GLOSSOP North End’s directors are to meet at 2 o’clock this afternoon (Saturday) to discuss their options following the resignation of manager Chris Willcock after four years in charge.
The board, who have already received four applications, will decide on the criteria for the new boss and whether they should advertise the post.
Club chairman Dave Atkinson said: “We’ve been contacted by two experienced managers at this level or above, and two players who are getting to the end of their footballing careers. Both of them have played for us in the past and now want to cut their teeth in management.
“The last time we needed a manager, in 2013, we had 24 applications of which only three ticked all the boxes we had at that time. Four years ago we were clear we wanted to reach Step 4. This afternoon we’ll have to decide what our present criteria are.”
Willcock’s departure is not entirely unexpected. After three years of success including promotion, cup finals, play-offs and an appearance at Wembley in the FA Vase, the Hillmen have stuttered just a little this season and at time Willcock appeared discontented.
Fans were unhappy after some poor results before Christmas, and some recent bad defeats have led to Glossop finishing just outside the play-off places when they were looking certs for the top five only a couple of weeks ago.
Willcock has issued a statement on the official Glossop North End website but in December, when the team beat Kendal 3-1 after losing to North West Counties League side West Didsbury in the Manchester Premier Cup, he seemed irked by the criticism.
He commented: “If you look at the clubs out there, not many have had a good time like we’ve had over the last four years. The success has been unlimited and some people need to think back to how things were prior to my arrival.”
Atkinson praised the former boss for his hard work and dedication, pointing out that during the run to the FA Vase final, Willcock finished one game, drove all the way to St Austell in Cornwall for a match that was abandoned, and immediately came back so he could manage the Hillmen in a Thursday game.
He added: “Chris’s dedication could be frightening. I have to admit I’m disappointed and upset for him that it didn’t work out in terms of the play-offs. I think he got a little frustrated with certain things at the club and certain players.
“Chris told me a few days ago that he was considering his job, so it wasn’t a surprise yesterday when he told me he was resigning. But he’s done so right at the end of the season which means that the new manager will have time to assemble a squad.
“At the end of the day Che has made his decision and goes with our good wishes. What Chris did for us was fantastic and I wish him luck with whatever he goes on to do.”
THE relegation battle might have been lost, but Bower Fold chairman Rob Gorski refuses to surrender. He wants Stalybridge Celtic back in National League North in 12 months’ time and the directors are prepared to put their money where their mouth is.
Asked about his intentions as the club comes to terms with the fact it will be playing NPL football for the first time since the National League expanded in 2004, he replied: “The goal is crystal-clear — promotion.
“It’s very easy to get caught in a vicious circle of doom and gloom. There are many clubs that have not been able to stop the rot. Our goal is not just to stop the rot, but to rebuild and start a new virtuous spiral.
“We want to put together a squad that will succeed. Our manager, Steve Burr, is also of the view that he wants to do it the right way. He still wants to play it on the deck and entertain the fans with free-flowing football.
“So the board has unanimously agreed to give him the same budget as this season to achieve that objective.
“We will, of course, be significantly worse off financially after our relegation, but such is the desire to return at the first attempt that we don’t want to get in to the vicious spiral of cutting the budget, getting poorer players, losing matches, getting lower gates, so cutting the budget and so on.
“I’ve spoken to Steve and he’s already on the case for bringing in new faces and he’s absolutely determined to hit the ground running next August. His drive and passion are clear to see and no one should be in any doubt that his goal is instant promotion.
“Having said that, it won’t be easy. Without sounding condescending, some teams will raise their game against Altrincham and ourselves, and there will be several out there with big budgets.
“The hard work has already started and although I don’t want another season of revolving doors, there will be new faces arriving before next season. The challenge is to get that right blend of youth and experience and to have a positive team environment where everyone buys in to the goal of winning games and getting promoted.
“It’s truly been a horrible year, on all fronts, but I am desperate to give the loyal fans what they want — and deserve — and that is a successful, hard-working team that puts a smile back on the collective face of Stalybridge Celtic.”
Gorski also revealed that there is little to report on the other major issue affecting the club — the question of whether they leave Bower Fold to move to a new ground close to the town centre on land owned by the Greater Manchester Pension Fund.
Discussions are ongoing with Tameside Council but there are still major questions about the viability of the project, let alone a deal that would satisfy both parties.
“I can promise people this — as soon as I hear absolutely anything at all concrete from Tameside Council, the fans will be the first to know,” said the Celtic chairman.
“My understanding is that there was a meeting with the Health and Safety Executive this week and once I get feedback, I will disseminate it that very same day. The fans are the club and they will hear — good or bad news — as soon as I get told.
“Talking of the fans, if we are to succeed next season, it’s really vital that we all stay together and get behind the club. We need to increase attendances and unite as one in our goal to bounce straight back to the Conference North.”
