Before I start let me tell you that I like Bob Dorrian. He may have made mistakes but two things are very clear to me. He loves the club, and he is not responsible for the mess he inherited. I believe the club was in a state as early as 2006 and by the time Uncle Bob came to have the reigns we were already twirling around the pan waiting to be flushed out of the football league. Bob merely oversaw the result of the previous regimes mishandling of the club.
However Bob is different to most chairman. He likes to talk and quite often he finds himself saying things that maybe football chairmen shouldn’t be saying. I remember him talking about a potential transfer for Dany N’Guessan and mentioning how terms might be discussed over ‘a few pints’ whilst he was holidaying in Spain. I’m sure he’s always great fun to interview because you never quite know what he’s going to come out with next, something slanderous, insightful or all out ludhis evening Bob has once again surpassed himself with an interview in which he revealed everything he didn’t want to reveal by not actually saying it. His facial expressions did seem to (strongly) indicate that he was an admirer of Billy Heath, and that the North Ferriby boss had applied for the job. An out and out ‘no’ to Marcus Bignot was met with a much more subtle ‘it’d be unfair to comment’ when asked about Heath. To be fair he’s been mentioned from the very start of the process, and my previous blog explains that he might come laden with goodies.
I felt a little bit for David Preece tonight. I’ve applied for jobs before when in a builders merchant looking to move up the ladder only to have the manager I’ve applied to openly discuss who else might get it. I have had the ‘you’re not getting it but here’s a interview to keep you happy’ routine pulled on me and it seemed to be the case here. It sounds like they’re going to hear him out, but the real coup lies with grabbing someone from another team.
It may just have been me but I wasn’t convinced about the young coaches bit. I’m not at all convinced we will end up with someone who has no experience as a manager at all. There’s a good squad assembling and there’s a little bit of money to stabilise things off the field, so now I think Bob will want to bring someone in already performing well as a manager.
The keenness with which Bob spoke about Billy Heath does convince me that he is the number one candidate now. Whether North Ferriby come up or not is irrelevant really. The investors are pulling out because they’ve gone as far as they can, and on their crowds they won’t have a budget that will push them towards the top of the conference. If they come up they’ll be another Guiseley, picking up a few wins but not seriously troubling the top five. However Lincoln City will be challenging for the top five, or at least are expected to be. We are traditionally a football league team and any manager that takes us there will improve his stock no end. Billy Heath has achieved things at North Ferriby and Bridlington with a good budget, but will he want to risk tarnishing that reputation by staying at a team that probably won’t compete financially? When he didn’t have that money at Frickley his reign was uninspired. Should he maybe cash out now and take the chance of managing a bigger club with more potential?
For Bob to say cryptic things like ‘I’m not saying that it is the case we might have to wait for the play offs to finish’ and ‘it’d be unfair to say if Billy Heath has applied’ indicates to me that he has applied and we will wait until the play offs have finished out of respect for North Ferriby. Billy Heath fits with Clive Nates comments about investment the other day as well. What if the board had spoken to the North Ferriby investors before, maybe whilst looking for new investment? What if those investors spoke highly of their man Billy Heath?
For now though lets assume Billy is appointed but doesn’t come with Steve and Emam Forster in tow. Let’s assume he comes here as a manager with a point to prove. He does already know the city after all, he turned out for Lincoln United as a player. He may not have the playing pedigree that the likes of Chris Sutton had, but don’t forget Dave Bassett played non league his entire career and he wasn’t a bad manager was he?
Billy would almost certainly come with his assistant Mark Carroll which would mean another role for Grant. I expect a new manager to bring an assistant of his own choosing, and the pairing has worked very successfully over the last five years. North Ferriby may have had a bit of cash but they’ve won three cups, a league title and a runners up spot under the stewardship of Billy and Mark. It’s safe to say they’ve had success albeit in the leagues below us. However the FA Trophy is a competition we enter and they’ve won it, so it’s fair to say moving up a level wouldn’t be a massive shift.
I think my only real criticism of Billy is that he has had an up and down management career. Things weren’t great at Frickley for him, and his success at both North Ferriby and Bridlington could be attributed to the budgets on offer. I’m loathe to hold that against him though as winning on a good budget isn’t always easy, just ask Jose this season or any Darlington manager from the late 1990’s onwards. Money or no money you still have to win football games and for the last couple of seasons Billy Heath has shown he’s very good at that.
I still have this nagging feeling that there is another name that the speculation is missing that might show up on the scene fairly late in proceedings. Mind you with all of the internet speculation I’m not sure there’s that many people left who haven’t been linked with the job. I’m sure if Rob Makepeace just shouted names at Bob and waited ten seconds you’d be able to tell by his facial expression whether they were candidates. If you shouted loud enough he might start shouting his thoughts back and instead of dinosaur he might just shout ‘Steve Thompson’ because lets face it, it’s who he meant.