Goalkeeper Daniel Atherton says he can’t wait to get started with Warrington Town in the Pitching In Northern Premier League 2021/22 season.
The former Liverpool youngster signed with the Yellows earlier in July after impressing manager Paul Carden during pre-season, with the club securing the talented number one despite competition.
Born in Haydock and a boyhood Liverpool fan, Atherton featured for Liverpool’s Under 18s and Under 23s side, playing in the EFL Trophy as well as the UEFA Youth League.
He had a loan spell at Marine back in 2020, which was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic. Atherton originally trained with Warrington Town ahead of the 2020/21 campaign, before opportunities abroad came about.
“I came and trained with the club last season as we came out of the first lockdown,” he said.
“I liked the club and the lads and loved the set up. I continued coming on Tuesday and Thursdays and match days to come and watch and warm up and stuff and just wanted to be involved.
“There were a few things that I had to get out of the way, a few opportunities that came out that I’d have regretted not taking. I took them, but now is the perfect time now with a new season and the fans are back. I want to try and get the club to the next level.
“I went to Spain and came back and was going to sign with Warrington, then a few trials came up at the likes of Watford for example, so I had to see what it was like.
“Then the end of trials came around and I had an opportunity to play in New York and go away for three months and play over the summer. It meant that I would be getting game time and get out of the country and it was a great experience.
“If I said no, I’d have been kicking myself. I think going away and going to Spain, America and all these different types of clubs has only benefitted me. I feel I have improved over the last year and a bit since I left Liverpool. Different styles of football, different managers, different types of games and stuff like that, they’re all experiences that I can draw back on to help the club push on.
“The club has been sniffing around the top, so if we keep getting there and there about, I hope I can help be that difference to push us over the edge and get us up a league.
“I can’t wait to get started. I’m very excited about it. It’s been a long time coming, but I think I’ve gone out and done what I’ve had to do in the time that I was away. I’m ready now, I’ve got a bit more experience and I really want to help try to get us to that next level.”
The Pitching In Northern Premier League 2021/22 season kicks-off on August 14, as the Yellows host FC United of Manchester at Cantilever Park.
So far during pre-season, the side have faced the likes of Tranmere Rovers and Accrington Stanley, and continue their preparations tonight against Southport at home.
“I think I’ve found myself in a very similar position to the club,” said Atherton.
“The club has aspirations about where they want to be. They want to be higher and this isn’t the level myself or the club want to be at.
“I want to use this opportunity and try and get the most success for club. The more success for the club, the better off it looks for me and helps me in my career. If I can help the club get into the play-offs or automatic promotion and get us to the next level, then it looks positive on me and want to keep climbing the table and climbing the leagues.
“Speaking to Cards and Toby (Macormac, chairman), the club has a lot of aspirations and a lot of time and effort that goes in.”
Season tickets remain on sale for the upcoming campaign, with fans permitted to attend and season tickets allowing fans to all 21 home league fixtures.
On the supporters, Atherton added: “The fans are so close at this level. We rely on fans.
“We can’t do what we’re doing and perform the level we perform without the fans. It’s difficult without fans and we saw that as the previous season got wrote off. It proves straight away that without fans, non-league football doesn’t work.
“Everyone is in the same boat, they are a part of the club. Being at Liverpool, you have God knows how many fans but it’s a similar feel there. A lot of bigger clubs aren’t quite like that. But fans here that turn up week-in-week-out and watch us at Warrington are fans of football and fans of us. It’s a nice feel to it and everyone is part of the same team, from fans, to staff and everyone involved.
“Alongside that feeling of everyone being in the same boat, you want to do well for those turning up and paying to watch you. It gives you the extra push. It’s like, listen, over 700 have come to watch us in a friendly against Tranmere, lets put all of our efforts into it. It gives you the extra boost.”
It’s clear that Atherton is a determined, motivated player, and when asked about his goals to finish the conversation, he added, “I want to win every game, save every shot and finish top of the league.”