Gorski also revealed why he has not been to as many games as usual at Bower Fold. He explained: “The past 12 months have been some of the saddest of my life.
“I’ve been rocked by several significant family issues, and that meant I wasn’t able to be there to support Steve as much as I’d have liked.
“And, of course, we were relegated. But as much as I want to sit here and cry and feel sorry for myself, I can’t do that.”
THERE’S little to play for as the Tameside and Glossop football season comes to a close tomorrow (Saturday) with the final round of National League North matches.
CURZON ASHTON could move up one place, from 14th to 13th, but for that they would need FC United to lose at home to Gainsborough Trinity while they beat Boston United at the Tameside Stadium.
Manager John Flanagan has everyone at his disposal except for long-term injuries Iain Howard and Matt Flynn.
Pride is the only thing on offer to STALYBRIDGE CELTIC as they ponder their first season in the Northern Premier League since National League North was founded 13 years ago.
Bridge have several absentees as they prepare to travel to Brackley. Missing will be Matty Hughes (suspended), Darren McKnight (knee), Danny Wisdom (hamstring), Danny Pilkington (knee) and Keano Deacon (foot).
NOTHING less than three points will do for GLOSSOP NORTH END tomorrow (Saturday), and even then it might not be enough.
The Hillmen, who face Lancaster City at Surrey Street, know that even if they win, they need things to go right in the games involving Colne, Scarborough and Trafford so that they can squeak into the bottom two play-off places.
That would be difficult at the best of times but Lancaster are top of the Evo-stik NPL first division north and want to wrap up the title. At least three coachloads of fans will be heading for Derbyshire tomorrow, all hoping to see the championship trophy presented at 4.45pm.
Glossop boss Chris Willcock knows only too well what’s at stake. “Both clubs need to win. It’s a winner-takes-all encounter,” he said.
“Once again we’ve managed to keep the season interesting right to the end with something still to play for in the last game. There’s a lot to be excited about and I’m sure everybody is looking forward to the match. Hopefully, there’ll be a sizeable crowd and a good atmosphere.”
The Hillmen have been around the play-off places all season, scoring some notable victories. But at the same time they have lost to the clubs clustered at the foot of the table. Within the last fortnight they have been beaten 7-2 by Prescot and lost 2-1 at Mossley on Monday.
Willcock said: “It’s been a strange season. There hasn’t been much between the clubs and on any given day any result was possible.
“Lancaster did well for three-quarters of the campaign and then Farsley chased them down and caught them up. Over the last ten matches both have been inconsistent and dropped points which has brought the title down to the last game of the season.”
North End have doubts over Matt Cooper, Rochdale loanee Jonny Diba, and Paul Dugdale who came off on Monday with a tight hamstring. All three will have fitness tests in the morning.
Ben Richardson is available despite being sent off against Mossley. However, he would miss the play-off semi-finals if Glossop get through.
In National League North, STALYBRIDGE CELTIC will have to take on Tamworth at Bower Fold without inspirational skipper Matty Hughes. He is suspended for all three games in the crucial last week of the season following his straight red card in last Saturday’s defeat at Gloucester.
Midfielder Danny Pilkington will also miss the rest of the campaign with the knee injury he suffered in that game.
Celtic’s fate is no longer in their own hands. If Gainsborough beat either Kidderminster tomorrow or FC United next Saturday, and Worcester beat either Salford tomorrow or Fylde next Saturday, then not even three straight wins against Tamworth, Harrogate and Brackley will be enough to stave off relegation for Steve Burr and his men.
What is certain though, is that if the Bridge lose tomorrow they will be relegated due to their vastly inferior goal difference. Defeat is not an option.
Alex Brown and Niall Cummins both have hip injuries and are doubtful for CURZON ASHTON who are away to Halifax Town.
Ryan Hall is 50/50 with a hamstring strain, and Jordan Wright and Tyrell McKenzie both picked up knocks at Salford and will need fitness tests before the game.
In the Evo-stik NPL premier division, ASHTON UNITED fans will have the chance to bid goodbye to retiring co-boss Will Haining as the Robins face relegated Ilkeston.
“I’m sure Will will get a big send-off from the team, the board and the fans but it would be nice to say goodbye with a win,” said manager Jody Banim.
“Although Ilkeston are down no one’s battered them. No one’s taken them to the cleaners. But I’d like to think we should be winning at home against anyone.”
Ryan Crowther is unavailable for the match which means changes up front. Banim might have to come on from the subs’ bench.
MOSSLEY sign off at Tadcaster. Mitchell Bryant is suspended and Danny McLaughlin misses out with an injured back. Mo Ali and Rob Flynn are rated 50/50.
DROYLSDEN could do Glossop a favour by winning at Colne — something that is not beyond them even though they lost at Hyde on Monday. Within the last month they have been Lancaster and Ossett Town and drawn with Farsley.
