POTENT Reds’ striker Jason Hart is hopeful of climbing the football ladder with Colne.
The 22-year-old has engineered a spectacular baptism in the top tier of the North West Counties League, hitting the 30-goal mark with eight fixtures remaining.
Hart started out as a youngster at Blackburn Rovers’ academy, but admittedly lost his love for the game on his departure from Brockhall.
Hart had a brief trial with Accrington Stanley as a teenager, and moved on to Rossendale United before plying his trade in the Accrington Combination League with Church Town.
The prolific marksman, employed as a winger at Dark Lane, said: “I was playing on the wing at Rossendale.
“I told the manager, John Hughes, to play me up front but he wasn’t having it. But Nigel Coates showed faith in me when I went to Colne.
“I trained really hard, started well and now I’m getting my chance as a striker.
“I’m enjoying it loads. It’s been great. I wasn’t that confident at the beginning of the season.
“I’ve surprised myself slightly but now I’ve got that belief. I’d originally set myself a target of 20 goals but I’m way past that now.”
Hart’s progression throughout the term has been phenomenal, and that rise will undoubtedly see Coates batting off interest from rivals over the summer. The striker believes he has the ability to play at a higher level, but insists that he wants to bring success to the XLCR Stadium.
“I’m enjoying football again and I think I could play at a higher level,” he declared.
“I’ll stay with Colne until the end of the season and see what happens.
“I’ve not heard of any clubs showing an interest, though if any was shown I’d have to think about it.
“I’m really enjoying my time at Colne and I’d definitely like to stay on for at least another season to help them progress in to the league above.
“Eventually Colne can definitely get out of this league. If the club strengthens a bit in the summer then we’ve got a chance.
“A lot of players left at the start of the season so we’ve done really well to say we’ve had to start afresh.”
Padiham’s Ben Allen currently leads the Premier Division goalscoring charts, but the Storks striker is only one ahead of Hart. Now he has his eyes set on the Golden Boot award, an accolade that would be a fitting reward for his outstanding contribution this season.
“At the moment I’m going to be struggling because I picked up a red card recently against Silsden,” Hart said.
“I’ve missed out on a good few games so I might be playing catch up. I’ll keep going and see what happens. I want to try and get another 10 at least. That would be a brilliant achievement.
“To finish as the division’s leading scorer would be awesome. I’ve already surpassed my expectations so I’d be delighted with any more I get.
“I feel as though I’ve progressed in everything. I’ve come from playing at a pub standard to scoring in the top tier of the North West Counties.
“I think I’m progressing well. Training with Andy Payton was quality. It was brilliant working with him and he passed down his knowledge. There was a lot of friendly banter between us because I’m a Rovers fan.”
Colne, who were scheduled to play at home to Ashton Athletic last night, entertain AFC Liverpool on home soil tomorrow, kick-off 3 p.m. They will then travel to the Silentnight Stadium on Wednesday to face rivals Barnoldswick Town, kick-off 7-45 p.m.
Elsewhere, on the back of the weekend’s postponement away at Eccleshall, Mark Fell’s Nelson will travel to face AFC Darwen on Bank Holiday Monday before playing their rearranged fixture at Pershall Park on Wednesday evening.