NEW Barnoldswick Town joint-boss Paul Fildes is relishing his first opportunity in management.
The North West Counties Football League stalwart was announced as Ben Hall and Stewart Airdrie’s successor last week after the pair decided to step down following a phenomenal four years in charge.
Fildes will team up with remaining Victory Park coach Kevin Richardson at the helm, and he’s eagerly anticipating tomorrow’s home clash with Stockport Sports, kick-off 3 p.m. at the Silentnight Stadium.
“I can’t wait,” declared Fildes. “It’s a new challenge for me and I’m looking forward to it. Barnoldswick is one of the best clubs I’ve played at so it’s a privilege to be part of the management team. It’s a great set-up, there’s a great set of lads and we’ve got a supportive team around us from the committee to Ian and Lynn James - the chairman and secretary.
“I’ve never done this before. I’ve played football since I was nine at Burnley and now I’m almost 32 so I’ve been a player most of my life. I’m enthusiastic, keen and determined to succeed. I really want the best for this football club. It’s a great opportunity for me. I was expecting to start at West Lancs League level and build my way up, so this is brilliant. Everyone involved at the club is superb so I know I’ll be backed 110%.”
In terms of experience and knowledge there’s probably nobody who can rival Fildes at this level. After parting with the Clarets as a teenager, the prolific striker joined Colne, which sparked a potent, goal-laden career at a semi-professional level. Fildes has also featured for Padiham and Nelson while making the step up to the Northern Premier League with Kendal Town, Lancaster City and AFC Fylde.
“Hopefully my experience of the North West Counties will help me,” he said. “I started playing at Colne when I was about 17 and from there I moved on to different clubs like Padiham and Nelson. I stepped up in to the Unibond with Kendal, Lancaster and AFC Fylde then fluctuated locally, mainly between Padiham and Barlick. I’ve loved being involved at this level as a player and it might be quite difficult to step back from that now. But it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to and I’m ready to win games.”
Fildes is determined to build on the legacy left by the club’s three musketeers. Hall, Airdrie and Richardson combined to produce the most fruitful and harmonious period in the club’s history, invigorating and enriching Town on a journey that took them from the West Lancashire League to a fourth place finish in the North West Counties Premier Division.
“I’ve had messages from managers and committee members from other clubs wishing me luck which was nice,” Fildes said. “Ben, Stewart and Kevin have done a phenomenal job, what they’ve done for the club is fantastic, so I just want to try and build on that.
“At the moment it might just be a bedding in period for us but we’re looking to finish higher than last term, which is going to be tough. We’re 12 points behind Padiham in second with a game in hand and there’s 21 games left so it’s still very early.”
He added: “It’s all down to the lads and I’ve no doubt that things will change in the table. It was in our hands at a similar point last season but injuries and a hectic fixture schedule took its toll. That could happen again to other teams this time. But we aren’t under any pressure.”