It is always a pleasure to engage in football conversation with Billy Fox and it will again be so tomorrow evening at Parkgate FC. In 2009 Billy took the reins here and he put two sets of players together from the existing Staveley MWFC squad and Thackley FC that he moulded with some new faces in to a superb technical successful footballing team. Winning the old Wilkinson Sword Trophy, the NCEL Div 1 Title and the year after getting us to the semi-finals of the FA Vase was an experience that we will all never forget. When we hit the financial buffers in January 2013 Billy left after 3.5 years of what was a terrific time for the style of football and achievements but also in tandem was the building and redeveloping of the club structure and off the field facilities going from 2 teams in 2007 through to 16 teams in 2011. The latter provided a base and stability that was tested in early 2013 but which has come through that daunting period with more strength and robustness where some clubs fail to do so. In the last near 3-years Brett has contributed massively to the stability of our football club and our NCEL Premiership finishes since Billy achieved his 5th from top finish in 2011/12 has been 13th 17th 9th 8th 6th so between them Billy and Brett have delivered our best ever top 3 NCEL Premiership finishes.
It was in 2011/12 where we ended up chasing Retford Utd hoping to get near the NCEL Premiership title as the FA Vase Glory trail took over ending in shattered dreams and seeing our season fall away. It was then that we got to know Brett Marshall the then manager of Retford Utd who went on to win the NCEL Premiership Title and doing so with zero monies, perhaps a fete never done before or ever to be done again. Brett is working with a budget here that we know is bottom half but where he is happy to work with such sums and for Billy as his articles have portrayed, is working with possibly a bottom range budget so it is very difficult for him to attract players especially given the massive hike in the NCEL Premiership finances over recent years. It is currently looking like a real dog fight for Parkgate to survive but with football it should never be tempted and we are sure Billy will be using all of his experience and guile to lead Parkgate out of the bottom 2 or 3 and we hope he can do so but we hope he isn’t too jolly come the final whistle tomorrow.
There are some very close resemblances between Billy and Brett with a knowledge of football but moreover the understanding of players and management skills. Both managers committed their loyalty at different times to the club and had it not been for the events of 2013 and other circumstances then Billy would still be our manager here. Brett has since his appointment in early/mid 2015, committed to our 5-year plan and so has the club to Brett and approaching the end of year 3, we expect that two-way commitment to be honoured. Even if we were relegated Brett’s job would not be questioned here for this season it has been such a testing time. The retirement of some great players last season along with family pulls and geographical/job moves we lost half a dozen players and this season we have lost around the same again but Brett has not waivered from his beliefs of loyalty and principles he expects and gives. Some people do not think like he does nor how Billy does and they often attract criticism for what we can best describe as their “brutal honesty” and players will fall short of their principles and part company.
All too often the term “great manager” is used in the tap rooms of pubs but this football management malarkey is about longevity, about learning your trade and putting the tried and tested experience in to plan. For us far too many managers at non-league see clubs as stepping stones trying only to use the clubs for their own means. Luckily, in Billy and Brett both worked tirelessly and put the club first and we believe we have had 2 great managers here in the past with such characters. We do wish Billy all the best for his future wherever and whenever that may be. We would certainly recommend him to any club in the NCEL for given the right set of circumstances in timing and support, he will provide an entertaining style of football with results to back the latter up.
Lets hope it’s a great game and we can come out on top but we ain’t tempting it …. !!!
Chairman Terry Damms