IT’S been a strange season at Accrington Stanley. After John Coleman’s stay of almost 13 years, we have now seen two managers leave in the space of nine months, both of their own accord and both to League Two rivals Chesterfield.
As a player it was a surprise to myself to see Leam Richardson leave the manager’s role to take up an assistant manager’s job at Chesterfield.
I can understand why he would like to work with ex-boss Paul Cook, as I had a huge respect for him as a manager and a coach.
However, having achieved the success of keeping Stanley’s Football League status intact, it seems a strange move to make.
Leam had been a long serving player for the Reds and he showed great pride in being given the opportunity to manage the club at such a young age.
It was strange calling him ‘gaffer’ and not ‘Leam’ as I had been a player alongside him the previous three seasons. Indeed, I was often fined for forgetting he was the boss.
But once the games came thick and fast it became a lot easier to see him as the gaffer, as his professional approach took over and he grew into his new role quite quickly.
He had no choice of course as we were in a bad run of form and well and truly in a relegation battle so he had to learn on the job – and fast.
Leam used his contacts in the game well and brought some highly experienced players into the squad, none more so than James Beattie, and it was that experience, I feel, that helped get results.
I definitely had to pinch myself on the bench at Bristol Rovers, sat in between Francis Jeffers, Nicky Hunt and Beattie.
When Leam spoke about the situation we were in, near the foot of the table, he always mentioned the background staff in the offices and how worried they were for their jobs and how they were reliant on us – the players – to get the results to keep us up and keep them in a job.
He always spoke very passionately about everyone at the club from the players, to the staff and the fans.
Therefore, after getting through such a difficult spell and coming out the other side, it is very strange to me that he did not want to build his own squad and have a full season as manager with his own team and see what he could achieve.
However, Leam has a family to think of and perhaps the location of Chesterfield, being much nearer to his home in Leeds, was a big factor in the decision.
The reality is it leaves a lot of players at the club who are now out of contract come July 1, myself included, are uncertain about our futures.
It is an unsettling time for everyone involved at the club, but Stanley is a club that refuses to die and always pulls together in times like this.
I feel the club will find the answer to this latest setback, but as a player I will just have to wait for a phone call hopefully, with an offer of my contract being extended, and go from there.
I enjoyed playing with Leam and being part of his first squad. I wish him every success in the future.
Football is a very short term career and circumstances within the profession can change how secure a player’s status is.
I am currently on a distance learning sports journalism degree through the PFA which I hope will give me some options and qualifications to prepare me for life after football.
Hopefully I won’t need to pursue it in the near future, but I feel it is important for me to think about life after football even at the tender age of 24.
The Lancashire Telegraph have been kind enough to take me on a work placement, and fit it around my training and games.
They have been very helpful and I am very grateful for the opportunity to learn about the media, how it works and to get involved.