Toolstation Western League
Published 10th June 2011
.....over the managerial reins at Toolstation Western League Premier Division champions Larkhall Athletic.
The veteran centre back was told the vacant Larkhall job, which was filled last week by his ex-Chippenham Town team-mate Lee Collier, was his after meeting with chairman Jim McLay but believes a bright future – and possibly Zamaretto League football – is just around the corner at Combe Hay Lane. Burns led the Downers to promotion from Division One in his first season in charge and they finished eighth at the higher grade last term, reaching the Les Phillips Cup semi-finals in the process.
Larkhall, the club Burns skippered when they lifted the Division One title in 2008/09, came calling after Neil Kirkpatrick stood down at the end of the campaign, making a formal approach to Downers chairman Dave Loxton at last month's league convention in Torquay.
"I really admire the people behind the scenes at Larkhall and it was a real honour to be asked," said Burns.
"But a couple of factors stopped me from taking the job. One was the fact that Neil did such a tremendous job and he would have been a difficult act to follow, as people always compare.
"Also, I couldn't leave after the work we've done at Odd Down. I didn't want it to go to waste."
To cap a successful season, the Downers' reserve side were also promoted to the Somerset County League Premier Division and Burns says there is no reason why a club that found itself in the doldrums as recently as four years ago cannot emulate the feats of their cross-city rivals next term.
"If we can keep our better players and add one or two of the ones I've been speaking to then we can be up there challenging," said Burns.
"We beat all of the top teams last season, apart from Bitton, and were only a couple more wins away from finishing third. I'm a perfectionist and would love to finish in the top two or three next season.
"The club is a bit of a goldmine, provided we keep working off the field to get the commercial things right."
Larkhall turned to home- grown Collier last week and Burns believes the much- travelled midfielder has the attributes to succeed in his first managerial post.
He said: "Lee is a Larkhall man, has contacts and has played at a higher level with some good clubs.
"I'd like to wish him all the best and I know he'll do a really good job for them."