The Evo-Stik League Northern Premier
Published 25th April 2012
......Premier League First Division South on his appointment in November, manager Kevin Gee is now eager to get on with what promises to be a busy close season.
The club were at a low ebb when Gee was appointed, and before they had kicked a ball under his guard they dropped to the bottom of the division as a result of results elsewhere. But he turned the club round to the extent that they were safe from relegation by the end of March and although ending up in nineteenth place, they were fourteen points clear of the drop zone.
Now Gee is looking forward to the chance to build his own side in readiness for the next campaign, as well as bringing in a new assistant manager following the resignation for business and personal reasons of Lee Wilkinson.
Said Gee: “I know it has been quoted on a few occasions the number of players that have signed for the club this year, but I must thank all the players as each one of them has played a part in ensuring we retain our membership.
“When you come into a club in mid-season you have to be realistic in that some players will leave immediately, others may take time to bring in , as well as getting to know the remaining squad members both personally and technically, but one thing you do not have mid-season is the time to try to get yourself in a position to ensure your own survival.
“So at times we worked on a week to week basis, but the players’ responses have been terrific. They have achieved a points tally more akin to mid-table security, with a couple of exceptional performances punching above our lowly position mixed in there as well.
“I’m the first to admit it hasn’t always been pretty to watch, and I too have suffered in silence. However, the job I was brought in to do was to keep us in the division, which meant getting results by being organised working hard, and giving yourself a chance to pick up points when you don't deserve any - Market Drayton away springs to mind - and believing in the strategies and tactics put in place
“Carlton at home is another where an honest group of players delivered a perfect performance.
“I must also mention our supporters who have been terrific this year as they have supported the players through it all. Yes, I`m sure there have been the occasional moans and groans on some performances, but the genuine fans appreciate that every season will bring with it its ups and downs.
“They will also recognise that, in terms of what we have set out to do, the season has been a huge success as we have improved, in small steps, as a club in our second season in the league by achieving more points and a higher league position.
“Now there is a lot of work to be done during the summer. We have been competitive enough to secure our place, but now we need to freshen the place up and give ourselves a new impetus, so it will be a totally different pre-season and it will be hard.
“We know our playing budget cannot match that of a lot of the other clubs and we may well be punching above our weight, so the ‘A-listers’ within our league are out of our range which we accept.
“But there are still more than enough quality players out there to add to our existing squad, as it’s a work in progress rather than a complete overhaul of the current team in preparation for the new season.
“Most of the existing squad have expressed a desire to stay at the club, but I’m a realist in that summer is always a feeding frenzy for players, and although I have good relationships with most managers within the division, all barriers are dropped until final squads are assembled for a new season. And then we bring in the informal code of conduct that you don't approach players of certain clubs and they the same, which is indicative of the mutual respect you need in local football. We therefore have to attract the right type of player to the club, that accepts our wage structure, wants to be part of a progressive club, can fulfill the criteria required of him, but most importantly is prepared to work.
“Nobody stops a player working, whether you have the biggest or the smallest budget in the division as the fitness levels of all players at this level should be the same irrespective of any financial gains.
“We have good people behind the scenes who have done their part in ensuring that we can enjoy another season at this level. It’s a fantastic division for a club like ours to be in – I’ve been in the division myself for four or five years and this has been the hardest season in terms of the overall standard.
“With the benefit of a good pre-season to prepare us, the football we play next season will be more my style, and hopefully will be more pleasing to the eye than this season has necessarily been, as we look to continue to cement ourselves as a respected Northern Premier League team and go on moving up the table.”