The Non-League Football Paper - - NEWS -

FOR REA­SONS not ap­pro­pri­ate for air­ing in th­ese pages, I found my­self at the Labour Party Con­fer­ence in Brighton re­cently and just a few yards away from the brave and bril­liant film­maker Ken Loach. I just had to ap­proach him for a chat.

What did we talk about? One of the great­est of all Bri­tish films, per­haps, Kes, which he di­rected and which con­tains the best foot­ball scene ever in a film, with bul­ly­ing PE teacher Brian Glover de­ter­mined to dom­i­nate a school kick­about? Loach’s most re­cent per­haps, the rad­i­cal I, Daniel Blake?

Ac­tu­ally, we dis­cussed the Non-League game. He was aware of Sal­is­bury FC, where I am vice-chair­man, and our phoenix club’s quest to rise up the leagues. And I was aware of his love for Bath City.

Ken – if he’ll par­don me be­ing over-fa­mil­iar – was sad. At the state of the coun­try as he sees it, of course, but also at Gary Ow­ers’s de­par­ture from Tw­er­ton Park to take over at Torquay United.


They had lost a good man and man­ager, he reck­oned. Per­haps this week’s ap­point­ment of Jerry Gill as re­place­ment will cheer him up.

Even the great go through the same emo­tions as the rest of us. And when it comes to this mov­ing month for man­agers, as it al­ways is, those emo­tions be­come height­ened anew. It is ‘Sack­to­ber’. The op­ti­mism of Au­gust has given way to the re­al­i­ties of Au­tumn.

The re­cruit­ment wasn’t as good as ev­ery­one thought and nei­ther are re­sults. The man­ager is to blame and must go. Sim­ple.

Ac­tu­ally, it never is. Ev­ery man­age­rial change has a dif­fer­ent story, a set of is­sues be­hind it. And they are not al­ways about re­sults. Per­son­al­i­ties and eco­nomics also in­trude, with each club’s set of cir­cum­stances dif­fer­ent.

That much can be seen in the York City/Dar­ling­ton saga of the past week. Out goes Gary Mills from Bootham Cres­cent af­ter FA Cup de­feat at South Shields, in comes Martin Gray from Darlo.

There, Brian Atkin­son and Sean Gre­gan last just a few days in charge, Atkin­son be­cause he is a di­rec­tor of Gray’s academy and there is a con­flict of in­ter­est and Gre­gan be­cause he wanted a con­tract be­yond the end of this season. The so­lu­tion be­came a prob­lem at Black­well Mead­ows.

Early days but at Plain­moor mean­while, Ow­ers could be the so­lu­tion to the prob­lem, as Torquay recorded their first win in mid­week, and by a con­vinc­ing 4-0 over Maiden­head.

It may have also been a re­sult that partly prompted sim­i­larly strug­gling Soli­hull Moors to fire Liam McDon­ald af­ter a 3-1 home de­feat by Ebb­s­fleet United the same night.


Re­sults have also done for Alan Lewer at South­port. No matter in­juries or sus­pen­sions, the po­ten­tial to put things right, five de­feats in a row at any club are hard to sur­vive.

We have our own cir­cum­stances at Sal­is­bury. De­spite win­ning a ti­tle and reach­ing a play-off fi­nal in his two full sea­sons, there is a lit­tle knot of naysay­ers who want Steve Clar­idge out.

And to heck with his record of 102 wins from 135 com­pet­i­tive matches be­fore yes­ter­day – a win ra­tio of 75 per cent!

For a man who helped set up the new club, it is a sad in­grat­i­tude from a tiny few, but that is foot­ball. You can’t please all of the peo­ple...

Doubt­less there will be more man­agers los­ing their jobs this com­ing week, this month. Some will de­serve it – and some will even be re­lieved when it hap­pens. For oth­ers it would be an in­jus­tice.

The test for any board or a com­mit­tee is to see the big pic­ture, tak­ing into ac­count the club’s fi­nances, which only they re­ally know.

While ac­knowl­edg­ing the back­ground noise, they have to make the de­ci­sion to stick or twist with the club’s in­ter­ests at heart, not the per­sonal agen­das of the loud­est voices.

So de­ci­sion-mak­ers need to be care­ful. And sup­port­ers need to be care­ful what they wish for.

PRES­SURE COOKER: Fans should be care­ful what they wish for in the case of Steve Clar­idge, left, while oth­ers like Gary Ow­ers, Liam McDon­ald and Jerry Gill have been on the move this week FOL­LOW IAN ON TWIT­TER @IANRIDLEY1



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