Just over halfway through their inaugural season in the NWCFL, Stockport Town are sitting in 4th place in the First Division table.
It’s been a solid start for the new boys, who missed out on joining the league in 2014 but were successful on their second application last summer, and Town Secretary Rob Clare is happy with the way things have gone so far.
“We are enjoying it, although we never underestimated the work that needed to be done to carry out the admin duties and all the things you need to get right”, he said.
“You have to be ambitious and we have always said we want to get promoted. With us having the 3G surface and playing games, we have played more games than other teams, and from early on we have always been in and around the play off places.
“It may be a slightly false position when other teams catch the games up, but we are happy with the way things have gone up to now”.
The way in which the fixtures have fallen for Town is an issue that manager Calum Sykes is acutely aware of.
With Town able to get home games in during bad weather on the artificial surface at the Stockport Sports Village when other teams weren’t playing, it now means a lot of away games between now and the end of the season for his side.
“These pitches do enable you to play in conditions you don’t normally play in, like the Chadderton game last Saturday”, he said.
“I think that a negative side is if you look at the league table we are well up there in terms of games played, and the pressure is that you need to win those home games when you are playing and others aren’t.
“We are now at a point where once we play Holker on Saturday, that leaves us with just two home games for the rest of the season.
“We love playing at home because it does suit our style of football, so it will be an interesting challenge for us to spend so long playing away games.
“But we’d rather be playing than not, and the advantage is that some clubs will end up playing three or maybe four times a week at the end of the season, so that is a negative for those clubs but not a position we will be in”.
Saturday’s win over Chadderton was a welcome return to winning ways for Town, although Calum admits that the tough schedule over the past three months presented some new challenges for his side.
“I think we probably had to readjust expectations at times, as the players that I have got are not used to being exposed to the volume of games that we have had.
“The last game we played where we didn’t get the result we expected was at Irlam in October, because we then went on a run and beat Whitchurch, Rochdale Town and Atherton LR, and got a draw against REMYCA.
“The games we didn’t win were Hyde United away (in the Manchester Premier Cup) when we defended fantastically well and created some great opportunities, but they scored a lovely goal.
“Then we had Barnton twice, and they just seem to have some sort of spell over us where they force us to not play at our best.
“Realistically, those were maybe not games we would have been expected to win, but in the other games we have had in the last three months, we have done well”.
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Calum believes his side have the ability required to keep their place among the cluster of clubs chasing promotion.
“Early on we struggled to find consistency and form, and it has been a big learning curve, but we are still on target to achieve our pre-season aim, and we need to have a good second half of the season”, he said.
“I believe in the squad that I’ve got. We will look to add to the squad as the season goes on, but I am confident that with the remaining games we have got, we have got the quality in our squad to get enough of the right results”.