SILSDEN'S remarkable rise to the summit has seen them net their division's highest increase in average crowd figures.

Ahead of Saturday's crunch trip to second-placed Litherland REMYCA, the Cobbydalers sit 12 points clear at the top of North West Counties League Division One after winning their first 17 games in the competition.

Defeat at Holker Old Boys ended that run but Danny Forrest's men bounced back with a 1-0 win at home to neighbours Nelson when they attracted their highest attendance of 247 this season.

That has given them an average of 160 which is just short of a 40 per cent increase on last season and bucks the trend which sees the vast majority of other second-tier clubs suffering declining gates.

Only Whitchurch Alport have a higher average (214) in the same division, while just five Premier Division clubs boast better figures.

Forrest, whose side were frustrated by a third successive postponement last Saturday due to the winter weather when their match at Atherton LR bit the dust, said: "The lads are really enjoying having those extra people come in through the gate.

"They're throwing themselves into what we're doing and believing in it, and when they see those extra people come through the turnstiles it shows they are generating extra interest and their efforts are appreciated."

And it's not just at home but also on the road where Silsden have been buoyed by a good following.

Forrest said: "We went to Prestwich on a Tuesday night and we took 30, 35 fans, maybe more. That meant a lot to all of us and it's something I'm really proud of.

"We've been to away games where there's just been our press officer and his wife coming. The extra people mean a lot to the lads and it's a great reward for them to be playing in front of bigger crowds."

That extra support will certainly come in handy for this weekend's journey to Litherland, who used up their game in hand last Saturday when they could only draw at home to bottom club Nelson.

Silsden then return to the Cobbydale Construction Stadium for a Boxing Day clash with Chadderton.

With the fans doing their bit, the players are determined to capitalise on their fantastic start by clinching promotion.

Changes to the non-league structure mean Silsden's division will be divided in two next season, with north and south tiers in an expanded regional format.

Forrest admits it raises the stakes, with the boss keen to get back into the top flight before the split.

He said: "The leagues changing means there's a lot to play for. Two teams go up and one in the play-offs (currently) so there's a lot more chance, especially when next season there might not be as many going up.

"We hoped we would be up there and have a chance. Regardless of the league changes, our aim was always to do what we are doing.

"Now, we've put ourselves in a great position. It is very early, but I hope we will still be there or thereabouts at the season's end.

"Ideally, with the position we're in, we'll go up this season, but I'm not taking anything for granted."