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The Big Interview: Bacup's Brent out to create cup magic
9:50am Saturday 9th March 2013 in Football
WHEN Brent Peters arrives at the Reebok Stadium for the biggest match of his colourful career on Monday, he will pause for thought to remember the events that overshadowed the start of Bacup Borough’s run to the United Co-Operatives Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy final.
Bacup will be attempting to win the trophy for the first time since 1911 when they face AFC Fylde, and victory would mean so much to their long-serving manager.
If the game was not already important enough, Peters has very personal reasons for wanting to lift that trophy.
The start of their campaign in Lancashire’s most prestigious non-league competition – their first round tie at Nelson – was originally delayed after the news of the death of Bryan Herbert, who was just 27 and had played for the club for 11 years.
Then the rearranged match coincided with the death of Peters’ mother Alice. Andy Hill, Bacup’s assistant manager at the time, stepped in and guided the team to a 2-0 win.
A year ago Peters dedicated Bacup’s victory in the North West Counties League Challenge Cup to his father, who died months earlier.
Now his mother will not be far away from his mind.
“When we won the Challenge Cup last year, while everyone was celebrating, I took the trophy straight to my mother’s house to show it to her because that trophy was for my father,” he said.
“He was a big part of my life and now I want to win the final in my mother’s memory because she was too.
“We got the news that she didn’t have long and for us to gather, and it just happened to be on the day of the first round. I missed the game.
“That month when my mother died was horrendous for everyone here.
“Bryan Herbert passed away, the grandmothers of my PA and my player Arron Kirk passed away, my mum’s brother and then my mother.”
Peters’ Bacup won the North West Counties League Challenge Cup in 2004 but the boss is well aware that, 17th in the North West Counties Premier Division, they will be real underdogs against an AFC Fylde side who are in the top half of the Evo-Stik League Premier Division – two leagues above.
No North West Counties side has won the competition since Great Harwood Town in 1992, and Bacup have not reached the final since 1975.
“It will be a very tall order,” Peters said. “But I don’t want us to just go there to enjoy the occasion, I want us to give a good account of ourselves and who knows?
“I’ve had success wherever I’ve been in management – Glossop, Rossendale United and Bacup.
“But I remember Eric Whalley saying to me a long time ago that you’ve achieved nothing until you’ve won this competition. That stuck in my mind.
“It would be the icing on the cake, my biggest achievement.”
Bacup will have a sizeable support in Bolton, but it is somewhat appropriate that the game has been preceded by a fixture wrangle – with a North West Counties League Challenge Cup quarter final at home to Formby today.
Over the years, with matches postponed because of cup runs and the weather, Peters has often had to fight his club’s corner against the schedule makers.
“We tried to change it but because we have games in hand and Formby do it was difficult, and I do understand that,” he said.
“The one thing they said though was that AFC Fylde are playing on Saturday too, but why does that matter?
“The league should be trying to help us because we are not only representing Bacup and East Lancashire, we are representing the league too.
“We were given an initial 300 tickets but I think we will have double that supporting us.
“The one drawback was Burnley are on TV on the same night. There are a lot of Burnley fans in the area but some are going to come and watch us instead.
“It might be another 100 years before we get there again, you just don’t know.”
Injury curtailed Peters’ hopes of progressing as a player, after being at Blackburn Rovers as a youngster.
He would later go into coaching, learning his trade alongside former Burnley trio Ray Pointer, Frank Casper and Martin Dobson at Bury.
Having grown up at the now defunct Rossendale United, where his father was a director, he guided them to the North West Counties League Challenge Cup final in 1994 – their first final in 20 years.
There was a spell as director of football at Accrington Stanley and then a brief period as assistant manager to Kerry Dixon at Doncaster Rovers, where he helped to keep the club in the Football League.
Months later, in September 1997, he took charge of Bacup in the second tier of the North West Counties League. He has been manager ever since.
“When I came to the club 16 years ago they had just lost 10-0,” said the 56-year-old, who over the years has applied for vacancies at Football League clubs such as Bury and Rochdale more in hope rather than expectation.
“They had zero points, but I kept them up. At the end of the season I said I didn’t want to stay, I’d done what I came to the club to do. The club was a disgrace and the ground was falling to bits.
“But they said they might have to go out of business and I didn’t want that. I used some of my own money to help pay off debts.
“Seeing what happened at Rossendale killed me and I don’t want that to ever happen to Bacup.
“I love a challenge and Bacup Borough is a challenge. I try to run it as close to a Football League club as I can, but we’ve got no money.
“It was a stressful 10 years battling with the council over the lease of the ground, but in 2010 we got a 75-year lease and we can start to move forward now.
“I’m from the Rossendale Valley, this is my area. Whatever club I’m working for, I will always give 200 per cent.”