Wheeler ready for Stones chal­lenge af­ter ‘Ricay un­rest

The Non-League Football Paper - - NEWS - By David Richard­son

HARRY Wheeler re­grets not be­ing able to stay at Bil­ler­icay Town for the long term – but says it’s now on­wards and up­wards af­ter be­ing ap­pointed as Maid­stone United’s new man­ager.

His fu­ture at Bil­ler­icay was in the bal­ance af­ter con­tro­ver­sial owner Glenn Tamplin re­port­edly sacked Wheeler by text ahead of their game at Chip­pen­ham on Au­gust 25, which ended in a 2-0 de­feat.

It was the 30-year-old’s first de­feat in 29 games hav­ing led the club to new heights last sea­son win­ning the Bostik South, League Cup and Es­sex Se­nior Cup, and looked set for pro­mo­tion again af­ter top­ping the early sea­son National League South ta­ble.

But Tamplin shared dif­fer­ent vi­sions to that of his man­ager and although Wheeler was re­luc­tant to go into de­tail about how it all ended, he was sad he couldn’t carry on the Bil­ler­icay jour­ney.

“I never wanted it to hap­pen, I like to be in places for the longevity,” Wheeler, who joined the club in Fe­bru­ary last year, told The NLP. “We all wanted to push on and see if we could do it again, we fully be­lieved we could.

“It didn’t hap­pen, that’s foot­ball, we move on, you take it on the chin and I’ve been lucky enough to go to a very good club where we can try and em­u­late it.

“Bil­ler­icay is ac­tu­ally a very well run club in terms of the staff, the me­dia team, the play­ers’ at­ti­tude is ex­cel­lent. You have to give Glenn credit for the fa­cil­i­ties. He said he wanted to im­prove the ground. There’s def­i­nitely a lot of pos­i­tives.”

Tamplin has ad­mit­ted sack­ing Wheeler was a mis­take and even tried to get him back to the club – an of­fer which did tempt him. “From my heart it was a pos­si­bil­ity at times for the lads and the sup­port­ers, who are fan­tas­tic and al­ways sup­ported me – even when I wasn’t there, they were singing my name,” Wheeler added. “In the end I wanted to push fur­ther on to a club like Maid­stone.


“It was an in­valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence. Prob­a­bly an ex­pe­ri­ence you don’t get un­less you’re at the top level with the real pres­sures. It made me a lot tougher, a lot stronger, a lot more for­ward-think­ing and more pro­fes­sional be­cause when things aren’t great you have to keep your stan­dards even higher and give the play­ers ev­ery­thing you’ve got. “It’s a to­tally dif­fer­ent kind of pres­sure, you’re ex­pected to win, ev­ery­one wants to beat you, no one is a fan of yours, ev­ery­one comes there for their cup fi­nal, you’ve got big ex­pec­ta­tions on your hands. “That, and some of the in­side pres­sures, and the in­side dis­agree­ments at the club. We had to man­age the play­ers re­ally well and try and get the best out of peo­ple. “I learnt mas­sive amounts, more than you could prob­a­bly learn at a dif­fer­ent club in three or four years.” Now Wheeler is mov­ing on to one of the most well-run clubs in Non-League and step­ping up a divi­sion.

Own­ers Oliver Ash and Terry Casey and chief ex­ec­u­tive Bill Wil­liams made the tough­est de­ci­sion they’ve had to make in years with the club in part­ing com­pany with Stones leg­end Jay Saun­ders, who won three pro­mo­tions in four years to take them into the National League.

They de­serve credit for giv­ing Wheeler – a young and up­com­ing man­ager, although one with 11 years of ex­pe­ri­ence – the chance to build on the foun­da­tions Saun­ders, in­set left, laid.

“We’re not here to re­place Jay Saun­ders be­cause he is ir­re­place­able,” said the for­mer St Al­bans boss, who has been joined at the Gal­lagher Sta­dium by Tris­tian and Craig Lewis from Bil­ler­icay. “He was bril­liant in ev­ery­thing he did and we’re here to give it a new light now and push on. “He is for­ever go­ing to be a leg­end here. He’s a good per­son. Ev­ery club has this, ev­ery club has their change, Bil­ler­icay didn’t ex­pect change that quick but it hap­pens. All you can do is sup­port the new regime and go with the next one. “I’m ex­cited for the chal­lenge and look­ing for­ward to work­ing at such a big, pro­fes­sional club, try­ing to turn it around and get up the league.” Wheeler took charge of three train­ing ses­sions be­fore yes­ter­day’s visit from lead­ers Har­ro­gate Town and is pre­pared to give the cur­rent crop of play­ers a chance af­ter amass­ing seven points from their first ten games. “The at­ti­tude is good, they’re will­ing to work and they want to do well,” he added. “It’s a re­ally well run club, good struc­ture and good peo­ple. They get good crowds, we have to try and lift it even more.”

WHEEL DEAL: Harry Wheeler is ready to take hos Maid­stone chance

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