Sky is the limit for Reds boss Cunningham

Colne FC: Steve Cunningham.
Colne FC: Steve Cunningham.

The ultimate objective for ambitious Colne boss Steve Cunningham is to guide the Reds to the fifth tier of English football.

The 37-year-old’s plans to stage National League football at Holt House may seem a pipe dream at present but how could you argue with the man who is scripting one of the greatest stories at semi-professional level at present?

Having conducted the club’s progression from the North West Counties Premier Division as champions, an achievement he also enjoyed during his stint as Steve Wilkes’s assistant at Padiham, the initial aim is to secure a play-off berth in the Evo-Stik First Division North.

Colne are currently on the periphery of the top five, just two points shy of breaching its walls, and they have given themselves a great chance of extending their season with seven games of the regular term remaining.

“It’s been non-stop but it’s been enjoyable,” said the father-of-two. “The quality at this level is a lot better and the demands are much higher.

“I’m a perfectionist and I just want us to be the best that we can be. I’m grafting and putting the time in and we’re feeling the benefits. It’s really showing at the minute.

“It’s a job that I’m committing seven days a week to; I’m just trying to improve the club on and off the field. I just want to see how far I can take this so I’m doing a lot of studying.

“Myself, Dixon Lambert and Liam Smith are like the “Three Amigos”. We’re out watching games, scouting players, looking in to different formations.

“All my management staff are giving 100% because that’s what we expect from our players. We’ve just become football addicts.”

He added: “We want to push Colne to the highest level possible. To get this club playing Conference football is the ultimate ambition.

“We are in it to win it because what is the point in grafting for no return? We want to progress and we’re always looking to that next milestone.

“We want to get to that next level and we’ve got a great opportunity to do that with the position that we’re in.

“It’s in our own hands because we’ve still got teams that are up there left to play. I said that I wanted to get to the play-offs from day one and now we’ve got seven cup finals to achieve that.

“We’re a progressive club and to finish in the top five in our first season in the Evo-Stik League would show that.

“It shows how much work is being put in to the club, it shows the kind of people that we’ve got working in the background and it shows the calibre of players that we’ve got out on the pitch.

“We want Conference football but we’ll take it step by step. We’ve got the Evo-Stik Premier Division in our sights and that’s what we are focusing on at the moment.”

The Reds suffered a torrid start to the campaign at the Silentnight Stadium, winning just once in their opening eight fixtures.

However, they’ve enjoyed an upturn in form on home soil with four wins in succession and 12 goals scored in their last two.

Colne have the advantage of playing five of their remaining fixtures on their own territory, beginning with Colwyn Bay tomorrow (kick off 3 p.m.).

“At the beginning of the season our form was terrible at home but now we are second in the form table from the last 10 games,” said Cunningham.

“We’ve really tried to improve that and we’ve done it. It’s a massive advantage that we’ve got five of our last seven games at home.

“It’s a massive tick in the box for us but we’ve got to make them count. We’ve got to take advantage of it.

“We need to keep putting pressure on the teams around us. I’m very confident in the team’s ability. We are good enough and we deserve to be up there but we can’t take anything for granted.

“It’s a very tough and demanding league and we’ve got to be on it every week. I’ve got every bit of faith in this team that we can go on a run. If we play to the best of our ability then we’ll give any of those seven teams a game.

“It’s been a great season and we’re in a great position but I would be very disappointed if we didn’t get to the play-offs now. We’ve got to make it happen. We want to go out and win every game that we’ve got remaining.”