MICK HOLGATE has made a shock return as joint caretaker-manager of relegation-haunted Chorley following the sudden departure of Brian Griffiths.

Ex-Bamber Bridge chief Holgate walked out on the Magpies just eight months ago after refusing an offer of a reserve team post following the appointment of Jim McCluskie as assistant boss.

But he has returned on a temporary basis alongside McCluskie after Griffiths finally decided to quit following a summit meeting with chairman Jack Kirkland.

The ex-Morecambe boss had been walking a tightrope in recent weeks after a disastrous run which has kept the Magpies pinned in the bottom two in the UniBond League Premier Division.

He eventually paid the price but departed on good terms and defended his record, insisting he has left the club in better shape than when he took charge nearly two years ago.

"I've no axe to grind with anyone at the club. I've had to work with a tight budget but I knew the score when I took the job," said Griffiths.

"I feel I'm leaving the club in a better situation than when I took over.

"We might not be better off in terms of league position but the backroom staff is there and I've left a good squad of players. "It just needs one or two more new faces and I'm sure they can still get out of trouble."

Griffiths took over from Steve Doyle in the last few weeks of the 1996-97 season at a time when the club was going through a transitional stage.

Chairman Jack Kirkland was sorry to see Griffiths go after standing by him throughout a traumatic season.

"Brian offered his resignation and with great regret the board accepted it," said Kirkland.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.