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Reaction from Stamford AFC chairman David Whitby after manager Graham Drury signs a new two-year contract

Chairman David Whitby is hoping extending manager Graham Drury's contract at the Zeeco Stadium will bring certainty to the club despite uncertain times elsewhere.

The Stamford boss has signed a two-year contract extension that will keep him at the Northern Premier League South East Division club until the end of the 2022/23 campaign.

Drury has already spent 10 successful seasons with the Daniels over three spells and has high hopes of taking the club back into the Northern Premier Division.

Chairman David Whitby. Photo: Dan Allen (44352284)
Chairman David Whitby. Photo: Dan Allen (44352284)

However, the coronavirus pandemic scuppered Stamford's promotion bid last season while the current campaign remains suspended until early next month with the Daniels again well-placed for a title tilt.

But chairman Whitby feels securing a new deal for his manager can help the club plan ahead while keeping interest in Drury and a number of his players at bay.

Whitby said: "Graham has been excited by the squad he has assembled over the last two seasons and the brand of football which has been produced.

"We have really started something exciting at the club and Graham wants to be there to see it through.

"He was attracting attention from other clubs that I was aware of and the other thing is that we are in a bit of a vacuum situation at the moment where clubs and players might be re-thinking what they are doing.

"It's a time where other clubs could certainly be looking at our players. We want to keep this squad together and, if they know that Graham is staying for the next couple of seasons, then hopefully they will as well.

"We understand that players want to take their careers to the highest level possible and we knew that when we signed them a couple of seasons ago.

"But we also want to get to that next level and the one after that and we want them to come with us.

"The journey has been held up at the moment because of the Covid-19 situation, but hopefully we can all stay together and gain this promotion which we are desperate for to move the club forward."

Manager Graham Drury with coach Luke Hipwell and physio Natalie Halliday. Photo: Dan Allen (44352286)
Manager Graham Drury with coach Luke Hipwell and physio Natalie Halliday. Photo: Dan Allen (44352286)

Whitby also paid tribute to his fellow directors and Drury's management team for their role in continuing to help the club progress.

He added: "We bought in three new directors in the summer - Geoff Green, Dan Thorpe and Chris Britton - who are local businessman who have come on to the board.

"They have really helped drive the club forward, on and off the pitch. I want to pay tribute to the existing board but having three new businessmen join us has really helped move things along.

"They have brought fresh ideas and new avenues to go at with sponsorship, etc. It's really working well.

"Graham has also assembled a great team around him in Luke Hipwell, Michael Hogg and Natalie Halliday.

"With everything that he has got there, he is really excited to push the club on and it is only the pandemic which has held us back.

"Graham has the knowledge and contacts to allow us to look towards the next levels and take us there.

"He is really excited to have this contract extension and we're ready to go as soon as we can start again."

Daniels boss Drury was also full of praise for the club which he first joined in 2004 from United Counties League side Harrowby United.

Drury said: "We are all one big Stamford family, all connecting together and believing in hard work. I can't thank everyone enough.

"I couldn't do this job without my brilliant staff and I can't thank the players enough for being such a top group of people with a work ethic which matches mine.

"I have received tremendous support from the chairman and the board and, with the ambitions of the club, I had to stay.

"The work which is going on behind the scenes matches what I want to achieve. The fan base is growing and the hard work and dedication from the volunteers at the club is unbelievable."

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