WHITBY Town’s most successful manager is making a plea to the people of the town to help the Blues beat off the spectre of relegation, writes Andrew Snaith.
With the Blues facing arguably their biggest game of the season at bottom club Burscough on Saturday, Harry Dunn told supporters: “With the club having difficult times and they’ve got two new lads in charge, it’d be nice to get another 100 people through the gates to help everyone, because they’re working tremendously hard to keep the club going.
“They’ve got a hardcore of 280 to 290 people who are there week in, week out and good support.
“It would be nice, if you’ve been to an FA Cup tie or you were at Wembley, to come and give the club a little bit of support between now and the end of the season – it’d help out tremendously.”
Third-bottom Town remain five points adrift of safety with Stocksbridge Park Steels, the club on the other side of the relegation cut-off, facing a testing trip to promotion-chasers FC United of Manchester this weekend.
Burscough are likely to see the clash as their final shot at keeping their Evo-Stik NPL Premier status, with 15 points separating them from Steels and even second-bottom Buxton sitting nine points clear.
The Bucks won 2-1 last Saturday away to their basement rivals, who have just two wins from their last 20 outings, following a 4-0 reverse at leaders Chester on Wednesday night.
Dunn has praised the work of current Town boss Darren Williams and his backroom team and believes the new management team at the Turnbull have brought the players further together.
“You’ve got to look at the reaction when the second goal was scored against Rushall, I think every player apart from keeper Nick Liversedge was in the huddle,” he said.
“They knew how much of an important game it was and the relief at the end of the game was on every player and the lads in the box as well and I think that shows there is a togetherness about them now.”
Dunn, who took the Seasiders to FA Vase glory at Wembley Stadium in 1997 and back-to-back promotions after half a century in the Northern League, says Williams and assistant Dave Campbell “have done a real good job since they took over, there’s no doubt about that.”
One of North East non-league’s highest-rated coaches, Dunn says he’s just enjoying life as a spectator these days and doing the occasional scouting job for Campbell.
He told the Whitby Gazette: “I made it quite plain that when I finished with Whitby, that’s it – I’m just out to watch football now, regardless of what the standard is.”
On the Blues, he added: “The team’s an awful lot better than what it was.
“I could see Whitby being relegated before Christmas, the way things were going. I think they’ve improved dramatically. We have to make sure we stop up then give Darren and Cammy a real good go at it for next season.”
Meanwhile, midfielder Jimmy Beadle has admitted he’s played close to 100 games with just a few weeks’ respite, due to last month’s weather, after spending the summer competing in Sweden - and it’s taking its toll.
“I am probably running on empty, to be fair, at times,” he said.
“I’ve played in excess of 90 matches almost without a break.
“When the season ends, I won’t be looking at a football for a good few months.”
However, the former York City schemer, who jointly leads the Blues’ scoring stakes after returning to the club from Bradford Park Avenue in November, isn’t about to give up his place without a fight, claiming: “To be honest, the last two games, I’ve felt as fit as when I joined.
“I look after my fitness a lot during the week and I do think I’m valuable to the team.
“I’ll have to show some mental strength and do as well as I can for the last ten games.”
Like the Blues’ previous hosts Worksop, Burscough have recently returned to their former home ground.
The West Lancashire outfit were playing eight miles down the road at First Division North Skelmersdale United after owners Chequers Properties put their Victoria Park ground up for sale, at the beginning of the season.
But a lack of buyers for the land means a return to playing in the village, which has a population of less than 9,000.
A supporters’ coach, bound for Burscough, leaves the Turnbull Ground at 9am, with seats still just £10 each.
Whitby physio Kenny Bolton has confirmed strike pair Andy Appleby, who left the field against Hednesford last week with a tight calf and Jamie Clarke, who also took a knock during that game, are expected to be fit and available for the trip.
Another forward, youngster Jordan Hugill, is still awaiting test results on a knee injury.