Blues boss looking to get off to a rapid start

Clitheroe manager Simon Mellish with striker Oliver Wood
Clitheroe manager Simon Mellish with striker Oliver Wood
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One of Aesop’s Fables, “The Turtoise and the Hare”, may suggest that slow and steady - with some ingenuity - wins the race, but Clitheroe boss Stuart Mellish isn’t buying in to that philosophy.

The tale carries a plethora of interpretations, a variant of anecdotes, but none of them marry up to Mellish’s ideologies ahead of the Evo-Stik West Division campaign.

With six of the club’s first 10 league fixtures being played at Shawbridge, and nine of the first 14 in all competitions, Simon Haworth’s successor is determined to capitalise on home advantage and get off to the best possible start.

The season opens against Kidsgrove Athletic on Saturday (kick-off 3 p.m.) before the Blues take in a trip to the Neuven Stadium on Tuesday evening where they’ll face Radcliffe FC.

After that they entertain Sunderland RCA in the preliminary round of the FA Cup on August 25th while Kendal Town are the visitors to the Ribble Valley two days later.

“It’s vital to start well because it settles everyone down and gives everybody a boost, individually and collectively,” he said.

“We want this result to show that we’re heading in the right direction and we’ll be doing everything we can to get those three points.

“It always bodes well to have home advantage but we’ve got to capitalise on that. On the other side of the fixture list we’ll be playing more games away from home. I’m more than happy with how the fixtures have fallen though.”

Mellish added: “I can’t wait to get going. It’s been a lot of hard work in pre-season but now the real work begins. The first game of the campaign gives us the chance to see where we’re at and see if all that work has paid off.

“Kidsgrove are a new team so we don’t really know much about them, Radcliffe have spent money so that will be difficult away from home and our FA Cup tie against Sunderland RCA will be a difficult challenge against an organised outfit. We’ve had them watched and it’ll be a tough test.”

The former Warrington Town boss, who achieved promotion at this level with the Yellows, had the task of replenishing the squad over the summer following a mass exodus.

And he’s done it with aplomb. The latest players through the door include goalkeeper Jack Simms, who has arrived on a three-month loan from Blackpool, full back Dave Thompson, right-sided defender Jay Jefferies and former Curzon Ashton centre back Andy Watson.

One-time Wigan Athletic and Chorley midfielder Josh Gregory has also joined alongside left back Ben Matthews and winger David Mbala, who has already proved to be a real crowd pleaser.

“I’ve loved it,” said Mellish. “It was good arriving at the club with a blank piece of paper. There’s been a lot of change because I wasn’t left with much.

“But that’s natural and I’m quite enjoying seeing the squad gelling together and becoming closer as a unit.

“I’m still one or two players short but I’m still trying to make signings. I’ve been non-stop on the phone trying to get them over the line.

“A few are awaiting international clearance, which they still haven’t received. I could be without them for the first game if they don’t get it on time.”