HIGH-FLYING Colne face a trip into the unknown tomorrow when they lock horns with Athersley Recreation in the first round of the FA Vase at Sheerien Park.

The Yorkshire outfit, based in Barnsley, are next to bottom of the Toolstation Northern Counties East Premier Division, and Colne will be eyeing further progress in the competition against a team who have already tasted defeat six times at home this term.


Colne boss Steve Cunningham, however, sounded a note of caution ahead of the Roses tie.

He said: “Athersley might be struggling a bit, but it is not in my nature to disrespect any team or a great competition like the FA Vase, so we’ll give it our best shot.

“We’ve got a coach load of 50 Red Army fans going to Yorkshire, and we want them to have a great day out.”

Colne will fancy their chances, though, particularly as they are enjoying a fine run in the NWCL league, with the Premier Division leaders six points clear of their nearest title challengers Runcorn Linnets.

And a lengthy run in the Vase would give the club’s coffers a mighty boost as they target promotion.

“Colne has a great tradition in the FA Vase, winning it as Colne Dynamoes in 1988, so I’m acutely aware of that history too.

“However, winning the title this season is our number one priority and I’m gearing the club towards that.”

He said: “A couple of years ago we had 20 fans and 10 dogs at our home matches. Now we are averaging 260 and the fans have really turned up in big numbers to support us.

“We’ve had a couple of gates of 450 and I think that’s a remarkable statistic at this level of amateur football, but it also shows that the fans enjoy the style of football on show.”

Colne are also the league’s highest scorers and Friday’s NWCL Cup win at Rochdale Town once again underlined the spirit that Cunningham has developed in his table-topping squad.

They left it late to secure their fifth win in six games, though. A goal down with two minutes left, Ben Allen and Dominic Craig struck, booking them a trip to Squires Gate in the next round on November 28.

“I made wholesale changes for the Rochdale tie, giving the rest of the squad an opportunity and, once again, they came up with a win.

“We have a fine squad here, the best at Colne for many years, and I’m convinced that we can achieve our goal of promotion next year.”

Ben Austin and Mark Young are both available for selection tomorrow after suspension.