“I’m loving every minute of my time at Farsley Celtic, says head coach Clayton Donaldson ahead of Saturday’s home game against Brackley.

“It was an unusual start as I came here initially as a player, before becoming manager soon afterwards, but I’ve relished and enjoyed every minute since I arrived. I’ve loved it so far, it’s a new challenge for me.”

Farsley Celtic and the National League North is a different experience to some of the bigger clubs Clayton has been involved with, such as Sheffield United, Birmingham CIty and Brentford.

“Obviously Farsley is a small village, it’s compact but it feels very homely compared to some of the other places I have been in the past,” he said. “I feel there is more love for the club here, the fans are all local and they have been so welcoming. They’ve been brilliant and you can always hear and see them at away games especially – they have helped me settle in and they always help the team.

“It is a nice friendly club and the second biggest (football club) in Leeds. It’s a community club, which I like. There’s always something going on at the ground which is great.

“I feel at home here. The chairman and director of football, my assistant coaches and Gaz the physio have all been a big help and made it a lot easier. I’ve enjoyed it so far.”

We’ve brought in a number of new players this season. Photo: John McEvoy

It has been a big period of change for Farsley both on and off the pitch. 

Last season saw a number of additions to the board and the summer saw a new management team, playing style and a large turnover in players, with only five of last season’s squad retained.

But the transition period doesn’t phase the 39-year-old player and head coach. “This is a new leaf for me and I’ve been able to bring in my own philosophy and style.

“I think some people read too much into pre-season when we didn’t win a game {three draws and three defeats}. I just saw it as a free hit, when we could look at formations, tactics, playing styles and, of course, the players themselves. It wasn’t about the results, but about systems and fitness, of course.”

Darren Stevenson, Conor Branson and Rudy Misambo were three summer signings for The Celts. Photo: John McEvoy

The Celts, of course, got off to a strong start in National League North and were unbeaten in their first six games before slipping to a Bank Holiday Monday defeat at Chester.

“I always say the Saturday-Monday turnaround is wrong,” he says. “I had to rotate the squad and take a long-term view to prevent injuries, which is a challenge when you have a small squad. 

“The players have had to play in different positions at times, and they have adapted and taken well to it. Once you have a footballing brain you can play in different positions. We’re very clear what we want from players and they have taken it on board.”

Clayton Donaldson on the attack against Scarborough. Photo: John McEvoy

So what are the aims for the rest of the season?

“Keep going,” Clayton says. He’s pleased with the start we’ve made overall.

He feels a top half finish would be great, but stressed the importance of ‘baby steps’, pointing to the club’s flirtation with relegation in the past couple of seasons. He points to progression on the pitch as being an important part of his philosophy, and ensuring that the club is heading in the right direction.

Today’s opponents Brackley Town are likely to prove a stern test of his new philosophy.

“It’s likely to be a very physical game and very tough. They’ve been in and around the playoffs and pushing for automatic promotion for the past few years and are a strong and organised side. Their recent results have been good.

“It’ll be a tight game but we have prepared well and are going into it after a great win at Scarborough. We’re full of confidence.”

One thing is clear, head coach Clayton Donaldson’s era has firmly arrived at Farsley Celtic, and he’s determined to see his team make progress – starting today against Brackley.