DAVE Challinor is proving to have something of a golden touch in non-league football.
Promotion last season with Colwyn Bay, same again this season with AFC Fylde.
The man renowned for a Herculean long-throw in his playing days at Tranmere is now proving a dab-hand at management too.
AFC Fylde powered to the Evo-Stik First Division North title this week with a ninth successive win (against Salford City), having kept clean sheets in the last eight.
They are now three promotions away from the Football League – so what neighbours Fleetwood Town have achieved further up the Fylde coast isn’t lost on an ambitious Challinor.
“You would be daft not to look at what they’ve done and not believe you can do the same,” said the 36-year-old. For Fleetwood to have that incredible season and become a Football League club is brilliant. Blackpool are doing great too.
“Football is in a really positive place on the Fylde coast, and if we can jump on the back of it and roll with it then we will.
“You have to take it one step at a time. You have to walk before you can run. But I am an ambitious person, so is Colin Woodthorpe my assistant, and we want to take this club as far as we can.”
Like Micky Mellon at Fleetwood, one thing Challinor can rely on is an owner who crave the same. David Haythornthwaite is determined to make AFC Fylde the third club in the area to rise to the Football League.
“That was a big factor for me coming here in the first place,” added Challinor. “The ambition matched mine.”
That was back in November, when Fylde were 16 points adrift of top spot. Challinor, who replaced Kelham O’Hanlon, immediately instilled self-belief in his players and the results have been there for everyone to see.
“I can’t say what went on before but Colin and I came in and just placed very high demands on the players,” Challinor added.
“We already had some good players and we brought in five or six more lads, just to give us some more quality in areas we believed needed strengthening.
“They started to play consistently well and we had a massive desire not to lose matches.
“Everyone else around us has been on some very good runs too. But we have a dressing room of winners and that is why I am looking forward to next season
“We have a list of targets because it would be nice to strengthen a little, but I would have no problem going into next season with the same group of players.”