Danny Craig understands that genuine friends in football are few and far between, but the Barnoldswick Town boss will always consider mentor Steve Wilkes as one of them.
The pair were acquainted at the start of Wilkes’s second spell in charge at Padiham with Craig drafted in as first team coach at the Arbories following the recommendation of Steve Cunningham.
The 32-year-old was promoted to Wilkes’s second in command on Well Street once Cunningham accepted the managerial post at Holt House four years ago and it’s been an education ever since.
Craig has stepped out of the shadows and in to the light, armed with the knowledge inherited from the former Preston North End midfielder.
Ahead of Town’s Hallmark Security Premier Division fixture against Northwich Victoria tomorrow, Craig said: “I know Steve Wilkes very well so it’ll be interesting to see how he’s getting on.
“We’re the best of friends off the field but we’ll have to put that to one side at the weekend.
“We’re always on the phone, he’s good to speak to when you’re needing advice and he’ll listen to my rants.
“Every situation that I come across in management now, Steve has already been through it. It’s good to have someone like that.
“You don’t have many friends in football, I could count them on one hand and still have three fingers left, but he’s definitely one of them.
“He’s been good to me and really helped me. He’s a genuine person and we’re both honest and loyal with each other.
“In this business you either learn from making a mistake or by watching somebody. I’ve stood behind him, taken things on board and learned the tricks of the trade.”
He added: “A lot of what I do has come from things that Steve has taught me. It was just about the basics of management and being able to move forward from coaching.
“He’s got a great deal of experience and I’ve learned from that because I’ve watched him at close quarters.
“We’re not interested in getting one over on each other. It’s not that type of relationship. We both want to win and we’ll both sulk if we don’t. It’s a nice situation for us both to be in.
“It’s nice to know that we’ve worked together and we’re still working hard and doing well. The best team will win on the day.
“We’re both in good form and in similar positions in the league. There’ll be a hand shake at the end of the game and the friendship continues. It was good to have been his co-pilot at one stage.”
l Town lost 2-0 at home to Tadcaster Albion of the Evo-Stik First Division North on Tuesday in the West Riding Cup first round, after giving away sloppy goals in the 12th and 19th minutesto Josh Greening and Tom Corner.
l Town’s East Lancashire League Second Division side lost 4-2 at high-flying Longshaw on Saturday.
The hosts had won all of their first four games, scoring 39 goals without reply.
Bailey Coates scored both goals for Town.