PASSIONATE Clitheroe boss Carl Garner has become the first new manager to scoop a Manager of the Month award at the first attempt.
The Blues coach has enjoyed unrivalled success among the Evo-Stik First Division North hierarchy in April, going eight games unbeaten and taking 18 points from that spell.
That emphatic form, which saw them score 21 goals, concede just four and keep five clean sheets, earned the Shawbridge club their best finish in the non-league pyramid – sixth – after hitting the 70-point mark.
“It’s been an unbelievable finish to the season,” Garner said. “It’s been an amazing turnaround in contrast to the previous eight games.
“It’s been amazing really and I can’t speak highly enough of the players.”
And it really has been a phenomenal transformation when you consider the Blues had only kept five clean sheets in 36 league games prior to Garner taking over, and in the previous eight fixtures had taken just six points.
“I’ve been told by the league that I’m the first person to win the Manager of the Month award at the first attempt as a new manager,” Garner said.
“I don’t think anybody has ever won it while in charge of Clitheroe either.
“The award just emphasises the transformation at the club and it’s been nothing short of a miracle, because it’s been practically the same players that’s achieved this success.
“They’ve set the bar high for themselves and hopefully they can take this in to next season.
“This month we’ve been miles ahead of everyone else.”
Anybody looking in to the Ribble Valley club from the outside would be forgiven for thinking that Garner had been involved in management for much of his adult life.
It would come as a shock then that his only involvement in football has been a six-year spell as chairman.
He said: “I certainly don’t think anybody who has moved from chairman of a club in to management has achieved this.
“I’m thrilled to bits with the award and it’s great recognition for the club. It will definitely silence the sceptics.
“Myself and those close to me were confident I could do it but going out there and proving it was another matter.
“I’m proud of everything we’ve achieved recently.
“We’ve been demonstrating title-winning form of late.
“For the league to tell me that I’m the first new manager to win the award at the first attempt makes it even more of an achievement.”
Garner will be presented with his Manager of the Month accolade at half-time during tomorrow’s play-off final between Chorley and AFC Fylde, two sides who failed to record victory against the Blues over that unbeaten period.
Meanwhile, midfielder Ashley Parillon claimed five awards at the Ribble Valley club’s presentation night – players’ player of the year, manager’s player of the year, goal of the season (against Woodley Sports), Golden Boot and supporters’ club player of the year award.
Parillon scored his 21st of the season in the 6-0 rout over Leigh Genesis in the final game of the season.
Young player of the year Jack Higgins scored twice while Eddie Stanford, Robert Turner and Darren Green were also on the scoresheet.
Ryan Fisher was presented with the supporters’ player of the year award and the George Slinger Trophy while Chris Smalley claimed the most improved player accolade.