WHEN Cantilever Park is full and rocking, Mark Roberts would probably be able to hear the noise from his garden.

That is, of course, if he is not part of the action himself.

The Warrington Town captain lives just a mile away from his side’s home turf having relocated back to his native north west last summer.

He led Yellows with distinction last year as a superb campaign ended in a heartbreaking ‘super play-off’ defeat to King’s Lynn Town that denied them a place in the National League North.

However, the commanding centre-half’s decision to remain with the club is driven by a burning desire to see his local club fulfil the potential he feels it has.

“It does mean that little bit more and that’s something I came to realise as the season progressed,” he said.

“I’ve lived away for a large portion of my career but I brought my family back to the north west last summer.

“Playing for my local team and seeing it do well became incredibly important to me.

“I said to the lads after we lost the King’s Lynn game that we’d captured the town’s imagination. We started the season with crowds of 200 and ended it with the ground full.

“We know it is a rugby town, but we are trying to break down barriers and get people involved with the football club.

“I see so much potential here – I’ve looked from afar and wondered why Warrington doesn’t have a Football League club.

“There is that ambition there and there’s some wonderful people behind the scenes trying to make it happen.

“Anything that I can do to help progress this club is something that really motivates me.”

Warrington Guardian:

Mark Roberts celebrates scoring against Nantwich Town. Picture by John Hopkins

Attracting a player of Roberts’ experience and standing in the game was seen as a big coup when he agreed to join Town ahead of last season.

His career has seen him lead Stevenage to back-to-back promotions as well as captaining Fleetwood Town to a place in the Football League.

Accrington Stanley, Cambridge United and Forest Green Rovers are among the other clubs to have benefitted from his service over the years.

The experience Roberts and centre-half partner Dave Raven brought to the team helped Yellows to the BetVictor Premier Division’s best defensive record last season and earned both a place in the divisional team of the year.

It was a partnership that turned into a friendship but started away from the club.

“We were both on trial at Fylde last summer,” Roberts said.

“We ended up rooming together on a pre-season trip to Scotland and we got to know each other off the pitch really well.

“We just clicked straight away so the fact we both ended up at Warrington was really nice.

“That partnership just seemed to develop and flourish as the season progressed.

“He’s a very good footballer with a very good football brain – he is always in the right place at the right time which helps me considerably.

“I think we kept nine clean sheets on the bounce at one point last season.

“I’ve been in some great defences in my time but I’ve never known anything like that.”

Warrington Guardian:

Mark Roberts and Dave Raven were both named in the division's team of the year for last season. Picture by John Hopkins

Roberts ended up featuring in all but one of Town’s games last season, totalling 49 appearances in total.

At 35 years of age, he is in the autumn of his playing career and has studied for several football-based business qualifications in preparation for retirement.

However, he insists he is not viewing this as his last year as a player.

“You take it year by year. My fitness and the way I look after myself is still very important to me and always has been,” he said.

“I think I played around 50 games last year, which is the most I’ve played for a number of years. That love of the game spurs me on to see what I can achieve.

“I’m still very ambitious – that will never leave me.

“Looking back at some of the more difficult moments of my career, it’s definitely motivated me to go and triumph.

“I’ve lost play-off finals and finals before and it’s made me more determined to get on the winner’s podium.

“You can’t take away what we did achieve last year – winning our own division’s play-off was fantastic in itself.

“Yes, we fell at the final hurdle but as a group, it’s made us more determined to kick on.”