Ex­pe­ri­ence leads Bower up the right Av­enue

The Non-League Football Paper - - NEWS - By Jon Couch

MARK BOWER says ex­pe­ri­ence is the key to Brad­ford Park Av­enue’s un­ex­pected pro­mo­tion push.

Bower led a great es­cape last sea­son in steer­ing Av­enue to sur­vival in Na­tional League North against all odds.

Now, af­ter mak­ing a raft of top sum­mer sign­ings, the club are chal­leng­ing at the other end of the ta­ble and look­ing up, not down.

Av­enue have proved to be the sur­prise pack­age of this year’s North divi­sion with Bower’s men oc­cu­py­ing the last play-off spot ahead of yes­ter­day’s trip to much-im­proved York City.

And Bower be­lieves his squad have all the in­gre­di­ents to con­tinue up­set­ting the odds and clear the fi­nal hur­dle into Non-League’s topflight – just like he did at former club Guise­ley.

“We’ve prob­a­bly got the old­est squad in the league, but with that comes many ben­e­fits,” Bower told The NLP. “We have play­ers in the ranks with plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence and knowhow of turn­ing tight games into vic­to­ries, and that’s what we’ve been able to do so far this sea­son.

“We have play­ers in the squad who have won pro­mo­tions, reach­ing play-off fi­nals and this stands us in good stead when it comes to big one-off games and the tense end-of-sea­son run-in.

“Of course, there is cer­tainly room for im­prove­ment but I’m op­ti­mistic we can be in and amongst it still come the end of the sea­son and if we can squeeze into the play-offs, then who knows?”


Bower, of course, has been here be­fore, lead­ing Guise­ley to pro­mo­tion from the Na­tional League North for the first time in the club’s his­tory in 2014-15 and then steer­ing the Li­ons to top-flight safety be­fore part­ing com­pany with the club a month into the 2016-17 sea­son.

“It’s a tough league, more so than ever this sea­son,” the 37-year-old former Brad­ford City de­fender added. “It’s so tight, any of the top 15 clubs will be­lieve they have a chance to get into the play-offs.

“We’ve com­peted at this level for a while now and when it comes to re­sources, we should be near the bot­tom, not near the top. We can’t com­pete with the Sal­fords, Stock­ports and Yorks of this world as we have to run a very tight ship, but we’ve given our­selves a good chance.

“We’ve seen so many ups and downs and there’s many more to come. Just this last week or so, we saw Nuneaton beat Har­ro­gate, FC United beat Sal­ford City and Dar­ling­ton slip into the bot­tom three, it’s crazy.

“At Guise­ley, my job was to sta­bilise and start again, but this is a bit dif­fer­ent. This club has a proud his­tory as a former Foot­ball League club and that is where we want to be again.

“We’re in a big city and there is a lot of work go­ing on to up­grade the fa­cil­i­ties at the ground and in the academy in or­der to help the club progress.

“We are cer­tainly ahead of sched­ule, hope­fully hav­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence of get­ting Guise­ley up will stand me and my staff in good stead for the rest of the sea­son.”

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