FORMED in 1972 as Barnoldswick United (1972) to avoid any debts accrued from a previous club by the same name, Barnoldswick Town made their first foray into non-league football in the Craven & District League, before entering two teams into the East Lancashire Football League in the early 1990s.

Merging with local clubs Barnoldswick Park Rovers and Salterforth Juniors to become Barnoldswick Town and upgrading their facilities to meet the North West Counties League standards, they were accepted into the league ahead of the 2009/10 season, where they have remained since.

In their first season, they won promotion to the league’s Premier Division after finishing as runners-up, also beating promoted Guiseley on their way to the final of the West Riding County Cup.

Today, the club runs two senior sides, with the First team mid-table in the NWCFL Premier Division, and their Under 23s exceeding expectations to top their East Lancashire Premier Division league, having lost just once this season against local rivals Clitheroe.

Nicknamed the ‘Sewer Army’ due to the close proximity of the training ground to a local sewer, the club is well supported both home and away by local residents, and averages over 200 spectators per match.

Against the newly formed Macclesfield FC, led by Director of Football Robbie Savage, the club broke their record attendance in August, with 691 supporters watching the visitors come away with a narrow 2-1 win.

Their fans are well-known throughout the league for their passion, with one fan, unable to attend Saturday’s fixture, even showing his support by displaying a Barnoldswick Town flag from his hospital bedside.

With an entry price of £6 for adults and £3 for concessions, at the gate spectators can pick up a free programme, produced in-house by editor and photographer Karen Clark and her son Will, who is also a product of the club’s successful junior set-up as Under 13 goalkeeper.

But on the pitch, the club have won just one of their last six matches in all competitions, prompting the resignation of First Team Manager Andy Clarkson last week after 13 months in the role.

Stand-in Andrew Hill oversaw Saturday’s 4-2 defeat at Squires Gate, a match in which the visitors played with 10 men for the majority after midfielder Charlie Rowlands-Whiteoak was sent off for a late tackle after 16 minutes.

The hosts then capitalised on their man advantage to lead comfortably shortly after the interval, before midfielder Aaron Fleming pulled two goals back to make the scoreline more respectable for his side.

However, the drama continued deep into injury time, with substitute George Skocki sin-binned, and long-standing physio John Dawson also sent off in a strange turn of events.

Barlick have released footage of both incidents on their social media, with many, including Gate Manager Luke Evans, admitting they had never seen such an incident before and that they were left baffled how “the nicest man in football” had been dismissed.

A new era is set to begin at the Sewer Army, with the club last night (22 November) announcing the return of Danny Craig and Liam Blades to the roles of First Team Manager and Assistant Manager, four years after their departure.

In a statement on the club’s Twitter account, Craig shared his delight in returning to the role that he stepped down from in May 2018: “I’m happy to be back and I’m looking forward to the challenge of working with the players”.

Craig and Blades will be hoping for an instant impact from their side as the Sewer Army welcome high-flying Burscough to the Silentnight Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

It will certainly be interesting to see how they get on.      REPORT BY: EMMA KENNEDY