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Premier Division

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Premier Division

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Storks looking good

Wed 22nd November 2017 | Padiham
By Ian Templeman

Padiham's joint management team of Dixon Lambert and Liam Smith have enjoyed a decent run of results, since taking over the managerial reins at the end of August.

The Storks are one of the form sides in the Premier Division, and currently sit in 6th place in the table. The managerial duo took time out to review the season so far and progress made since they took charge, after moving down the M65 from Colne in late August.

Taking charge

Dixon – The opportunity came out of the blue and came about really quickly.

I am from Padiham, and if we didn’t have a game I’d go and watch Padiham, so I knew a lot of the players in the squad, but had had no thoughts or intentions of taking over.

We had done pre-season with Colne, and were really focussed on where we going with them, but we saw the potential at Padiham, it’s a great club.

We went in and it all happened so quickly from talking on a Saturday to the Bank Holiday Monday, and before we knew it, we were at Runcorn Linnets for our first game.

Early changes

Liam – Missing a pre-season was a problem, because pre-season is massive at this level of football. We don’t have enough time with players, an hour or two a week and then games on top, so pre-season is vital.

The temptation was to make a couple of changes straight away, but we wanted to be fair to the lads that were at the club and give them a fair opportunity. But we have been in this league before and know what it takes to be successful.

If you look at the number of players we have brought in, we’ve brought in about 15 in a short space of time, which is a lot, but we never thought that players of that quality would become available so quickly. We know their quality and their experience of winning the league before at Colne.

Although we still haven’t clicked yet and reached the standards we expect, and we know we are not the finished article, I think once they all start gelling we will be a force in the league.

The opposition

Liam - It’s a tough and physically demanding league and we know that in the Counties you have to be really at it every single week, and if you are not at it physically and mentally then you get beaten, whether you are playing bottom of the league or mid table.

With only one getting promoted we know about how hard it is, we have done that with Colne so we know how demanding it can be, and if you slip up you can soon be adrift.

Dixon – Yes, it’s a tough league with some quality sides and good players in it. Every year one or two teams surprise you and come to the fore, as well as the usual suspects. They are probably four or five teams that would hold their own in the Evo-Stik League, there’s no two ways about it.

We know what is needed in this league, and if you don’t do what’s needed, you will get turned over.

Liam – One thing we do as a management team, which we have always done, is that we will go out and watch every single game we can. We are out every single night watching games, any opportunity that we have got to watch games we are out there.

If we are not playing we will be out, we are the type of people that don’t want to miss a trick.

We want to do our homework on teams and be fully prepared because if we are asking players to give up their time, we would be doing them a disservice if we didn’t put in the same sort of commitment in.

Local players

Dixon – We have always kept our eye out for players, but what we have tried to do is get a local core of players too, and that is easier said than done. It depends on whether they are available or if they are the right standard, and there’s a lot of competition from other clubs.

But I think we have been lucky in the players we have now, and I think we are now looking at about nine of the regular starting 11 being from within about a 7 or 8 miles radius probably, and I think that is good for the club and for the community as well.

Liam – We want to build a successful team on the pitch but we want to be successful off it as well. Success attracts fans and the Saturday before last we had the highest attendance in the league. We had 320 fans on and that was nearly double the next best at Congleton.

It’s about building the brand on the pitch but off it as well. We want to get players out in the community doing things with local schools, we have got links with Padiham Saints which is good for is, and helps to build a product off the pitch.

Local players give a sense of ownership to the fans and they start believing in the club.

The rest of the season

Liam – We’d like to finish in the top five. When we came into the job the team had lost four out of four and were 22nd in the league. For us, if we can finish in the top five it will have been a fantastic season.

We want to go as far as we can in cup competitions, we’d like to add a bit of silverware and get a winning mentality at the club.

Dixon – We have done OK. I don’t think we have been great so far and I think we have a lot more to come. I think we have shown flashes, done it in little spells of 15 to 25 minutes, but I don't think we have done it consistently for a game yet, let alone a run.

Although quite a few players do know each other, they are coming into a new environment. It’s just about getting them to gel and I don't think we have actually gelled yet.

Whether that is down to me and Liam not finding the right formation or the players themselves I don't know. But we know these players, we trust them, and I am sure sooner or later they are going to click.

Liam - We have lost 2 in 13 but we know there is still a lot of work to do, we have dropped some silly points. We know we have still got another few gears to go up yet, and that shows the type of atmosphere we are trying to create at the football club, a winning mentality.

For now though, it’s just about building this year, trying to win every game and finish as high as we can, and then have a good go next year.


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