NO BOSS SHOULD GO THROUGH WHAT I HAVE
JUSTIN EDINBURGH ON HIS TOUGH TRIP TO
JUSTIN EDINBURGH has worked hard to become a Football League manager. And when I say ‘hard’ that’s not doing the Newport County boss justice.
The former Tottenham fullback’s journey began a decade ago when he took the reins at Billericay Town in the Ryman League in his native Essex.
That was followed by spells at Fisher, Grays and Rushden & Diamonds, where football paled into insignificance compared to what he went through off it.
Edinburgh’s strength of character as a man, not just as a manager, was tested when Diamonds keeper Dale Roberts, a huge favourite in a tight Nene Park dressing room, took his own life.
The Diamonds later folded to leave Edinburgh and several staff members unemployed.
All of that considered, it is easy to see why County’s dream return to the League with a 4-1 win over Accrington and 3-1 win at Brighton in the League Cup in midweek has caused Edinburgh to reflect.
“It’s been a special week for everyone involved with this club,” Edinburgh said.
“To beat Accrington in the manner we did and then to go to a top end Championship club and win was incredible.
“I’ve waited an awful long time to get to this level and gone through a lot during my time in the Non-League game. “I had to deal with things no football manager should ever have to go through. Seeing people at Rushden lose their jobs was just dreadful but nothing compared to what we went through after Dale.
“He was just a lovely and incredibly talented lad. I’ve got a few Rushden lads here at Newport with me and there’s not a day goes by when we don’t think about him.
“You do take stock and look back when you’ve achieved something and we can all be very proud of the way we’ve started this new challenge.”
But Edinburgh, who won both domestic cups with Spurs, would not swap his managerial grounding.
He even made headlines this week when he said Seagulls boss Oscar Garcia had been fortunate to land the coveted role. “There are so many top managers in the Conference and below and more of these boys should be given a chance,” adds Edinburgh, firmly sticking to his guns.
“I wasn’t having a go at Oscar at all, it’s just people in Leagues One and Two and below never get a look in and that means the Conference boys don’t as well. That’s really frustrating.
“The three managers who won promotion from the Championship last season were Malky Mackay, Steve Bruce and Ian Holloway. “All British so we must be doing something right somewhere. “I’ve always been desperate to be a Football League manager. I thought it would happen sooner than it has but now I’m here I don’t intend standing still. As a player I got to the top level and I’d like to think I can do the same as a manager.”
If the job he’s doing at Rodney Parade is anything to go by bigger clubs will soon be circling.
In the 22 months since he took the reins in South Wales he’s guided the club out of relegation trouble, masterminded promotion and now started life in the League brilliantly.
Welsh football has never been healthier with Cardiff and Swansea in the Premier League but Edinburgh does have a word of caution for Exiles fans getting ahead of themselves. “It’s two games and there’s a long, old slog ahead. Unfortunately for the fans I’m not going to say we’re going to win this, that and the other.
“We’ll look to stabilise the club at this level and see where it takes us. We’ve only just employed our second full-time staff member off the pitch with a secretary coming in to join the chief executive.
“The continuity of keeping the squad together has been key. We’ve got 15 lads together and the spirit and togetherness they have will take us a long way.
“Last year the aim was to get in and around the top ten and push on at Christmas if we could.
“Fortunately we got off to a flyer and never dropped out of the top five, managed to add a player or two and we did the job in the playoffs.
“Winning promotion helped keep this squad together as League One and Two clubs were after four or five of our players.
“We’ve also added quality in the likes of Harry Worley, Chris Zebroski, Ryan Jackson, Adam Chapman and Jamie Stephens and they will all grow here.
“If we can get on a run then you never know. The club is heading in the right direction and as long as it’s doing that I will be a happy man.”
GOING UP IN THE WORLD: Justin Edinburgh gets the bumps form his delighted Newport players after securing promotion in the play-off Left: Christian Jolley celebrates the first play-off goal with Edinburgh