Baker Leads Blues Into Pre-Season

By Tom Snee

Leek Town update

Leek Town director of football Neil Baker conducted his first three training sessions at Rudyard last week and was inundated with players trying to impress the experienced Blues’ boss.

No fewer than 24 players turned up last Tuesday whilst 26 took part on Thursday - a further 21 players were put through their paces on Saturday. Bake will put his new charges through another session on Tuesday.

>>Pre-season friendlies

Leek Town fans are reminded that the club’s pre-season friendlies kick off this Friday 15 July with a visit to Staffs Senior League Champions Ball Haye Green, 7.30pm.

In a unique meeting of the two sides, new Green boss Darren Baker will be pitting his wits against his more illustrious father Neil Baker whilst youngest son Martin is expected to play in the Green side.

Less than 24 hours later, Blues entertain Port Vale at Harrison Park in the first home friendly of the summer. Blues fans should note that the kick-off time for this game is 2.00pm.

>>Player watch

Leek Town director of football Neil Baker has already registered 17 players with the Evo-Stik League for the coming season including the recent capture of midfielder Michael Morton.

Morton was part of the successful set-up at Newcastle Town over the past few seasons and Baker beat off interest from several clubs in the area to sign him.

Meanwhile, Dan Cope, Blues’ leading scorer for the last two seasons, faces surgery on the knee he damaged whilst playing at Ball Haye Green in the last game of the season.

Cope saw a specialist on Friday and a torn meniscus in the knee was diagnosed. The diminutive striker will have an MRI scan within the next two weeks to confirm the diagnosis but key-hole surgery seems the most likely outcome.

>>FA Cup, Trophy and Youth Cup draws

Leek Town now know their opponents for the opening rounds of the FA Cup and FA Trophy after the draw was made by the FA at Wembley last Friday.

In the FA Cup, Blues face a journey into the unknown with an away trip to either Malvern Town or Causeway United in the Preliminary Round.

Both Malvern and Causeway played at Midland Alliance level last season although Malvern Town finished bottom and were relegated to the West Midlands Regional League.

The tie will be played on Saturday 3rd September and the winners be at home to Southam United or Tipton Town or Highgate or Willenhall Town a fortnight later.

In the FA Trophy, Blues have been given a bye in the Preliminary Round but will be at home in the First Qualifying Round against fellow Evo-Stik League First Division South sides Rainworth Miners Welfare or Hucknall Town – the game will be played on Saturday 22nd October.

Meanwhile, the draw for the FA Youth Cup has not been kind to the under-18’s. They will travel to Pegasus Juniors in the Preliminary Round and are scheduled to play away in the following two rounds.

Working parties: final call
Two last-minute working parties to get the stadium ready for the big kick off at Harrison Park next weekend, will take place this coming Thursday and Saturday.

Although Harrison Park has already undergone quite a facelift through the close season, a working party will be at the ground on Thursday 14th July from 6.30pm and on Saturday 16th July from 9.30am to add the finishing touches.

If anyone can get down and help on any of these days, even if it's only for an hour, any assistance will be greatly appreciated.

>>Blues announce FC United happy hour

Leek Town Football Club is urging fans to get down to Harrison Park early for the FC United friendly on Saturday 30th July, when the Blues Bar will be open for a happy hour - or two!!

For this fixture only, the bar will be open from 1pm and fans can buy a pint for just £2 - right up until kick-off at 3pm. The refreshment bar will also be open for business from 1.30pm where pie and peas will be available for just £2.

Tickets for the game will be on sale at various pubs around the town or in the club shop at the other friendly matches. The club is expecting a bumper crowd so the advice is to get your ticket early!

It will also be possible to pay at the turnstiles on the day if anyone makes a last-minute decision to come along!

>>More season ticket deals

On top of the new season ticket initiative recently announced, Leek Town has also launched a half-season ticket deal.

The club is aware that many Blues’ fans also have footballing affinities elsewhere and other commitments outside football, so it isn't always easy to attend every game.

So, for the first time ever this season, Blues are offering a half-season ticket. This will be for entry to ten league games and, during the initiative, this ticket will cost just £50.

A booklet containing ten vouchers will be issued to be used at any ten league games during the season, - a saving of £20 compared to paying at the gate for each game.

The sale of these tickets will also count towards the club’s 100 season tickets initiative, with two half-season tickets counting as one pledge.

Fans have been requesting the sale of half-season tickets for a number of years, so the club is trialling it this season and will retain the idea if it is successful.

This should be a perfect opportunity for all Vale, Stoke, Macclesfield and Man Utd fans to get down to Harrison Park whenever their first-choice team isn't playing.

Anyone interested should email Tracy on tracyreynolds64@yahoo.co.uk to make a pledge, or telephone 07540 161017 evenings and weekends.

>>Blues junior crèche

The Leek Town’s Junior Coaching Crèche has now been running for almost two years and was the starting point of the junior set-up at Leek Town that has now grown to some twenty teams for the coming season.

The crèche, which is aimed at fun football training for 5-7 year olds, started with around twenty members initially and now has more than eighty members

Last season, three new junior teams were born out of the crèche including two under 7's and one under 8's side whilst this coming season, the club already has one under 7's team and is very keen to establish a second one.

Crèche officials already have a few names of children in the age group who would love to be part of a team, so the club is looking for more players to make up a full side.

In addition to players, Leek Town is also looking for adults who might be prepared to help out with the team, especially someone willing to manage a team - young coaches interested in developing their skills in coaching at the crèche would also be welcomed.

If your child is interested in playing football, then please bring them along to one of the sessions held at Westwood College, from 6pm to 7pm every Thursday. During the summer holidays the crèche will move to Harrison Park.

Although Blues are looking to field new teams this season, there is absolutely no compulsion for a child to be in a side - a large number of children at the crèche just enjoy the training and have no desire to be in a team.

If anyone wants to know more about the crèche prior to attending, feel free to contact Tracy Reynolds either by email on tracyreynolds64@yahoo.co.uk or by telephone on 07540 161017 (evenings and weekends).

>>Alex Moss remembered at AGM

At the recent AGM of the Evo-Stik League, former Leek Town Vice President Alex Moss was remembered when his obituary was read out as an agenda item.

Alex passed away in December last year and a plaque in his honour has been placed on the main stand.

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