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6th April 2020

New manager can drive us to even greater heights (Part 1)

New manager can drive us to even greater heights, Wickwar skipper Abbott enthuses

WICKWAR Wanderers skipper John Abbott is adamant everything is in place for another successful season – aside from a new manager to spearhead the project,” writes Simon Parkinson

The thriving South Gloucestershire village outfit capped a series of promotion triumphs in recent years by winding up second behind only a red-hot Chesterton team in the Stroud League Division Two standings before the coronavirus crisis forced early time to be called on the 2019-20 campaign.

Not content with that, Wickwar also reached the final of the GFA Intermediate North Cup, overcoming, of all sides, those chief rivals Chesterton 3-1 on their Siddington Field semis travels to secure a mouthwatering showdown with Stroud Three high-fliers Horsley United.

Whether that match, originally scheduled for last Wednesday, April 1 at Tuffley Rovers’ Glevum Park ground, eventually goes ahead with so much uncertainty surrounding football at large at this time remains to be seen.

Irrespective of those doubts, Wanderers are now casting the net for new management after George Whatley and Rob Banister announced they are to step down now the 2019-20 business has all but ended.

“Those two have done a fantastic job for the past three seasons but they want a break from it,” former boss Abbott explained.

“George and Rob – his dad Bob is a former chairman here – had grown up in the village and with the club as juniors and they came in as joint managers when we were experiencing something of a dip.

“I’m also from the village and played for Wickwar and Yate Town’s youth set-up as a youngster before going on to play senior football with Wickwar and, for a spell, Kingswood just up the road.

“The year before I took on the manager’s job here in 2014 the first team had folded leaving us with just the one reserve side.

“I knew their manager was stepping down at the end of that season so I took it on and enjoyed a great first couple of years, winning two promotions, the second as Division Five champions, and reaching a county cup final in my first year in charge.

“My third season running them was more difficult and although we ended up mid-table, things began to fall apart a little and it all became a bit messy as some of our more senior players left and the younger lads weren’t ready yet to come through.

“However much I loved the club and wanted to stay involved, I had become frustrated with it all and that’s when George and Rob came along and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.”

Abbott, at 30 a seasoned centre-half with the King George V Playing Field club, recalled: “As they took up the role in summer 2017 we also had a very talented and enthusiastic collection of under-18s fast emerging and ready to step into men’s football.

“In fact such was their progress that we went on to enjoy back-to-back promotions to get us to where we are today, pushing hard at the top of the Second Division.”

Anyone interested in taking up the manager’s position with Wickwar Wanderers can contact captain John Abbott via the form here.

Original post can be found on Gloucestershire FA’s website here. Author credit: Simon Parkinson, Gloucestershire FA’s Sports Journalist.