A warm welcome to everyone at Shawbridge.
Today we entertain Glossop and it will be great to see Lloyd and Bandy, two of the good guys in non league football management. I have had many battles against these two and they’ve had a tough year, like ourselves, and having taken the Glossop job at a similar time to me taking the Clitheroe job they have faced similar issues. It will be interesting to see how they do next season with a full year in the job.
In our last game we were at home against Ramsbottom, and we put in a much improved display from the previous game. We were undone by two Jamie Rainford goals, and I received a message from Jamie the day after the game, and although I will keep it private it was very complimentary to us and the way we played. Jamie has scored some very important goals for Ramsbottom as well as two more on Tuesday night, putting them fourth in the table. He would have done the same for us, and I knew when we lost him that we would miss him. With Max having injury problems we have lacked that prolific scorer that Jamie is.
Since then I’ve added two more players to the squad, Bevan Buray joins us who was mentioned to me couple of weeks ago. I had him watched before trying to sign him, and he will add pace to our wide areas. I’m looking forward to him showing the attacking options that he has showed us in the couple of training sessions that he has been with us.
I’ve also added Phil Marsh who has a wealth of experience, including playing for Manchester United in his younger days. I have admired Phil for many years and he always impresses in games against me. In our recent game against Droylsden I remember him hitting the bar with a shot from 30 yards. These two players will add experience to the squad that we have needed.
We’ve been on a bad run, and with no luck, injuries, and playing teams at the wrong time. It looks like I am looking for, and finding, excuses. Others would say, “make your own luck”, “get some depth in the squad” and “every team has problems”, but sometimes it’s not that easy.
A few weeks ago after the Runcorn game, I spoke to our chairman, and said I felt we needed to make changes, and explained how I was going to so that. So in the past 4 weeks we have added Purdham, Lonsdale, Langford, Low, Kerrigan, Marsh and Buray. 7 players, which is a huge change. I have worked hard to rebuild the team again, and with 8 games to go and the transfer deadline looming we have now almost got a new team on the pitch.
So this season we have realistically had three different squads over 8 months, which isn’t ideal, but due to circumstances we’ve had to do that. I am now looking forward to the challenge of our remaining 8 fixtures.
With Skelmersdale still dropping points, and Colwyn Bay leaving the league, we are now safe so the next 8 games gives us the opportunity to play with no pressure and to play some good football, which we have always tried to implement anyway.
The challenge to the players is now to prove that they are a good team and can get results.
Football management is a dream come true. I love it. I love the challenge of dealing with players, dealing with budgets, speaking to journalists, committees and supporters. I’m doing what a lot of people would love to have the opportunity to do. But that doesn’t mean anyone that hasn’t ever done it can honestly understand the difficulties you face.
Juggling your own life as well as giving over 100% to the role that is trusted to me by the committee is sometimes straining but I wouldn’t change it, and I will keep doing it.
I have been involved with non league football for 21 years and throughout that time I have based everything on honesty with supporters, through interviews and programme notes, and with some supporters face to face. I’ve made friends, and more than likely the odd enemy, but I am pretty sure more friends than enemies.
Maybe I care too much about what others think, but I won’t change, because that’s me. I had a fantastic upbringing and was fortunate enough to have two parents that taught me values and how to respect people.
Those values show in my management style. I have been honest with players and with the committee. And I’m being honest with you now when I tell you this group of players will be doing all they can to finish the season on a high, and to win some football matches at Shawbridge that the club has struggled to do for well over 12 months. We all want to finish the season well and we will keep working hard both off and on the pitch to do so. I will keep living my dream.
Enjoy the game.