JAMES Beattie described rounding off his first year in management with fast-tracking his way to his required coaching badges as the icing on the cake, on the back of preserving Accrington Stanley’s Football League status.
The Reds were facing a £20,000 fine – £15,000 of which was suspended – for being found to be in breach of Football League rules in January because Beattie did not have the minimum required qualification for a manager in League One or League Two, eight months after taking charge.
But the Stanley boss passed his assessment on Wednesday night, completing his transition from player to manager ahead of the final game of the season tomorrow, at home to AFC Wimbledon.
That does not mean, however, that the former Everton and Southampton striker is ready to hang up his playing boots completely.
“I don’t know, I’ve got 498 appearances so I might register next year,” said Beattie.
But, despite safety being assured with last weekend’s win over Oxford – a first for the club against the U’s – he has ruled out a run-out tomorrow, in favour of giving youth a chance, and the opportunity for fans to show their appreciation to the side who defied the early season odds to stay up.
“I don’t want to take any focus away from the players,” said Beattie, “I might bring the young lads into the squad, which they deserve. That would be a nice little boost before the summer for them, and they would have a look at coming onto it at a positive time, which would give them a lift as well.
“The lads know them so they would integrate into the group well. They’ve been training with us on and off throughout the year, but to get them in on a matchday, where the spirit’s going to be good, and they’re going to see the lads focused as well to get the result, because potentially we could finish 12th.”
Of achieving his qualification before the end of the season, Beattie added: “I’ve done my Level 2 and my UEFA B Licence this season, while running the football club and trying to see my family, so it’s been tough.
“It’s a course that usually takes nine to 12 months and I’ve done it in probably 12 weeks while still trying to keep the football club in the league. But it’s been an experience and an experience I’ve enjoyed.
“It’s a weight off my mind, not that I wasn’t confident of passing it but the workload it entailed was quite large and I'm very pleased to pass it.
“It’s the icing on the cake. Securing League status is obviously the biggest thing, for the club and for the boys, because I’ve said all along that’s what they deserve.
“For myself personally it’s a good achievement in the circumstances.
“But you always want to be better. The moment that you don’t, I might as well just not turn up.
“I want to be better next season, I want the club to be better next season and I’ve always been like that.”