Blues chairman Barker highly optimistic about club’s fortunes

Clitheroe striker Sefton Gonzales had a first half penalty saved by the Workington keeper on Tuesday night
Clitheroe striker Sefton Gonzales had a first half penalty saved by the Workington keeper on Tuesday night

Clitheroe FC chairman Anne Barker has confessed that she has never felt so optimistic about the club’s fortunes on and off the field.

Barker, who has been involved with the Blues for over a decade, indicated that this is the strongest package that she’s witnessed at Shawbridge during her tenure.

While manager Simon Garner and assistant Ryan Parr take care of proceedings on the pitch, commercial director Tony Alveston has been working in the background with club representatives to bolster its standing off it.

“We feel we are building the club on and off the pitch,” said Barker. “I’ve been involved for just over 10 years now and this is the most optimistic I’ve been about the club.

“Taking both fronts in to consideration, on and off the pitch, this is the best season that we’ve had for a while. We’re looking strong and it’s all building towards a positive future.”

Garner has pushed the Blues to the outskirts of the play-off spots and a top five finish remains a reality.

They entertain seventh place Spennymoor Town on home soil on Saturday (kick-off 3 p.m.) where they’ll hope to secure a result that will keep them in touch with their rivals.

“It’s incredible what they have done,” said Barker. “They keep it sensible, they know their budget, they’re fair and they’re willing to give everyone a chance. They’re finding a good balance that is proving effective.

“We need to strengthen in some positions but players aren’t switching clubs at the moment because there aren’t any games. The list of transfers in the Evo-Stik League is very short at the moment.

“Players are sitting tight, waiting for things to get up and running again, to see what happens.”

Barker added: “We started the season looking to get in to the top 10. That would be a great achievement if we do that.

“If we’re being reasonable we might not make it in to the play-offs but anything around that would be fantastic. We’ve certainly given the spectators hope and entertainment.

“They may hit a ceiling at some point by the nature of our budget and where we sit but we just need to keep improving.

“We just want to be the best that we can be and as a club we have to try and step up to support them. The sky could be the limit for them.”

Clitheroe took on Workington AFC, third in the tier above, in the second round of the Integro Doodson League Cup at Borough Park midweek.

Sefton Gonzales smashed an effort against the upright early on as the Blues looked to cause an upset before the striker’s spot kick in the 37th minute, after Kurt Willoughby was upended, was pushed around the post by Jonny Jamieson.

The Reds finally cemented their passage in to the next round courtesy of Gareth Arnison’s brace.

The first arrived in the 80th minute from Joe McGee’s cross and the tie was put to bed with two minutes remaining as he steered home Robbie Hebson’s delivery.

“We were only able to field a squad of 13 players due to work commitments but the lads that were able to play were absolutely phenomenal,” said Barker.

“For an hour of the tie we were the better side. They were fantastic, particularly when you take in to account the level that Workington play at. We took a lot of pride from that performance.

“We do seem to be able to pull all the stops out against the better sides. We step up to the plate and give it everything.

“They’ve been doing really well. They showed what they are capable of, what they can achieve, because they were little short of amazing. Their attitude was great.”