THE VICS COLUMN - By Peter Tonge

AT this time of year, in a normal year anyway, players and fans are relaxing, enjoying holidays and looking forward to the next season.

For the management team however, it’s one of their busiest and most important times of year as they look back at the successes and failures of last season and start planning how to improve the team for the next season.

At North West Counties League level, few if any players are contracted, and certainly not for more than the one season so the first job for the manager and staff is to decide which players to try and keep for the forthcoming season, and then to try and bring in new players which will improve the squad.

For this, you need a manager with knowledge of football at this level, and you certainly can’t get anyone with more experience and in-depth knowledge than our manager Steve Wilkes.

Steve came to us 3 years ago, after amassing 912 games as a manager with over half of those being at Padiham in the NWCL. He now has well over 1000 matches under his belt, an incredible record.

Steve’s right-hand man at Vics is Steve Pickup, who had been his assistant for 4 years at Padiham but they’ve been friends for a lot longer.

Steve P has been in football most of his life, having played for the likes of Burnley, Bolton Wanderers, Accrington and Padiham.

They form a remarkable duo (often referred to as The Mitchell Brothers from Eastenders) on the touchline, and you certainly know they’re there!

They both understand what the club means to the fans, and in the three years they have been here they have ensured that there is a close bond between not only themselves, but also the players, and the fans, a point typified by the fact that Steve and a few players earlier in the lockdown had phoned round the Club’s membership to check on how they were coping and see if if anyone needed any help.

The third member of the team is coach Scott Campbell. Scott started coaching junior teams around the Bolton area, slowly building up experience then spent time at both Atherton clubs before having a couple of years at Ramsbottom Utd. He left Rammy intending to take a break but persistence from Steve Wilkes persuaded Scott to join Vics as first-team coach about two years ago.

The final member is goalkeeping coach Mark Byrne who joined the club halfway through the season, whose first home match was the 5-5 draw against Wythenshawe Town, maybe indicating that there was definitely a bit of work for a goalkeeping coach to do!

Let’s hope that with restrictions slowly being eased, and pre-season training starting up again under strict guidelines, we can get back to enjoying live football and following the club that wouldn’t die.

Stay Safe