LIFE is sweet right now for Michael Clegg, who has been engineering an historic rise for Bolton’s top non-league team.

And, ahead of his side taking on Marine in tomorrow’s FA Trophy tie, the Atherton Collieries manager has paid tribute to the collective effort that makes their success possible.

Colls host a team from the Evo-Stik Premier with a place in the third qualifying round at stake.

And Clegg, now in his fourth season as manager at the Kensite Stadium, cannot wait to put on a show for the club’s ever-growing fanbase.

“It’s a big game for us, massive,” he said.

“In terms of prestige, you could say the biggest game in the club’s history.

“If we get through who knows who we could get in the next round.

“It’s beyond belief how this club has taken off, but it is all down to the efforts of everyone connected to the club working damn hard, so I hope they enjoy the game and we can put on a good show.

“I’ve been blessed with an unbelievable group, I’ve got a great team around me who take a lot of the pressure off me.

“The support I get is incredible.”

Clegg has enjoyed a string of successes at Colls, and has seen crowds increase several times over.

And a winning mentality that served United so well has crept into the Colls dressing room, almost unnoticed. Not that it should be much of a surprise, given their recent haul of silverware.

“We won the First Division in my first year, came third and won a cup in the second, we were promoted as North West Counties champions last season and now we’re embarking on our Evo-Stik League adventure,” said Clegg, a former Wigan Athletic player.

“What I have realised now is that I’ve got a group with a great attitude, they’re a bunch of winners.

“They don’t think anyone is so good they can’t be beaten. And it’s not arrogance, it’s confidence in our ability and a belief in each other.

“We’re still a group of mates but we’re a group of mates with talent.

“We used to have about 40 people coming to watch us, now a crowd of 200 is a bad afternoon, 300 is more like the norm, and we played in front of 1,800 at South Shields last week. We got beat but what an experience it was.”

As for his team’s chances tomorrow, Clegg has identified an Atherton old boy as Marine’s prime threat.

“Vinny Bailey left to go there to cut down his travelling and he’s their danger man,” he added.

“We didn’t want him to leave but we understood his reasons and he went with our best wishes. He’s a great lad and a very good player but we believe we can limit him.

“Marine have had some good results but some bad ones too. We hope we get a massive crowd in – especially as Wanderers aren’t playing. We wanted to do an offer for Bolton’s season-ticket holders to come down and see what we’re about but it’s an FA competition so we couldn’t but maybe some will fancy coming down anyway.

“In a way, we represent Manchester and Marine are Liverpool so it could get quite tasty too!”