SHELL-SHOCKED Daniels boss Tommy Brookbanks apologised to fans after his side’s hopes of reaching the promotion play-offs were left hanging by a thread at Sheffield on Tuesday evening.
Speaking on Wednesday, Brookbanks pledged to make the Daniels a stronger outfit next season. Although mathematically possible to secure a top-five spot in the Evo-Stik League First Division South, Stamford, who face leaders Grantham on Easter Monday, must turn their form around and rely on results elsewhere.
Brookbanks said: “I take responsibility for such a big game. I have apologised to the board and want to send my apologies to the fans.
“It’s the first time in my 16 years as a manager that I have been beaten like that and nobody is hurting more than me.
“We had a bare 14 last night with several carrying knocks and I took a gamble with players.
“We have had to cope with injuries which little by little have taken their toll in terms of players playing out of position or when they’re not fully fit. The wheels came off last night.
“We were missing key players but to be fair to Sheffield they played as well as I have seen all season.”
When the inquest into what is likely to turn out to be a failure to reach the play-offs begins, Brookbanks is keen to introduce a reserve side to support the transition from Stamford’s excellent youth academy to the first team.
He added: “We genuinely believed we could get into the play-offs but then the teams that get there use 20 players while we have been bringing in players all season and used 40-odd.”
The Daniels have five league games remaining this season, beginning with the visit of Market Drayton to the Premier Kitchens Arena tomorrow when Brookbanks expects to field former Stamford hero Tyrone Kirk, who rejoined the club this week.
Brookbanks said: “It’s important to bounce back quickly. We have to forget the league position, play for pride and see where we are at the end of the season.
“Judge me on next season. This is a one-off and the future is bright at Stamford.
“There will a super side here next season.
“Stamford have risen this season from near the bottom and that’s down to the previous manager, the board and the people here now. Now we need to do ourselves justice in our last five games.”
On the return of Kirk, he added: “He’s a fans’ favourite and he used to do real damage to my Carlton teams when he played here before.”
Kirk, who most recently was playing at Boston United, issued a statement through the Daniels saying: “I was going to wait for pre-season but Tommy rang me and asked me to join Stamford, not just for the last few games but to sign for next season.
“They say home is where the heart is and Stamford is my home. I loved the fans to death and they are the only team other then Rhyl who let me play my game and express myself as a out and out winger.
“I look forward to coming home an I’ll do my upmost not to let the club, who have done so much for me over the years, down.”
Kick off tomorrow is at 3pm.