While the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Chelsea were awaiting to hear their fate in the Champions League last 16 draw, Clitheroe boss Simon Garner was on tenterhooks ahead of the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy draw.
On the same night that Manchester City host Luis Enrique’s side and Juventus host Borussia Dortmund, the Blues will take on Atherton Collieries at the Lancashire FA’s base in Leyland with a place in the final of the competition up for grabs.
Should Garner’s men overcome their North West Counties Division One opposition on February 24th, they’ll be rewarded with a game against either Chorley or Holker Old Boys AFC at the Macron Stadium - home to Championship side Bolton Wanderers.
“It was good to avoid Chorley at this stage but if we’re going to win the competition we’re probably going to have to play them at some point,” said Garner. “I’m happy with the draw but we certainly won’t be taking anything for granted.
“They’re doing really well this season, they’ve got a good team spirit and they’ve got good players who have played at a higher standard. It will be a big challenge because they beat Ramsbottom 2-1 to reach this stage.
“They’re not a bad team. They look like they’re going to run away with the league so they’ll be high in confidence going in to the tie. They could’ve even won the league by the time we play them. We will be the favourites because we’re two leagues above them but we’ll respect them.
“There’s a big incentive for both teams with the chance to play at the Macron Stadium and the opportunity to win a cup. For a lot of the lads it will be the first chance they’ve had to do that.”
Garner was part of Peter Smith’s side in 2009/10 that reached the final only to be beaten 4-0 by Southport. Garner is determined to go one better, though he knows it won’t be an easy feat against a side that have lost just one league game this season.
“I did it before and it’s impressive,” he said. “It’s a great experience and something all the lads will want. I played against Southport and it was great to be involved, though it was disappointing to get beat.
“I want to go one better this time. We’ve still got to get there first though and we know it’ll be a tough game against Atherton. There’s a lot at stake so it’s a fixture we’ll look forward to. It’ll be interesting so we’re just hoping for a good run of results in the league ahead of it.
“Realistically it’s our only chance of silverware and it would be a massive achievement if we were to win it. It’s something to aspire to.”