Morecambe Ladies’ manager believes his side can “do a Bradford” as they look to upset the odds in the Women’s FA Cup this weekend.
Nick Barrett compared The Shrimps girls’ trip to Coventry on Sunday in the third round to the Bantams upsetting Aston Villa last week to reach the Capital One Cup final.
The Lancaster and Morecambe College sports centre manager sees the trip to the Midlands as the perfect test for a team looking to secure back-to-back promotions this year.
“They’re three rungs higher than us in the ladder,” said Barrett. It’s like Bradford going to Aston Villa, and as you saw from the other night these things don’t always turn out how you’d expect.
“They’re as near to professional as you can be in the women’s game, so they’ve obviously got a good set-up, with back-up staff, physios, doctors, managers, trainers, the lot.
“For us it’s a big game because we want to test ourselves. We know we’re a good team in the league we’re in now but with the players we’ve got are we going to get any further?
“If we go to Coventry and come away with our heads held high, I’m not saying a victory, we know that progression is on the cards.
“But we’ll look for the win. You never know, maybe we can do a Bradford.”
The ladies are currently unbeaten in the North West Women’s Premier Division and the rise and rise of his side means Barrett has overseen some important games in recent times, but nothing as big as this.
“It’s definitely the biggest game in the club’s history,” he said.
“We’ve been in two cup finals and had last game of the season matches that mean we’ve got promoted but to reach the third round is beyond our expectations.
“At the start of last season one of our targets was to reach the second round and we didn’t achieve it.
“This year we’ve been there, done that, and we’re in the third round. So it’s the biggest thing we’ve ever done. “
Barratt got involved with the club in 2005 after being approached by founder and player Sophie Fish, who also works at the college’s sports centre.
“She asked me and I said I’d go down and have a look.” said Barrett.
“I did, and I’m not saying I didn’t like what I saw but there were good players and players who weren’t good enough.
“So the first year I came in we finished mid-table, and then I’ve tried each year to look at different players.
“I went up to the University and got one or two players from there, and then players from other clubs who I knew were floating about and weren’t playing anymore.
“Locally we’ve got some good players but they tend to side step us and go to Blackpool, Preston or Blackburn because they’re higher profile clubs.
“I think the way things are going now, we’re training twice a week, we’ve got a good set-up, we’re progressing up the leagues, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be coming to us.”
It’s not just player recruitment Fish and Barrett have to mastermind from the college offices currently surrounded by building works.
Amongst washing the kit, arranging the fixtures and preparing the half-time oranges, there’s always number crunching to be done, with the girls paying to play for the club.
“It’s been our best season ever in terms of revenue,” said Barrett.
“But for this trip we’ve had to hire buses which is £500-odd with the accommodation for the night before.
“If we win, great, we get something like £400, that goes back into the kitty and pays for most of the trip, but if not, that’s £500 to £600 out of the club’s kitty which basically leaves us with not a lot.
“We tend to just about hold our heads above water but it’s just little special things you’d like to do, to treat the girls or take them away that we can’t do.
“A lot of the girls are students or work away, in Preston, Ulverston and they’re paying £10 or £12 just to get here, then you have to charge them again.
“They do it for the love and with the way things are going they’re as keen as ever.”