Cray Wanderers part company with Keith Bird

Wednesday 17th September 2014

CRAY WANDERERS have parted company with manager Keith Bird by mutual consent last night after suffering a 4-1 defeat to Cheshunt at Hayes Lane.

Chairman Gary Hillman appointed the former Bromley reserve team manager after ending Ian Jenkins’ 23-year love affair with the club on 27 September 2013.

The club were rooted to the foot of the Ryman Premier League table at the time of Jenkins’ departure with four points from 11 games, but Bird failed to stop the rot and the club were relegated for only the second time in their 154-year history, finishing in last place with 26 points from 46 games.

Bird insisted the club were pushing for the play-offs this season, but results were disappointing and he leaves the club third-from-bottom in the Ryman League Division One North table with two wins and a draw from ten league games.

Bird’s last move for the club was to bring in Laurent Hamici from Ryman Premier League side Dulwich Hamlet and the striker scored a last minute consolation against Cheshunt last night, but it couldn’t stop Bird losing his job at Hayes Lane.

In a statement, Mr Hillman said: “The club would like to thank Keith for all his hard work and effort over the last year and wish him all the best for the future.”

The chairman was quick to plug the gap by Bird’s departure by making current assistant manager Michael Paye and coach Gary Abbott joint caretaker managers.

Abbott, 49, started the season with Southern Counties East Football League side Greenwich Borough, who are managed by Jenkins, and sit in the bottom four with four points from as many games, 20 points adrift of league leaders Erith & Belvedere, but with five games in hand.

Mr Hillman added: “Gary Abbott, a former Cray Wanderers forward, is a well-known and well respected name in non-league circles and it is hoped he and Mike can return the club to winning ways.”

The pair’s first game in charge is on Saturday and a trip to league leaders Needham Market, who have won nine and lost one league game so far this season.

Relegation would mean a return to the Kent League (now called the Southern Counties East Football League) for the first time since 2004, when Jenkins won back-to-back Kent League titles.

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