Wholesale managerial changes at Bromley (EXCLUSIVE)

Tuesday 28th February 2006

Bromley’s experienced managerial trio of Billy Smith, George Wakeling and Frank Coles are desperate to win both the Westview and Kent Senior Cups as they are leaving Hayes Lane at the end of the season, writes Stephen McCartney.


Bromley booked their place in the semi-finals of the Westview (Ryman League) Cup last night following their deserved 3-2 win over Wealdstone in front of their lowest crowd of the season. 

SKY SPORTS were at Hayes Lane to keep taps on Wealdstone’s striker Jermiane Beckford, who netted his 35th goal of the season, and many scouts watching the game would have also been impressed with influential Bromley star, Sam Wood. 

The former Cray Wanderers’ winger netted a brace, taking his tally up to six goals for the season, and a goal from Adrian Stone, whose improved following his loan spell at Ashford Town, helped Bromley book their place into the two-legged semi-final. 

They shall play either Worthing or Billericay Town, who play the last quarter-final at Woodside Road tonight, with the first game being held at Hayes Lane on 14th March, and the return leg seven days later.

A cup final with Fisher Athletic is highly likely, as the Fish tackle Slough Town in the other tie.

Also, Ramsgate are the visitors to Hayes Lane in the semi-finals of the John Ullmann Kent Senior Cup – with a final against either Gravesend & Northfleet or Margate (who have won the competition three years running) up for grabs.

When asked what’s the secret behind Bromley’s seven match unbeaten run, Smith EXCLUSIVELY revealed to www.kentishfootball.co.uk after last night’s win:  “The secret is me and George have got the sack at the end of the season so we want to finish on a good note.”

Joint-managers Smith, 63, Wakeling, 62 and assistant manager Coles, 41, have all managed the club previously, were told of their departure a few weeks back but Smith felt now was the time to break the news now that they’ve progressed into two semi-finals.

Smith admitted he felt “despondent” having been told former Crystal Palace chairman, Mark Goldberg is to take over as manager in the summer.

“Well it’s certainly not a football decision why we’ve been sacked – it’s a family decision,” he bemoaned.

”The guy who is taking over is the brother in law of the chairman.  Mark Goldberg wants to be manager.”

Injuries have curtailed the club’s push towards the Ryman Premier League play-off’s but it is likely there could be a massive exodus of playing staff during the summer.

“We’re in two cups and we’ll go out to win every game we can until the end of the season, said Smith.  “So the supporters will know we’ve done our best.  That’s all we can do really.”

Smith joined Bromley’s management team at the start of 2005 having stepped down as boss of Carshalton Athletic, where he enjoyed much success with the Robins during the 1980s and 90s, before moving onto take the helm at Crawley Town via a brief spell in charge at Hayes Lane as caretaker manager in 1999. 

Smith returned to Colston Avenue in the summer of 2003 to help lead Carshalton into the newly formed Nationwide Conference South.

Chislehurst based Wakeling began his love affair with Bromley in the summer of 1990 after a successful reign at Leyton-Wingate and guided Bromley back to the Ryman Premier League in his first season.

On a shoe-string budget he won the Kent Senior Cup twice and the London Challenge Cup during his eight years in charge at Hayes Lane before taking over at Ashford Town in January 1999, before moving to Hastings United, where he helped the East Sussex club reach the first round of the FA Cup.

He made an emotional return to Hayes Lane in December 2004, replacing Stuart McIntyre, after two seasons at Carshalton Athletic, where he was assistant manager, and like before, guided Bromley back into the Ryman Premier League at the first attempt last season, winning a play-off final at Horsham last May.

This season, the pair helped Bromley reach the FA Cup fourth qualifying round (for the second successive season) and were on course to reach the play-off’s before the club were hit by crippling injuries.

Coles is a Bromley “legend”, having made 469 appearances for the club.

He signed for Charlton Athletic at the age of 14 and played alongside Paul Elliott and Paul Walsh.

After being declined a professional contract, he signed for Leytonstone & Ilford and after two seasons he was sold to Dagenham, playing in the top flight of non-league football.

Having played nearly 200 games for the Daggers, Coles returned to Leytonstone & Ilford, where he won the Isthmian League title alongside Warren Barton, who went on to play for Newcastle United.

Coles signed for Leyton Wingate and played under Wakeling and all it took was a curry for him to sign for the East London club.

Coles was then sold to Enfield and in the meantime, Wakeling was appointed manager of Bromley and it took a curry in a local pub to sign the tough tackling and loyal midfielder.

Coles recalled: “I was told of all the plans the club had and I knew George would get promotion so I signed that night.

“We had some great times at Bromley when I played for them.  We gained promotion in my first season, finishing runners up to Chesham United.

“We won the Kent Senior Cup twice (beating Hythe Town and Dover Athletic), the London Challenge Cup (beating Leyton Pennant) and we reached the first round of the FA Cup in 1996, losing 3-1 at home to league rivals Enfield.

“We also had some bad times, ground sharing all over the place (at Dulwich Hamlet, Croydon and Walton & Hersham) following the two fires at Hayes Lane in 1992.

“The club also went into liquidation and those days were hard times, but we had a great team and club spirit and got through it.”

Coles, who was offered the managers job when Wakeling moved onto the Homelands, admitted: “I was disappointed that it never worked out in my first spell as manager.

“Dave Edwards was sacked as manager in October 1999 and the club brought in Billy (Smith), which was a great move.

”Billy has lots of experience and turned the team around in two games but he had committed himself to Crawley Town so he suggested that I should take over as manager again.

“We did well that season, finishing in ninth place in the Ryman League first division,” Coles, now 41, wrote in his programme notes for his testimonial in 2002 as a Cray Wanderers’ player, before he too returned to Bromley in December 2004.

Back to the present day, Smith, who revealed the players already knew about the changes in management before this story broke, admitted the decision to release them is “sole destroying.”

“It’s sole destroying.  The club head hunted myself and George and a year later they say see you later, someone in the family wants to do the job, so I’m a bit despondent really.

“I just feel fed up, similar things have happened to me before now and it’s just one of those things.

“We came here to get them promotion at the beginning, we had a good FA Cup run and if we come halfway this season we’ll be highly delighted with it.

”It was only a couple of months ago we were told that Mark Goldberg would be the manager and that’s their decision.

“To be totally honest I could have walked straight away from it but I’m here to support George.”

Bromley entertain third placed Heybridge Swifts at Hayes Lane on Saturday, 3pm.


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