STEVE Cunningham insists Colne can handle the growing pressure of being Premier Division title favourites as they face a mid-season fixture pile-up.

The Reds have not played a league game since October 20 and have had two further postponements this week.


Monday’s postponement at Atherton Collieries was their third call-off in as many weeks and on Wednesday their Lancashire Challenge Trophy second-round clash at Holker Old Boys was postponed for a fourth time.

“I said at the start of the season that Colne would win the league and I still passionately believe that,” said Colne boss Cunningham.

“I want to be the manager that leads Colne to the title, and it would be a travesty if we didn’t achieve that because I think we’ve got the best squad.

“Some people might say that’s an arrogant statement, and some might use it as ammunition against me, but that just spurs me on.

“I want to be the best manager in Colne’s history, but to do that I have to win some silverware and that’s a big personal incentive.”

Colne host Cammell Laird 1907 tomorrow, the only team to defeat Cunningham’s side in the league this term.

The Reds lost their grip on top spot when 1874 Northwich won at Abbey Hey on Tuesday, but Colne have four games in hand on them.

“We were top of the league on goal difference from Bootle, but we’ve six games in hand on them and that puts us firmly in the box seat,” added the Colne boss.

“It is in our hands – and I’m convinced that we can do it.”

He added: “When you have so many postponements it hits the club very hard financially because there’s no money coming through the gates.

“We were pulling in attendances of 270, but suddenly that has dried up because we’ve not had a home game for six weeks.

“It is also a test of character for the players, but they’ve shown me with their performances this season how they apply themselves week in and week out.”

Colne booked their place in the last eight of the NWCL Cup with an extra-time win at Squires Gate last weekend and they are also still involved in the Lancashire Challenge Trophy, although a fifth date for their trip to Holker has not yet been set.

It is the only second-round tie yet to be completed, with the winners facing Bamber Bridge at home in the last eight.

“I think we have strength in depth to deal with that challenge, but winning the league is our priority,” said Cunningham.