Several hours after receiving a phone call from Bower Fold chairman Rob Gorski, telling him his services were no longer needed, Phillips was still, in his own words, gutted. His friend and long-time partner Halford, devastated.
Phillips believes the Celtic directors have refused to acknowledge the enormity of the task he and Halford faced when they took over an already struggling side from Liam Watson.
He further asserts that the board are unable to comprehend that National League North has radically changed since Burr was previously in charge at Bower Fold eight years ago. Powerful clubs like Fylde, Salford City, Stockport County and Darlington have changed the landscape entirely.
But Phillips says what has hurt him and Halford most is a perceived lack of class on Burr’s part.
“Steve and me are good managers and I’m sure we’ll stay good managers going forward. We’ll come back and we’ll beat Steve Burr. Our objective now is to put him on the back foot, and we will,” said Phillips.
“Hopefully, we’ll come back with a club playing at the same level as Celtic. If not we’ll get our new club up to that same level.
“The two of us feel betrayed. Last September we moved into a club that had been down on its haunches for four or five years. During that time some big clubs had come into the division able to spend massive money. If you only finished fourth from bottom you knew the reason why. There are full-time clubs there with £15,000 wage bills.
“From the team we inherited, ten of the players are now in the Evo-stik or North West Counties League. That shows you want we faced. Steve and me put the club on an even footing and brought the wage bill down. We rebuilt the squad and brought in a sprinkling of quality.
“What you had at the start of the season was a team where a lot of players were on contracts and just picking up money. Well that’s not how Steve and I operate. We brought in lads who had heart — who wanted to play for Stalybridge Celtic.
“Just recently we’d gone four games unbeaten and then, on Saturday, against a Stockport side who are flying and spending lots of money, we lost to a dubious penalty. Results may not have gone as we wanted them to but I’m sure people could see the difference in the team.”
Although Phillips admits the decision to sack him and Halford didn’t come as a complete surprise, and he had begun to wonder if something might in the offing after Burr was seen at couple of Celtic matches, it was a huge disappointment to him.
He feels the directors should have informed him and Halford face-to-face and not left it to Rob Gorski to make telephone calls from his home in France. Phillips also says Steve Burr should have rung him, as he says he called the people he replaced at Ashton United and Bower Fold.
“Steve Burr’s shown no class throughout all this. Well, Steve and I will show him what class is,” Phillips added.
“We put our hearts and souls in to managing Stalybridge Celtic. Our wives and families had to take a back seat. We feel very let-down. But we’ll be back. Stalybridge Celtic can rest assured about that.”