Garner lauds Salford City midfielder Stopforth!

Former Blues midfielder Gary Stopforth in action for AFC Fylde
Former Blues midfielder Gary Stopforth in action for AFC Fylde

Blues boss Simon Garner is full of admiration for the journey that former team-mate Gary Stopforth has embarked on.

The Shawbridge player-manager featured alongside the Salford City midfielder at Ramsbottom United after joining the club in February 2013.

Stopforth, 29, had two seasons at Clitheroe FC where he played under the joint stewardship of Neil Reynolds and Peter Smith from 2007.

Now the former Blackburn Rovers Youth graduate is enjoying a glorious spell with the Ammies at Moor Lane which has brought an incredible FA Cup run.

Having won the Evo-Stik First Division North title last term, Stopforth has now helped City to victory over Notts County in the first round of the competition while forcing a replay against League Two Hartlepool United.

Should they get past Ronnie Moore’s men on Tuesday at Victoria Park they’re reward will be a plum tie against Championship outfit Derby County.

“He’s exuberant, he’s everywhere and he covers every blade of grass,” said Garner. “He’s a great character to have on the pitch and in the dressing room because he’s got a huge will to win, he’s got bags of energy and his enthusiasm rubs off on everybody else.

“He’s the perfect player to have in non-league football. He’s a proper box-to-box midfielder who loves a challenge and gets stuck in and I’d imagine he’s every managers dream. He lifts the lads and you can depend on him because he’ll give you everything in every game and makes it tough for the opposition.”

Garner, who played for FC Halifax in the first round proper against Charlton Athletic in 2011, added: “I knew him from being at Clitheroe and I was fortunate enough to play alongside him at Ramsbottom. He’s one of the best players that I’ve played with. He was highly thought of at Rovers when he was a kid and he’s kicked on again since joining Salford City.

“It must feel amazing to be involved in that third round draw. It’s great and I’m made up for him. They’ve already played twice on TV and the replay will be a third. They’ll be on again if they get past Hartlepool too.

“They’re like minor celebrities now. Not many professionals will feature on TV as many times as they have this season but they fully deserve the exposure. It’s a great draw for them. Derby is a massive tie. They must be on cloud nine.”