BRIDGNORTH’S new manager has pledged to give local players the chance to shine in the first, reserve and development teams, as he pushes to increase the club’s fanbase, writes JAMES FISHER.
Mark Clyde, who has lived in the town for nine years, is hoping to replicate the success of the rugby club by getting more townsfolk involved with the football club across the board, having taken over from former manager Lee Mills.
And the former Wolves player, who previously coached at Worcester City, said he was excited at the prospect of bringing more cheer to Crown Meadow during his first stint as manager.
“I know a lot of the players in the town and those that have not been playing; I’ve also watched Bridgnorth play a few times at this level,” he said. “Since taking over I’ve asked several of the local boys to come down to training and the same applies to everyone else. We want local lads in the team because they deserve their chance.
“I’m not coming in to lose games of football – I have got high hopes – but I’m not going to say we’re going to win the league.
“We have spoken to everybody who played last year and obviously the reserve team manager has spoken to some of his lads and those in the development squad. Everyone has been invited back for next season.”
Clyde said the team had performed well last year and he was looking to build on the solid foundation.
“It’s a local team and we want to be supported by local people, but the only way to do that is to play local players,” he said. “This is my first managerial role and, like I said to the board, things needed to be sorted sooner rather than later, because it’s not that long before pre-season starts.
“Any manager who says it’s not exciting is in the wrong job and I cannot wait to get my teeth into it. It is a different role from the one I had at Worcester City because the manager would take care of the organising, but I still speak to him quite a bit on the phone for words of advice.
“It’s not like it’ll jump up and bite me; it is a different role but one I feel I can step into quite easily. One thing we will be doing is playing football; no lumping it up the park, but playing in the right areas.”
Having retired in Bridgnorth, Mark got his first taste of local football through the Spartans junior set up and eventually went on to create his own academy.
“I have lived in the Bridgnorth area for about nine years and moved here during my Wolves days, pretty much after moving to England,” he said. “My first football role in the town was with Bridgnorth Spartans, getting involved with kid’s football.
“A couple of years ago I took 95 per cent of my Spartans team with me to form my own academy.
“The first team has since asked me to bring the team back to Bridgnorth and into the Shropshire Minor League, so it has gone full circle. It’s just good for kids to be playing football.
“I’m planning to stay at Bridgnorth for a long time.
“I want the junior teams to come on board so we can move forward together, but I still need to speak to the board and the chairman.
“The junior teams have done a fantastic job and it would be wrong of me to try and change everything, but I’d love to see players going from under-8s through to first team level, to put the town on the map football wise.
“The club needs a bit of stability and organisation, not just from the manager but also input from local businesses and support from local people.”
Clyde has also agreed to keep the management set up as it is, working with the staff he already has in place.
“I was asked if I wanted to bring anyone on board but I had a meeting with the current team managers and told them there was no point in changing things around just yet,” he added.
“I want the other managers to come and take training with me, so we can swap things about and have a look at all the players.
“I don’t want a first, reserve and development team as such, just a squad of players who can be moved about depending on their performances. I’m very enthusiastic about the whole thing.”
All footballers are welcome to attend town’s opening training session on Saturday, June 25, at the football club, from 10am, although some experience at a good level is preferred.