Barnes is relishing giant-killing chance

Michael Barnes

Michael Barnes

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AFC FYLDE bid to cut Accrington Stanley down to size on Saturday in the first round of the FA Cup.

But they already have a player in their ranks who is used to giant-killing.

He ought to be, for he chops down trees for a living!

Top scorer Michael Barnes works as a tree surgeon when he is not knocking in the goals for the Coasters, who prepare to entertain League Two Accrington Stanley.

Barnes, who was once on the books of Manchester United, has been working as a tree surgeon for the past 12 months.

And he says it has certainly helped his game.

Barnes, 24, who has also played for Chesterfield and Shrewsbury, said: “It can be hard, physical work.

“Sometimes you have to work on a very big tree, chop it and then log it.

“I have to get up most mornings at 6.30am and work through until four and five, and then go training or play in the evenings.

“So it is physical training the whole day.

“It does make you stronger – it can be hard work, but you get used to the hours.”

Barnes’ working life away from the football field mirrors the ambition of AFC Fylde.

The Coasters’ aim – under manager Dave Challinor, the one-time long-throw specialist with Tranmere Rovers – is to attain Football League status like their neighbours Fleetwood Town.

And Barnes wants to progress up the ladder in the field of tree surgery.

He has been attaining the various tickets (or licences) in his sphere of work, so that he gains more qualifications in his specialist field.

Like the rest of the AFC Fylde squad, he is relishing the chance of taking on Accrington, a club with a chequered history but who were one of the founder members of the Football League.

He said: “It is a big match for us and Accrington because we know that if we did manage to reach the third round then we would be in with a chance of facing a Premier League club in the third round.”

Some of the big clubs have shunned the FA Cup, fielding weakened teams, but Barnes says that the competition is the only one that gives the non-league minnows a chance of competing on a level playing field with the big clubs.

He said: “We don’t get that chance in the League Cup or the FA Trophy.”