Friday 28th January 2005

The Kent Website
Supporting Kentish Football

Family comes first

BARRY LAKIN became the fourth manager to resign from a Kent club in an astonishing five day spell, writes Stephen McCartney.

The 31-year-old former Chelmsford City academy coach was appointed first team manager at Southern League Division One East side Erith & Belvedere in the summer but has decided to resign from the Park View Road club.

He joins Andy Ford (Gravesend & Northfleet), Tommy Sampson (Dartford) and John James (Sevenoaks Town) that have all decided this week it was time for a change.

However, Lakin stated his decision to leave the Deres was purely for family reasons but he has quickly teamed up with Brian Statham - who joined the Deres earlier in the month from East Thurrock United - at Heybridge Swifts.

Statham has been appointed manager at Scraley Road with Lakin asked to assist him at the  Ryman Premier League club.

Lakin said: "I have to stress that this is a personal decision taken for family reasons and I would have done this whatever our league position.

"As many of you will know, my partner will be having a baby in three weeks time, and the closer this date has come the more difficult it has become for me to spend time at the club.

"I have had to shoot off straight after training, which is not what the teams needs.

"In addition our house has to be refurbished, which has meant increased commitments away from football."

Lakin, however, explained to the clubs disgruntled fans - the club are currently in the relegation zone with 16 games to go - his reasons for teaming up with Statham at a club, which is only minutes away from his Chelmsford home.

"Brian Statham, who left the club earlier this week on his appointment as manager of Heybridge Swifts, has offered me a post as his assistant, which was too good an offer to turn down," he said.

"I had an opportunity to join a club - irrespective of which league or which division they're in - which is crucially, 15 minutes from home.  It was a difficult decision but a defensible one.

Lakin revealed his coaches at Erith & Belvedere, Steve Robinson and Grant Spelling will be taking over from him.

Lakin said: "Once again, this has nothing to do with where we are in the league.  The Deres have sixteen games to go and have emerged from a period including games against the top four.

"I believe that I'm leaving Steve Robinson and Grant Spelling with a good squad with potential, which was starting to show its quality - I don't think I'm leaving them in the lurch.

"Quite honestly, if I hadn't done this I would have been leaving them in charge anyway during the coming weeks.

"But then, Steve and I never saw our roles as a "1 and 2" situation - it was always a partnership and I  am sure I'm leaving the club in capable hands."

Lakin thanked the club's board for giving him his break at first team level.  The manager was always open when communicating with fans and always had conversations with them on the club's website and it's forum.  However, he was disappointed when only four fans attended a "Meet the Manager" evening after a home game earlier in the season when fans had the chance to air their views on the team - but opted to air them in cyberspace instead.

He said: "I am grateful to John McFadden (chairman) for the opportunity he gave me and I believe I brought good players and good people to the club.

"I had a fantastic working relationship with (secretary) Kellie Discipline, and I'd also like to thank her for her assistance.

"John has said I'll be welcome to visit the club any time - I hope the supporters feel the same way - and I certainly intend to be back in a few weeks to wet the baby's head.

"My very best wishes to the Deres for the rest of the season - and beyond."

So Erith & Belvedere's home game with local rivals Dartford - both are currently in the bottom three - won't see Lakin or Sampson in the dugouts.

However, Darts director and former player Tony Burman - in his third spell in charge - will be inside the away dug-out and former Darts pair Steve Robinson and Grant Spelling will be in the opposite one.

They say a week in football is a long time.  By the time the two side's clash at Park View Road next weekend, whose to say there won't be further changes?

Barton Rovers v Erith & Belvedere
Southern League Division One East
Saturday 29th January 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Sharpenhoe Road, Barton-le-Clay, Bedfordshire