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Carnforth Rangers look forward to Challenge Cup Final

Carnforth Rangers

Carnforth Rangers Football Club are preparing for a high point in a very successful season next week.

The club’s first team will compete in the West Lancashire League Challenge Cup Final against Dalton United on April 18 at 7.30pm at Charnock Richard’s Mossie Park ground.

First team manager Dan Parkinson spoke to Beyond Radio about an exciting time for the club.

Dan joined the club at the start of the 2019/20 season after success elsewhere.

“Back in 2018/19, myself and Mick Knight managed Slyne with Hest in the West Lancs League and won promotion there in our first season," he said.

“In the following summer, we were approached by Carnforth Rangers who were in the North Lancashire League at the time. We have plenty of meetings because we wanted to manage in the West Lancs League, they had the foundation to go to the West Lancs League.

“We said that we’d do one season in the North Lancs League but we’d want to go to the West Lancs the season after. The club showed a lot of ambition, improving the ground and the facilities as a whole so it was too good an offer to turn down.”

The club were promoted to the West Lancashire League Division One last season, after which Mick Knight left his role as manager. Dan, initially the assistant to Mick, took the role of manager on from that point and is assisted by Matthew Clapp.

But it’s in the cup this season where they have been most successful, knocking out Croston Sports, Millom and Hesketh Bank to make it to the final, but it’s not exactly been straightforward for them.

“We can’t wait for the final, the lads are buzzing. We’ve won each game on penalties but in every game we probably should have won it inside the 90 minutes.

“Dalton United are Division 2 but it’s one game at the end of the day, we’ve just got to be at them from the first whistle.

“We’re going to have a big backing, we’ve just sold out a 50-seater coach for the fans and I know there will be more coming down, so the support will drive the lads on even further to win our first cup in the West Lancs League.

“We’ve got a lot of support from the second, third and fourth team and parents, they coming to watch the final but there’s a core set of people coming to watch and they are fantastic support.

“Our volunteers who work around the clock, the coaches across all teams, the club secretaries Casey Bragg and Mark Hetherington, the chairperson and vice chairperson Julie Davey and Barry Fairgrieve, and the treasurer Lydia Read-Potter are all hugely important to the club, it wouldn’t function without their input.”

Dan is also relatively pleased with the first team’s league position in their first campaign as a West Lancs League Division One side.

“I’m happy with a mid table finish, we’ve got such a young side and we’ve just struggled with consistency. The average age is about 23 and that’s the same with all our teams – the second, third and fourth teams.”

It’s not just the first team who are having a good season.

“The second team are managed by Wayne Jackson and Steve Lancaster, they’re currently fourth in West Lancs Reserve Division Two, to be honest they’re younger than us in terms of average age but they are performing really well given the experience in that division.

“The third team joined the Westmorland League at the start of the season, started at Division Four and they’re currently top! They’re also in the semi finals of the Austin Wren Cup. It’s another young side but they have some experience here and there.”

The side are managed by ex-Carnforth Rangers players Vernon Middleton and Michael Whittam and will play against Burton Thistle over two legs in the Austin Wren Cup later this month.

“The fourth team, also known as the youth team, are managed by Wes Kendall, and they’ve finished seventh in the North Lancashire League First Division. It’s been tough because of problems with player commitments but Wes and others within the club have done wonders to fulfil the fixtures.”

Dan says that one of the biggest pull factors for Carnforth Rangers is their youth and ladies’ teams setup.

“The youth system was another big pull when we got asked to take on the job at Carnforth. We have 23 junior teams, ranging from under 5s to under 16s. This year they introduced three girls teams, two under 12s and one is under 10s.

“There’s approximately four or five girls in those three teams and another ten playing in mixed age groups, which is great to see.

“It’s run superbly by Mark Hetherington, the junior secretary. To keep hold of 23 junior teams is unbelievable! Each senior team is young and we want to have that philosophy of players making that step up through the youth ranks and to the first team, and then beyond.

“If they go on to play at a higher level, we’ve done our job as a football club.”

Last week, there was an annual charity match between Carnforth Rangers over-35s and Millhead over-35s at Quarry Park to raise money for motor neurone disease charities.

“There was a lot of people watching and we raised £500 so it was a great day!”

Carnforth Rangers take on Dalton United in the West Lancashire League Challenge Cup Final on April 18 at 7.30pm at Mossie Park, Charnock Richard.

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