Wakeling: I felt I was at a funeral (EXCLUSIVE)
Sunday 05th March 2006Bromley joint-manager George Wakeling was full of praise for debutant striker Simon Mitchell as his last-gasp winner helped his side beat play-off hopefuls Heybridge Swifts at Hayes Lane yesterday, writes Stephen McCartney.
Bromley extended their unbeaten run to eight games and have recently beaten three of the sides that currently occupy the four play-off places; with Hampton & Richmond Borough (2-0), Staines Town (2-1) and Heybridge Swifts (2-1) coming unstuck against the resurgent Ravens.
It was business as usual for Wakeling and his management team of Billy Smith and Frank Coles yesterday, after www.kentishfootball.co.uk broke the news last Tuesday that the trio were going to be replaced by former Crystal Palace chairman Mark Goldberg at the helm next season – with Ravens’ chairman, Jerry Dolke and former Reading and Eagles’ coach, Murray Jones.
Mitchell, who Wakeling signed from Ryman League Division One side Banstead Athletic last week, came off the bench to score a dramatic late winner, after former Folkestone Invicta striker Simon Glover cancelled out Adrian Stone’s 59th minute opener.
“He was there in the right spot at the right time,” said Wakeling. “I was pleased for him and us.
”We haven’t seen a lot of Simon, he started off slow but he does know where the net is and he can score goals. I hope he can bang in one or two for us.
This was the first game following the announcement www.kentishfootball.co.uk revealed of the wholesale managerial changes, and the game began in a subdued atmosphere – which concerned the 62-year-old.
”When I first walked out there I felt I was at a funeral,” he said. “It was really quiet.
”I had a few individual people come up to me and say how disappointed they were with the situation but they aren’t in a situation to do anything about it really.”
But Wakeling, Smith, 63, and Coles 41, will get on with their business of making sure Bromley improve on their 12th placed position – as well as lifting the Westview and Kent Senior Cups.
“Me and Billy have been around a long time. We won’t allow our sackings to distract what we’ve been brought up to do.
”We had a clear head to play football and that’s what the players had.
”I mean, to be fair, I’ve been asked by a lot of reporters that have I been worried about relegation.
”That hasn’t been brought into attention. Most teams in the division respect us and I think if we had a full squad we would have been in the play-offs.”
The relegation spots have been taken by Redbridge (9 points), Windsor & Eton (21) and Maldon Town (25), with fourth from bottom side Hendon (32) looking over their shoulder.
Bromley were nine points clear of the relegation zone when Smith told www.kentishfootball.co.uk the news about their departures, minutes after their 3-2 win over Wealdstone, to reach the semi-finals of the Westview Cup, last Monday night.
But although they went on a run when they went nine league games without winning (picking up just three points), relegation was never on the cards. Just a little flirt with the drop.
Reflecting on yesterday’s win, Wakeling added: “There was only going to be one winner and that was us.
”I don’t remember Andy Walker making a save to make – that proved how good we were defensively.”
Wakeling, however, admitted he was left reeling when the club said in their statement: “particularly considering we are not yet completely clear of the relegation places,”, and trying to keep their departures under wraps.
”It’s a thing that had to come out because it’s all very well for Jerry Dolke and Mark Goldberg to keep it quiet, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to be fair to ourselves,” Wakeling said.
”If we want to stay in football we had to come out (with the news). It had to come out and they (Dolke and Goldberg) had to appreciate it.
”The only thing that disappointed me – other than us leaving – was I don’t think the statement Jerry made was a fair statement to make.”