And so, as we know now, Billy Fox brought his period of tenure as Parkgate FC Manager to a close after Tuesday night’s FA Cup replay defeat at Northern Premier League side Leek Town; so it’s probably easier now to understand the Steelmen’s low-key 2-0 defeat to Armthorpe Welfare in Toolstation NCEL Division One at Green Lane yesterday, a result which leaves Albert Dudill’s men second bottom of the Division. Albert has reacted quickly, bringing in former player Andy Dawson –but yesterday’s result brought a disappointing end to Foxy’s time in charge, writes Colin Muncie for the Bootiful Game.
Armthorpe were good value for the three points, scoring in each half through Jordan Buckham (37 minutes) and Luke Williams just after the hour in front of the 67 crowd in Rawmarsh. Uncharacteristically, Andrew Fox saw an 80th-minute penalty saved, and so Wellie clinched the three points, and in doing so propelled Mike Carmody’s side up to twelfth in the table.
Effectively caretaker for the day, allowing time for the Parkgate Chairman to regroup, Foxy was philosophical as he considered his spell at Parkgate in general. He told the Bootiful Game “ When I took the position at Parkgate last year -with the club in a relegation dogfight and just having lost 6-0 at home to Thackley- the Chairman spoke to me about the chance of investment with another interested party. I told him that if I had the choice of investment in the team or an experienced Manager in the NCEL I would take the investment and in football terms he and the Committee decided to go with me. The club has struggled over the last four or five seasons due to lack of investment on the playing side, but that’s not to say the club isn’t run properly. They have fantastic facilities and pay what they can afford to provide a sustainable model off the pitch”.
Parkgate ended last season in the drop zone unable to get the couple of wins which might have secured Premier League survival “Several of the clubs around the bottom of the NCEL invested heavily near the end of last season to escape the relegation trap door. Unfortunately we could not do the same -and relegation ensued”, Foxy said.
During a busy pre-season, Foxy and team worked hard to develop a squad to challenge in Division One. “This season, we started with 40 to 50 traillists hoping to find a couple of players” he said. “Matt Crookes is testament to that, as he has been our best player this season. We found ourselves behind all of our local rivals in what we could pay in expenses, ruling us out of many forwards which I could attract if we could bridge the gap. Unfortunately that never happened”.
Foxy knew that bringing in a consistent goal threat was a priority, but couldn’t have expected to lose his key striker before a ball had been kicked in anger “Our main striker Nathan Joynes getting injured in preseason was an absolute disaster” Foxy admitted .“The FA Cup brought several thousand pounds in to the club, and the Chairman never said that money would be used on the playing budget.”
“He has never shied away from telling me the reality of the situation -and never lied to me”.
“The club has fared better in the Cup than for many years but the League form has been nowhere near good enough -and needs investment which I hope they have now got” Foxy said. “After the FA Cup replay I decided that there is no point flogging a dead horse, and as I was unable to afford a forward that will get you twenty goals it is better if someone else takes the mantle. The players have been brilliant in the Cup and off the pitch -but in the League we became a group of great friends that weren’t very good”.
Foxy is likely to be pretty visible around this and other Non-League venues near you. “Thanks to all the people at the club- especially the people behind the scenes, Colin especially, and I wish the new Management team well”, he said.” I will be attending some NCEL and Evo-Stik games and watching Sheffield Wednesday -and I’ll try and get another position when one becomes available”.
So, a major period of change at Parkgate, and with Media Manager Margaret Gregory, Head of Football development Nev Hunt, and Vice Chairman Colin Muncie also leaving the club, Chairman Albert Dudill has the chance to regroup his resources around his new Management team for the rest of the season ahead. We wish them well.
The Bootiful Game would like to thank Billy Fox for his many contributions during his time as Parkgate Manager.