On arriving at Sandy Lane, the home of Worksop Town, this past August, James ‘Baxo’ Baxendale was quickly installed as vice-captain by manager Craig Parry.
Describing the feeling he has at Worksop akin to that in which he enjoyed for near four years at League Two Walsall, Baxo and his teammates are acing their early days at the North Nottinghamshire club, and they’re dreaming big.
Baxo himself would love nothing more than for Worksop “to do a Harrogate” and be promoted to the Football League in the not-too-distant future, and they’re hopeful of the good times rolling, even though he’s still adjusting to life in non-league.
“The past few years have been a whole lifestyle change for me,” admits Baxo.
“All I’d known was being a professional footballer so, finding my feet in non-league, it’s a whole different ball-game to what I’ve done before.”
In coming to Worksop, Baxo was ecstatic to be afforded the vice-captaincy, and the club has enjoyed a decent start to the current campaign, sitting sixth in the table of fourteen points from seven outings, five adrift of leaders Leek Town, and with the Tigers having a game in hand.
There’s even been those cup fever nights where Worksop found themselves unlucky to lose on penalties at home to Chester (following a 2-2 draw) in the FA Cup, and a penalty-shoot-out success when home to Ramsbottom United (after a 4-4 draw) in the FA Trophy already this season – it’s all part of the name of the beautiful game.
“We lost to Chester (in the FA Cup) having been two goals up going into the final stages before losing on penalties,” explained Baxo.
“I honestly believe that it was their fitness levels that saw them through though.
“Our league form has been really good as well, and my job, on the football pitch, is essential to provide a supply of chances to our attackers, a three-pronged attack we have in a 4-3-3 formation.”
Now enjoying his football again, it’s a key component to any footballers game, Baxo even donned the captain’s armband in the early stages if this season due to the absence of striker, Gavin Allott, a prolific scorer in the non-league game.
Previously having built a good reputation whilst at Pontefract Collieries, manager Craig Parry knows how to get the right mind-set into his players. It’s that fact that would help sell Baxo the Tigers dream.
“I was told to come here, play football, and to enjoy myself with a smile on my face, and that’s what we’re doing,” adds Baxo.
“There’s a really good group of lads here, a manager whom we all respect, and a great set-up in the club as a whole.
“Yes, we’re capped at 400 spectators right now (due to current, government guidelines), but we could sell this place two, three times over, easily, and the support the club has, it’s unbelievable, even the fifty or so hardy souls who travel to midweek games.”
Because of that unwavering, terrace support, the camaraderie that comes with them and been instilled throughout the beating heart of Sandy Lane, Baxo and company honestly believe that they’re onto something truly special.
“We really want to do something this season,” stated Baxo.
“Promotion, yes, and hopefully by winning the league, especially if we can keep this start we’ve had going, and by playing the kind of football the fans here want to watch.
“We play at a hundred miles an hour, and we’re enjoying it, I’m enjoying it, and that works for me.”
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @worksoptownfc James Baxendale has been an immediate hit at Sandy Lane.