We had a chat with captain Danny Lafferty following the Glossop game just before Christmas to talk about his time Colls. Danny, you returned to Colls in 2016, dropping down from the Evo-Stik League, which a lot of people are reluctant to do. What are your memories the first season? Obviously winning the league. Probably the best one was Shildon away, that was a massive win for us. A good run in the competition, I'd say Shildon was one of the best days I've had in football. That first season resulted in a North-West Counties Championship, was that the expectation at the start of the season? Yes, 100%. I'd been speaking to Cleggy for a while, when I came down I didn't want to be playing in the North-West Counties for too long. We said one season, let's get into the Evo-Stik, and that's what we did, that was the target. Have you had a preferred defensive partner over the last couple of seasons or did the quality of Jamie Forbes, Chris Lynch etc. mean it didn't really matter? It never really mattered, I've enjoyed playing with them all. It was nice winning the league when me and Forbsy were solid at the back, that was a nice partnership but I've enjoyed playing with Grimmy, Lynchy, Ian Rowlands. I've enjoyed it all, to be fair. Last season you won the Players' Player of the Season Award, that must be an honour considering some of the characters in the dressing room? That's the one that I think personally you do want to win. It's nice to win Manager's Player of the Year and Supporters'. But to know you're getting the vote from the lads you are going onto the pitch with week in, week out, that's special. Of course the season ended on a high with us winning the Integro Cup, a special occasion for everyone at the club, did you have a highlight of that run? I'd definitely say Hednesford, the semi-final. The final, obviously it's always nice to win the cup but the final brought a lot of pressure on us and if I'm being honest I didn't enjoy the game. I don't think we played as well as we did in the semi, there we came out and literally controlled the game from the first minute. It just felt nice, a nice stadium to go to. Talk us through Jaffa Cake-gate... Jo (Kinney) came in and started bringing in food for the lads before the game, she brought some Jaffa Cakes but to be fair they were poor. Sounds like I'm being big time, I'm not being big time but I just said if we are going to have Jaffas, can we have proper ones please. She's been brilliant for us, Jo. Has this season's focus on playing attacking football changed the defensive approach to games? It's no secret we didn't score enough goals last season, defensively we did very well, we were right up there in the charts for conceding (fewest) goals but we weren't up there for scoring. Pre-season we did work a lot on attacking football and it's shown, we're scoring a lot of goals, I think we're 4th highest in non-league or something. It does leave us vulnerable every now and again at the back, but I feel we've had a lot of injuries. Greg was out, Jake Kenny, Dave Sherlock. It's a few things, we've conceded more goals than we've wanted to. Injuries have meant the full-back berths especially have involved assorted players, does that effect our structure? I think it does, it definitely effects you. If you can you want to be playing with consistency, you get to know how each other play. If different people are coming in it disjoints you, you can't get in a rhythm. I do think we struggled at one point with different faces week in, week out. As this season has been a bit devoid of a cup run, this has meant the games aren't coming thick and fast. Has this allowed us to focus on training and remain fresh or do we need those games to stay sharp? I think it has, you love a good cup run, it's exciting for us and the fans. But sometimes you pick up injuries, we've got a lot of injuries anyway. It's given us more time to recover, time on the training field and I think it's shown. We're 2nd in the league at Christmas and we'd have taken that, it's definitely improved our league form. We've got a very big 2019 coming up, have you set any targets or are those staying internal? It's not so much staying internal we just need to keep our feet on the ground, keep doing what we are doing, keep chugging away. If were were top 6 or 8 at Christmas we'd have taken that so to be 2nd, we're doing very well. One game at a time, keep ticking the three points off like we've done today.
Interview: Carl McGuire
Photo: Rob Clarke