It’s not the Italian Job, but Steve Cunningham seems to have manufactured a “Self Preservation Society” at Colne Football Club.
Despite predators from the higher echelons of the football pyramid opening their talons in an attempt to capture the club’s prized assets, the Reds have been able to cling on to the majority.
Chris Anderson, last season’s leading scorer Danny Boyle, Alex Coleman and Simon Nangle have all been the subjects of lucrative offers from rival sides, but their dedication to the cause at Holt House has shone through.
In fact, Joe Garvin was the only casualty as he joined National League North outfit Stockport County.
“Nine players have been approached in the summer which is a compliment because it shows what a good side we’ve got,” said Cunningham. “Our biggest asset has been keeping the majority of that squad and adding players to it.
“Joe Garvin is the only one that has left us. He’s gone to Stockport County which is a great move for him. He left with a heavy heart but you can’t turn down an opportunity like that. We wouldn’t stand in his way.”
That’s certainly a projection of the club’s ambition which has only been bolstered by the arrivals of Dominic Craig, Ben Allen, Ben Hoskin, Jason Hart, Kenny Taylor and Sakeel Abdullah who have plied their trade locally.
“Almost everybody is from Burnley or Pendle,” Cunningham said. “There’s three lads from Accrington too so it’s fantastic for us.
“Everybody turns up to training and they all know each other. I’ve been in football for 20-odd years and this is the best team spirit that I’ve ever seen.
“They all go out together and they’re close friends. They have a great relationship with the fans as well. There’s a real family atmosphere at the club and that’s a key asset for us.”
Cunningham, who has Liam Smith, Dixon Lambert, Ted Cockett and Steve Petty making up his backroom staff, along with new reserve team manager Stephen Cunningham and assistant Andrew Melia, believes everything is now in place for a title charge.
Colne start the season against Winsford United on home soil tomorrow, kick off 3 p.m.
The pair met on the opening day last term as the Blues ran out 2-0 winners versus the nine men of Colne, who had Nangle and Luke Thompson dismissed in the first half.
“Promotion is very much our main target. We want to win the league. We’re not saying that we’re better than everybody else or that we’ve got a God given right to win it, but that’s our aim.
“There’s no point in being in football if you don’t have that ambition or if you’re not going out to be successful and win things.
“We lost five games early on last year so we were playing catch up straight away.
“It’s a very tough start for us but it’s one that we’ve up for. We want to get off to a good start and if we do then I genuinely believe that this could be our year.”
The Reds will then travel to Brantingham Road on Monday to take on Maine Road (kick off 7-45 p.m.).