Hanley is just one example of this.
This brings me nicely on to the forthcoming ‘Bring a Mate 2’ day at the League match vs Eccleshall. The level of support from the fans has been fantastic from even before the first friendly at Lostock Gralam in July (a little warmer than the current weather) and it would be great to see as many fans as possible down at The Barton Stadium on the 25th January to cheer the lads on. Days like this show there really is no better run and more together club than 1874 Northwich and on behalf of the management and squad can I thank you again for your fantastic support both home and away.
See you all on Saturday – Paul