Loyalty is in the lower leagues

by Mystical Mike

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

10 years of enjoyment

Last week we saw the so-called professionals of the footballing world sack Tony Adams and Big Phil (I appreciate why he hates the nickname that can be now used in the headlines “not so Big Phil”) there has been a little celebration down Non League way.

Garry Wilson, boss at Eastbourne Borough, celebrates a decade in the job this weekend if, that is, the heavens conspire to hold the weather off. Wilson, along with his assistant Nick Greenwood and his coaching staff, is one of a rare breed who has stayed committed to one club and they, in turn, have remained true to his vision.

It was back in February 1999 that Eastbourne appointed their new man and since then they’ve gone from the Sussex County Championship Division One to the top flight of Non League football.

Over that time you’d imagine there have been wobbles of affection (which relationship doesn’t hit a little rocky patch?) although given Wilson’s assertion: “It’s not all about me, it’s been a great 10 years for the football club,” you do get the feeling this is a love affair without a kiss and tell.

Wilson gushes over “10 years of enjoyment” and the fans are equally gushing about their “knight in shining armour”. But the real test for me is that Wilson has remained in spite of promotions, enjoyment and obvious success.

Last season alone the world of Non League saw the likes of Lee Sinnott leave the fold for football league management only to return a few months later or, more recently, the much documented move of Nigel Clough. There’s no doubt that with better players in the grassroots game currently there is also a better wave of “Gaffers” ready for that step-up.

Managers at Non League level may also be better qualified and often more ambitious than their counterparts a couple of leagues higher. Over the past few months I’ve lost count of so-and-so-here and such-and-such-there who are taking their coaching badges whilst juggling a job outside of football and managing at the weekends.

Perhaps therefore it’s best if Eastbourne keep a little quieter about their Prodigal Son’s next ten years in power, rather than draw attention to the fact their own rough diamond may just about be ready for a polishing. Here’s hoping it’s with promotion for the Borough.

Non League Show

Caroline Barker presents The BBC Non League Football Show
Every Monday from 9pm via www.bbc.co.uk/nonleague
Real Football, real fans.
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