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Mark Walling not shocked by Garstang’s flying start to life in Northern League

Mark Walling
Mark Walling

Garstang skipper Mark Walling is not too surprised to see his newly-promoted team riding high at the top of the Northern League Division One.

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The Riversiders – who won the Moore and Smalley Palace Shield Premier Division title last year – have continued this season where they left-off in 2017.

They have won all of their opening three league games and their current position at the summit has certainly raised a few eyebrows among many Northern League observers.

“Being at the top, I can believe it,” said Walling.

“If you look at the last couple of years, we have won the Meyler Cup and then last year the Palace Shield.

“We have been building for a couple of years now and have got some very good players, so it’s not much of a surprise to me.

“Maybe some teams have taken us for granted a little bit at the start of this season and we have managed to use that to our advantage.”

While thrilled by the great start, Walling reckons his men will have to step up their level again as other clubs become wise to them.

Last weekend, they scored a narrow but memorable one-wicket victory over Leyland – a team who have won the title several times in recent seasons.

However, it does not get any easier on Saturday as they travel to Stanley Park to take on another of the league’s heavyweight clubs –Blackpool.

“It was great to get the win last Saturday,” Walling said. “We were 23-5 and showed great character to win. I think the result shows just how far we have come over the last couple of years.

“If you look at the last five or six years, Leyland have been up there near the top.

“It was a great result, but we have played well in the first three games and what we have got is what we deserve.

“But we have got a massive game at Blackpool this weekend. We played them in the Lancashire Cup last year and they beat us so it will be nice to get one over on them.”

Despite his team’s lofty position, Walling is making no wild predictions about what his team can achieve this year.

“I think we will know more after the next couple of games,” he said.

“We have Blackpool and then St Annes, who are two of the biggest clubs in the league.

“But if we play good cricket then we will be in with a good shout.”

FIXTURES

NORTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE: Barrow v Fulwood and Broughton, Blackpool v Garstang, Fleetwood v Chorley, Leyland v St Annes, Morecambe v Penrith, Netherfield v Preston.