ANDY Buckingham will stand down as English Schools FA Under 18s manager this season and he is hoping to go out with a ‘home’ win.
The Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School teacher’s two-year tenure as national boss comes to end soon after the Centenary Shield home internationale are over.
And one of his last duties will be to lead his team out at Ewood Park when England host Scotland in April.
“Sadly, this game will be one of my last as manager and I am pleased that it is being held in my adopted home of Blackburn,” said Londoner Buckingham who swapped the East End for East Lancs 23 years ago.
Buckingham, a geography teacher at the Blackburn school, has been part of the national set up for more than a decade – serving as assistant for two years before taking up the manager’s role.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time with England, it has been incredible,” said Buckingham.
“To represent your country, either as a player or a manager, is a great honour.”
Buckingham will be looking to improve on last season’s record where England won one, lost one and drew twice.
And he hopes he can finish on a win.
“My swansong at Ewood Park, that’s not bad is it,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to the match. We have had some great support from the club and the Lancashire FA and we are hoping for a big turn out to cheer the boys on.”
The match will take place at Ewood Park on Friday, April 11 (ko 7pm).
England kick off their campaign when they play Wales in Wrexham on March 15 before playing host to the Republic of Ireland at Ashton Gate on March 28.
They travel to Belfast to play Northern Ireland on April 4 before ending the tournament against Scotland at Ewood Park the following week.
Buckingham is not the only local interest in the England set-up as former St Augustine’s High School Charlie Russell is in the 19-man squad.
Charlie, who now studies at Myerscough College, lives in Brockhall Village, just a stone’s throw from Blackburn Rovers training base.
“Charlie is a very good player,” said Buckingham who managed Blackburn Town teams before taking up his national post. “He is a very tenacious and a good central midfield player.”
The squad also includes two other Lancashire players, Preston-based duo Michael Hampson and Ryan Charnley.
Buckingham was heavily involved with the Lancashire School squads and ran the county team in 1996 that included David Dunn and Clark Carlisle.
He said he would enjoy a return to a similar role after his final game in charge of England against Belgium FA U18s.
“I’m not too sure what I will be doing regarding football,” he said. “The ESFA may have another role for me but it would be nice to be involved with the Lancashire Schoolboys again in some capacity.”
Ewood last played host to a Centenary Shield fixture in 2007, when England took on Northern Ireland, who are the current holders of the coveted trophy.
n Tickets are priced at £5 for adults and £2 for concessions and are available now from the Roverstore (Ewood), Oneroverstore (Blackburn town centre), www.onerovers.co.uk website or by calling the Ticket Office on 0871 222 1444.