When you think of great strike partnerships, Shearer & Sutton, Suarez & Sturridge and Yorke & Cole all come to mind. However, there is one formidable forward force that you’re probably unaware of.

Joe Barker and Josh Hall have swept aside everyone in their way this season with 46 goals between them, as they look to guide FC St Helens to a maiden promotion to the NWCFL Premier Division.

FC St Helens' Joe Barker attempts a shot - image by Mark Gambles
FC St Helens’ Joe Barker attempts a shot – image by Mark Gambles

Despite having never played at this level before last season, Barker, in his second season with the club, has sky-rocketed his way to legendary status with the club.

A prolific forward with over 50 goals for FC St Helens, Barker never intended to become a striker at his childhood club.

The Wigan-born forward said: “Growing up, I loved playing in centre midfield, because I always wanted to get on the ball, as well as getting involved in the tackle.”

However, Barker developed a taste for goals at senior level, when moved into an attacking role at local amateur side, Winstanley.

Only 14 at the time, the now 27-year-old reflects upon that period fondly: “The open age manager wanted me to play and he put me on the wing.”

Not only did Barker demonstrate his ability to find the net, his pace and persistence was equally impressive – and still is.

Joe Barker presses an opponent - image by Mark Gambles
Joe Barker presses an opponent – image by Mark Gambles

“From there, I played up front, when needed. I left Winstanley and signed for Daten as a striker, where we won the league,” he added.

There, he first gained recognition from his current club as an opponent.

“I was asked to come down the following pre-season. They’d just been promoted and I’d scored 18 goals for Daten,” he said.

“I didn’t really know what the expectations were, I was told that we’d be looking to stay up.”

Barker’s and FC St Helens’ debut campaign in the NWCFL First Division North shared some similarities, smashing those expectations.

Now one of the club’s focal points, he scored 30 goals as they were denied a second consecutive promotion, in the play-off final.

Having hit the ground running, Barker owes much to a team stacked with quality.

Joe Barker collides with a goalkeeper - image by Mark Gambles
Joe Barker collides with a goalkeeper – image by Mark Gambles

“As much as I’m happy to be scoring, I can’t do it without the other 10 lads on the pitch, everyone has played a big part in the success of myself and the club,” he says.

Not only does Barker appreciate the support of his team-mates, he commends the professional-like quality of the club’s coaching staff, led by Manager, Mike Smith.

He said: “They’ll take time out of their personal lives to look at games that we’ve got in the future, then we’ll focus our training session on how we can break that opponent down.”

Barker is like most of the best strikers, but his attitude is what sets him apart.

The league’s leader for goals, with 25 in as many matches for the season, Barker’s priorities lie with the achievements of the club rather than himself.

He said: “If I score, I score. If I don’t, I don’t. Honestly, I would happily not score another goal, [this season], if it means that we win the league.”

Following the arrival of Hall in November, Barker has been motivated by ‘healthy competition’.

“It gives you that drive to keep your standards high and to do whatever you can to gain three points.

“He’s had a big impact on why we’re now unbeaten in six matches,” he says.

Hall has been good company for Barker, having taken a different route.

Josh Hall converts a penalty - image by Mark Gambles
Josh Hall converts a penalty – image by Mark Gambles

The club’s newest frontman has been an astute acquisition, following his arrival from Garstang of the same division, with seven goals from as many games and 21 for the season, in his first campaign at these heights.

Following his graduation in Sports Therapy aged 21, he called time on his football career, to travel for five years, after having worked with St Helens’ famous Rugby club, in addition to working for Ashton Town and the Academy of the club that he supports, Liverpool.

After travelling around Europe, Asia and South America, Hall had seen enough with his newest destination being Burscough and a return to football, eight leagues below where he currently scores his goals.

Now renowned for his goalscoring prowess, he displayed his versatility and took the Mid Lancashire League by storm, as his 28 goals helped Burscough Dynamos to promotion.

“I played 21 matches overall, two of which were in goal and 10 in centre midfield,” he recalls.

But he shone brightest when leading the line and a move to Garstang ensued.

He said: “We got to a final and the assistant manager, at the time came watching.

“He was quite brutally honest, he said: ‘I just don’t think he works hard enough for Counties football,’” something that struck a chord with Hall.

He said: “If I’m feeling a bit sluggish, I’ll spur myself on, because of that.”

Hall’s desire has since been plain to see, especially in his partnership with Barker, who he is much alike.

Josh Hall in action for FC St Helens - image by Darren Greenall
Josh Hall in action for FC St Helens – image by Darren Greenall

“If you said to me that he’s going to finish on 35 goals and I’m going to stay on 21, that doesn’t bother me – as long as we get promoted,” said the 28-year-old, echoing his counterpart.

However, it doesn’t look like he will stop at that.

In disbelief at being reminded that he’s scored 49 goals in his last 47 appearances, Hall said: “That’s impressed myself, I’ll take that!”

And that form has transferred to playing for FC St Helens where he is loving life, playing for a team solidified by solidarity.

The frontmen’s relationship off the pitch is even so good that they don’t have to communicate on it, with Hall’s own game improving, in terms of assists.

He said: “I don’t even have to look, I just know where he is.

“I back him every day of the week to find the net, it’s a pleasure to play alongside someone who has that quality.”

With two red-hot forwards at their disposal, it’s safe to say that the potential champions-elect are in safe hands.