Failure to keep best players ends in the sack for Daniels manager Wilson
What a mess. Stamford AFC have sacked manager Andrew Wilson after just 40 days in the job.
During that time the Daniels have played 10 games, winning just once, 1-0 away at Matlock Town on October 17, drawn twice and lost seven times.
That run of games includes two cup exits, both at the hands of lower league opposition, exiting the FA Cup in Wilson’s first game in charge away at Coleshill Town (2-0) and then the FA Trophy in his last game on Saturday, away at Carlton Town (2-1).
To be fair to Wilson, who previously managed Harborough Town, Histon and Corby Town, Stamford were in trouble when he came in.
When Wilson took the reins on September 24 the Daniels sat 21st in the league, five points above bottom club Ramsbottom United.
However they were scoring at better than three goals again. The problem is they were conceding even more. The club’s 7-1 lose to Hyde United as the last straw for former manager David Staff.
Barring the 5-1 lost to Rushall Olympic last week Wilson had managed to shore up the leaking defence, the only problem was the goals dried up as well, scoring just 10 goals in his 10 games.
The result is six weeks after coming in Stamford lie in 23rd still just five points above Ramsbottom.
That was not quite the reaction the Daniels board were hoping for when they parted company with Staff, who was Stamford through and through having played for the club and been assistant manager under Wayne Hatswell before getting promoted to the top job for the start of the 2013-14 season.
Club chairman Bob Feetham said: “The directors felt that, with results failing to make progress, we urgently needed to make a change. Four successive defeats, including the nature of that 2-1 Trophy loss at Carlton Town, started alarm bells ringing.
“This is far from a knee jerk re-action. NPL survival is of paramount importance and we will now seek someone to quickly scour the market and bring in quality signings who can make a real difference at this level.”
Worse than the results, Wilson’s legacy will be remembered as tearing apart a team that were struggling, but looked to have the ability to get themselves out of the trouble they were in, just as they did in 2014/15, beating Witton Albion 3-2 on the last day of the season to stay in the Northern Premier League.
Instead of galvanising a response from his new troops within a matter of days his players deserting in droves.
First Greg Smith, who had been Stamford’s most dangerous striker at the start of the season, left for Grantham Town.
Then the club’s two best players started showing signs of discontent and itchy feet.
Ryan Robbins, who has been the leading goalscorer at the Daniels ever since he joined, and was called up to play international football for St Kitts and Nevis last season, left the club on October 1 and signed for higher league Boston United the next day.
He then scored on his debut on October 3 in a 3-1 win against Nuneaton Town in the Vanarama National League North.
Robbins has played in every game since for The Pilgrims, scoring one more goal as they have gone through October unbeaten.
Worse was still to come. Fan favourite and club captain Richard Jones was benched for two games in a row, eventually thrown on as a striker for the final moments against Ilkeston on October 13.
Used to being the core the team is built around rather than a bit part player, Jones had had enough. By Friday that week, after saying it became clear he did not have a long term future at the club, he too had made the step up and joined Boston, making his debut the next day (October 17) as The Pilgrims beat Alfreton Town 2-1 where the winning goal was scored by Robbins.
Sadly Jones injured his knee late in the game and has not played since.
The fact both players walked straight into a higher league side speaks of their quality.
Both men have faults in their games as most are at the Evo-Stik NPL level; Jones, because of his towering size, was slow to turn when someone got behind him, but won the club dozens of matches with his last man defence, as the multiple man of the match awards suggest.
Robbins, as all good strikers are, is greedy and can drift in and out of games but he could also conjure unbelievable moments of magic which could, and many times did, win games.
Robbins was a goal machine for Stamford. During his time at the club he scored 49 Evo-Stik Northern Premier League goals, scoring 22 in his first season, 21 the following year and six before leaving for Boston.
In total he played 103 times for Stamford, scoring plenty of goals in the cup competitions as well.
Both Robbins and Jones won back-to-back Lincolnshire Senior Trophies with Stamford and picked up gongs at the club’s end of season awards last year, the striker winning Players’ Player of the Year and the defender Supporters’ Player of the Year.
The fact is the Daniels are weaker for not having either man on the pitch in their red shirt.
The loss of both players was a spectacular failure of man management. They needed to feel valued and not made to fight for their places.
With the revolving door of players coming in and out of the club speeding up the fans were beginning to grumble louder and louder, and come through the gate in fewer numbers.
It was not just a pair of club centurions who left, two of Stamford’s best summer signings were gone within weeks as well.
David Bell and Andy Hall also jumped ship, joining Spalding United and AFC Rushden and Diamonds respectively.
Both men added attacking threats to Stamford’s midfield and it comes as no coincidence that since the two creative midfielder have departed that goals have been hard to come by.
They were generally not the men scoring them but they were getting a lot of the assists.
Wilson at first turned to old faces to fill the void, bringing back midfielder Tom McGowen and Nabil Shariff.
Then the new signings started to arrive, defender Roger Lee and strikers Aaron Hassall and Andrew Phillips. They had not had enough time to prove themselves for Stamford, but the new manager, whoever they will be, will have to gel the players he has got left quickly and in an atmosphere of must win football.
The only good news is Stamford are only four points away from escaping the four team relegation zone, with Colwyn Bay on 16 points, compared to the Daniels 12, having played three games fewer than their Welsh rivals.
Unfortunately third place Nantwich are the visitors to the Zeeco Stadium on Saturday, where Stamford have still not won in the league this season.
Turning the club’s home form around is going to priority number one for the new manager.