Chairman excited by bright dawn at Clitheroe

Phil Brown (right) has resigned as Lancaster City boss
Phil Brown (right) has resigned as Lancaster City boss

The bright new dawn at Shawbridge is capturing the public’s attention, with season ticket sales at record levels.

With just over a week until the first competitive game of the season, Clitheroe had sold 161 season tickets at the last count, with fans enthused by new boss Phil Brown and the squad he is building.

The gamble to pitch prices at just £50 for adults and £30 for concessions has paid off – season ticket sales usually hover around the 45 mark.

And chairman Lee Sharples can’t wait for the season to begin in earnest when the Blues host 1874 Northwich in the extra preliminary round of the Emirates FA Cup, before the new Bet Victor NPL North West Division campaign starts the following Saturday, when Clitheroe entertain Brighouse Town.

After a dismal season, in which the Blues finished 18th under Lee Ashforth, Brown – who led Lancaster City to the title at this level – has come in with a fresh slate, signing 10 players.

He has brought in Elliot Pond, Connor King, Paul Dugdale, Olly Muir, Terry Cummings, Craig Stanley, Jake Connelly, Jordan Darr, Conor Gaul and Charlie Russell, with Jacob and Josh Gregory retained from last season’s squad, alongside Hyuga Tanner and Cole Lonsdale.

Sharples isn’t burdening Brown with any bold ambitions, other than improving on last season.

But he is also excited by what lies in store.

He is thrilled with the response to the season ticket offer, and said: “It was a gamble, but we have tried to reintegrate the fans, to get the town behind the club, and wanted to give something back.

“We brainstormed, and it was an idea from outside the club to make them £50. We asked ourselves ‘could we do it? What could we lose?’

“But it looks a great idea now.

“We’ve given it a go and it’s working. Now it’s about adding to the gate numbers.”

That obviously hinges on how well the team are performing, and the brand of football, and Sharples is delighted with what he has seen from Brown and his players in pre-season: “We’ve had good feedback from the fans so far, who saw the open training session at the ground, and some of the pre-season games.

“The fans are looking forward to it, and it seems all positive.

“Phil is doing a brilliant job, he started with a blank piece of paper, and his enthusiasm oozed out of him.

“He ticked a lot of boxes, and you can see the passion from him.

“You can see the players are really happy, and players like Hyuga Tanner, who was with us last season, looks a different player, with a new confidence about him.”

There will be no brash statements about promotion pushes, however: “It’s not something we’ve really pinned down, it’s unfair for Phil to come in and start from scratch with the squad, and expect play-offs or promotion.

“He wants to win more than he loses, obviously, but we’ve not put a target on it.

“Last season was unacceptable, and we want to do better. We would be over the moon with more, but we’ll see.”