The Bloods have a full squad available but assistant manager Aeon Lattie says thoughts will be with Phil Clarke who suffered a serious leg-break at Brighouse in December.
Manager Darren Kelly has no injuries or suspensions to worry about as HYDE UNITED finish the season at Goole. Earlier this week, popular team captain Paddy Miller agreed to stay with the Tigers next season.
AFTER 19 years, football is finally taking second-place in Will Haining’s life. Now 35, and the father of children aged nine, six and one, he’s decided it’s time his family came first.
If he were to stay on as joint-manager at Hurst Cross, that would mean Ashton United ranking third on his list of priorities. That’s something he believes would be unfair to a club that has been very good to him.
“I’ve missed out on too many Christmases and bank holidays. I’ve had to go out on Christmas mornings when the kids were opening their presents, or they’d have to save some to open when I got back,” Haining explained.
“If I was still in full-time football I might be prepared to carry on doing that, but as my life stands now the family come first, and then it’s my job. That means football is third which wouldn’t be fair to Ashton United and they don’t deserve that.
“Ashton are a great club with great fans and great people. I would never want to cheat them.”
Fatherhood has given former Oldham Athletic defender Haining a new perspective in life. Like lots of parents, he’s well aware of how quickly his children will grow up and of how much could be lost to him.
He added: “My kids come first and always will do. Sometimes with work and training and games I might see them on a Monday and then not again until Wednesday. I realise I’m not getting to spend as much time with them as I should.
“If they had been a bit older I might have got away with it, but I’ve been missing out on too many things. It’s time to take a step back and spend what spare time I’ve got with my family.”
Haining strongly refutes any suggestion that his desire to be with his wife and children is just an excuse like the oft-cited business commitments, to mask behind-the-scenes disagreements.
“My family are the only reason I’m leaving Ashton United. There’s been no fall-out with the players, with Jody Banim or the board, and I’m not looking at anything else. It’s just personal issues,” he said.
“I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever go back into management, but what I will say is that I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Ashton United as a player and as a manager.”
IF the June 8 general election was the biggest surprise today, the announcement of Will Haining’s decision to quit as co-manager of Ashton United had to come second, at least in Tameside.
The former Oldham Athletic defender informed partner Jody Banim and senior club officials two weeks ago but gave no hint of his impending departure to anyone else. In his Pav’s Patch interview after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Blyth Spartans he talked about planning for the 2016-17 season.
Haining’s resignation was revealed to the players after yesterday (Monday’s) game at Warrington and made public this afternoon in a statement on the Robins’ website. Club chairman Terry Hollis commented: “Will has been absolutely outstanding during his short time as joint-manager, and indeed while playing for the club. He has been an absolute pleasure to work with.
“We are extremely sorry to see him leave us but he goes with the very best wishes of everyone connected to Ashton United. His hard work has given us the platform to kick-on for the new season.”
Mr Hollis’s sentiments were echoed by Jody Banim, who now takes sole control of playing matters as team manager.
“When Will told me his plans I was as surprised as anybody as we had been talking about next season and the need to sign players,” said the new boss.
“I’m disappointed that he won’t be there to continue what we started, but I really respect his decision and I’ve got nothing but praise for what he’s done. He has a young family and I can understand that he wants to spend more time with them.
“It was Will brought me on board after Paul Phillips and Steve Halford stood down to take over at Stalybridge Celtic and I’ve loved every minute of working with him, even though we’ve had some tough spells where we lost games and had to change things around. But I think that since the start of the year we’ve turned a little corner.”
The task of restoring the Robins to the ranks of Evo-stik NPL premier division promotion contenders now falls squarely on the 39-year-old Banim’s shoulders. Even though he will no longer have Haining at his side for support and advice, it’s a challenge he relishes.
He explained: “I’m excited to have the job on my own. I’m excited to have sole responsibility for the team.
“A lot of pre-season work, like sorting out friendlies, is already under way and I’ve been speaking to players, too. So long as we can keep the nucleus of the current squad and add four or five new players I think we’ve got a real chance of doing something special next year.”
The new Hurst Cross number-two will be defender Simon Woodford who joined the Robins earlier this year after being released by Curzon Ashton. Banim believes he has all the qualities to be an ideal assistant.
He said: “To be honest, we don’t have the biggest budget in the league but although Simon is coming to the end of his career, he can still play centre-back or right-back when necessary, which means a little bit more money will be left that we can spend on a starting player.
“I’ve not known Simon too long but he’s done really well since he joined us. He’s quite a voice in the dressing room and people respect him. I think he’ll make a great assistant because he’s an experienced lad who’ll be able to fulfil that vital role as a go-between between the team and me, the manager.”
Attempts were made to contact Will Haining but he wasn’t answering his phone this evening.