For­mer Worces­ter and North­wich boss Andy Preece is ready to erupt back on the man­age­ment scene

The Non-League Football Paper - - NEWS -

LIV­ING On The Vol­cano is the way Michael Calvin’s ab­sorb­ing book, of the same ti­tle, de­scribes man­age­ment. From the out­side, be­com­ing a foot­ball man­ager doesn’t al­ways seem the great­est ca­reer move. But for those who do it, live it and breathe it, there is no bet­ter job in the world. So what’s it like when you’re out of it? For­mer Bury, Worces­ter City and North­wich Vic­to­ria boss Andy Preece is cur­rently in that jam-packed waiting room hop­ing his name gets called. “If any­thing it’s made me even hun­grier,” says Preece, who left Welsh Premier League club Air­bus in Au­gust. “I pretty much watched ev­ery Na­tional League North team in the first month I was out of Air­bus. “It’s an un­be­liev­able league. I’ve seen some re­ally good games. Fylde v Sal­ford was an ab­so­lute clas­sic – three-each and some un­be­liev­able goals. “It re­ally makes you want to get back into it. That’s the hard thing. You want an al­le­giance with one team or the other. You go and watch a game as a neu­tral, but it’s nice to be on the side where it re­ally mat­ters. “I’m lucky I’m work­ing in foot­ball with Fleet­wood’s Academy and I’m work­ing at Black­pool & Fylde Col­lege with a foot­ball team. “But that ac­tual Satur­day, where it’s about the three points, the ball is go­ing in the 18-yard box and your heart is in your mouth – that feel­ing is some­thing I re­ally miss.


“Why would you want to put your­self through that stress, why would you want to go back into it? But once you’ve been in it, it’s in your blood. It’s some­thing that fires the juices. I feel it’s some­thing I’m good at, and meant to be do­ing.” Preece’s CV can vouch for that. In his four-and-half years in Wales, he took Air­bus to new heights. In a di­vi­sion dom­i­nated by pow­er­house TNS, fin­ish­ing run­ners-up as a part-time club is a big achieve­ment as he led the club into Europe. Of their six games on that stage, they only lost twice, with a 2-2 draw against Croa­t­ian side Loko­mo­tiv Zagreb a real high­light. “It’s def­i­nitely im­proved me as a man­ager, no doubt about that,” Preece says. “It’s al­most a to­tally dif­fer­ent game in Europe. In Croa­tia, their Press couldn’t be­lieve we were part-time. We had to ex­plain half-a-dozen times. They just wouldn’t have it, ‘These lads are work­ing?’ You take pride in those per­for­mances.” This week it will be five years since the 49-year-old left North­wich Vic­to­ria. His side fa­mously beat Charl­ton Ath­letic in the FA Cup, but suc­cess on the pitch was ham­pered by the farce off it. In ad­min­is­tra­tion and ow­ing big money, they were rel­e­gated from Non-League’s top flight into the Con­fer­ence North – de­spite win­ning their fi­nal six games – and a sea­son later were booted down again. “One minute you’re in the Con­fer­ence, the next you’re in the North­ern Premier League af­ter win­ning 60 per cent of your games,” Preece says. Preece had grown ac­cus­tomed to off-field prob­lems in his first job at Bury, who he guided into the Di­vi­sion Three play-offs in 2003. He has man­aged nearly 700 games and pretty much comes with a guar­an­tee of suc­cess. All helped, he says, by those tricky ex­pe­ri­ences. “I’ve seen the other side of it and how dif­fi­cult it can be,” says Preece, who feels he can man­age back in the Foot­ball League. “Fans with col­lec­tion buck­ets, play­ers strug­gling to pay bills – to have to deal with all that is not easy. So you have to think on your feet. “It’s amaz­ing what goes on dur­ing the week. Peo­ple think you go on the train­ing pitch, work on your shape, a few set pieces and that’s it. But there’s al­ways lit­tle prob­lems here and there – that’s part of man­age­ment. One of my big­gest skills is han­dling those lit­tle things that can get you down. “Even in the dark­est days I was able to keep every­one to­gether so when the lads went out on the pitch they for­get all about that and per­form to the max­i­mum. That’s what your job is.” For now he’ll keep do­ing his home­work of the leagues, so when that next chance does come, he’ll be ready. “I just have the feel­ing that the next club is go­ing to be the one,” he says. “It’s go­ing to be the one that cat­a­pults the club and my­self to where I’d like to get to.” Back on the vol­cano.

PIC­TURE: Action Images

GRIND­ING OUT RE­SULTS: Andy Preece on the touch­line and, in­set, cel­e­brat­ing beat­ing Charl­ton as North­wich Vic­to­ria boss with Michael Aspin

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