Barnoldswick Town manager Danny Craig won’t settle for second best when the club takes on the biggest game in its history.
Town certainly won’t travel to Fleetwood Town’s Highbury Stadium to make up the numbers on Tuesday when they go up against City of Liverpool FC in the Macron Cup final.
Craig acknowledges the magnitude of the occasion, with the opportunity to secure the club’s first piece of silverware in six years in League One surroundings, which is why he wants his players to make it a moment to remember.
“It’s massive for the club,” he said. “The chairman said that it’s one of the biggest games that the club has ever been involved in in its history.
“He said that it’s a game that he’s been looking forward to more than anything. Everybody is excited about it.
“It’s an opportunity for the players to play on a pitch of that standard in a very impressive stadium. It’s a great set up there.
“The players are all buzzing. They all want to be available, they’re all confident and the atmosphere is good around the whole club.
“It’s all about what the cup final represents. Some players haven’t played in games as big as this before and it’s definitely the biggest game that I’ve managed in. It’s massive for everybody involved.”
Craig added: “It’s a massive achievement to get there but we’re one game away from winning it so we don’t want to stop now. We want to win it.
“It would be great to get some silverware. We just need to go one step further now and try to put on our best performance at a fantastic facility.
“The set up is as good as anything in League One. It’s a great opportunity for the players and it’ll be a moment for them to remember.”
Practice makes perfect for Craig, who will be trying to break a cycle of defeats in this competition’s finale.
Both Steve Wilkes and Steve Cunningham, who Craig worked with at Padiham, have fallen at the final hurdle with Runcorn Linnets and Colne respectively while his brother, Dominic, was also in the Reds side that suffered at the hands of Atherton Collieries.
In readiness, the Silentnight Stadium boss challenged his players to familiarise themselves with winning during a relentless finish to the season.
And Town delivered in scintillating style, winning four of their final five fixtures in the Hallmark Security Premier Division while scoring 17 goals.
Craig has done his groundwork, designing a programme that will ensure his squad is physically and mentally sound, but he claims that confidence is key.
After beating Hanley Town, Runcorn Town, AFC Liverpool and Winsford United in the space of a week, Craig said: “It was all about preparation for the cup final. We’ve had physios in, so all the players have received treatment, we’ll have training sessions, opposition analysis, a game plan, recovery sessions, rest days.
“However, no sessions I hold can plan for confidence. They had to find that confidence by winning games.
“If they’d lost five times then their confidence would have been low. They prepared with four wins hough so hopefully they’ll go in to the final flying.”