Andrews resigns as Stowmarket manager, while return of non-elite football gets the green light
Rick Andrews has this evening announced his resignation as manager of Stowmarket Town, which will come as a big surprise to all those interested and involved in the non-league scene in Suffolk.
Loyal servant Andrews, who had been at the helm at Greens Meadow for more than seven years, had brought considerable success to the club after many years of being stuck in the doldrums.
In fact, Stowmarket were on course to clinch promotion from the Thurlow Nunn Premier last season, and were runaway leaders until that 2019-20 campaign was declared null-and-void due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Old Gold and Blacks had continued this season where they left off last season and, even though they are down in 10th spot, they have kept their superb unbeaten league record in tact.
Stow set a new Thurlow Nunn (Eastern Counties) League record only last month, by stretching their unbeaten run to 38 league matches, so eclipsing the previous record held by Wisbech Town.
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When the season was suspended in early November, Stow had extended that run to 39 league matches unbeaten.
But when Stow resume their 2020-21 campaign, with a home match against Eynesbury Rovers in the FA Vase on Saturday, December 5, Andrews will no longer be in the home dug-out.
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Instead, his assistant Paul Musgrove will be in charge, having been officially appointed Stow’s new manager this evening.
“It was a hard decision as my head is telling me it’s the right thing to do, while my heart is telling me I’m being silly for leaving now,” revealed Andrews.
“I’ve given seven-and-a-half years of my life to the club. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to achieve as a club during that time and, in my opinion, I’m leaving the club in a better place to when I arrived.
“Walking around the club on match-days and seeing the improvements we’ve made and the support we get from the fans makes me more proud than anything else.
“I don’t intend to be a stranger. I hope to get to some games when time allows, but all good things come to an end.
“I want to thank the club, the chairman, every single player that has played for me, all of our sponsors who have backed us, and all of the supporters for their support,” added Andrews.
An announcement on the club’s new management structure for the first team ‘will follow in due course,’
Andrews was first appointed manager in March, 2013, going on to be in charge of an impressive 336 games and masterminding the club’s first-ever promotion to Step Five, thanks to lifting the Thurlow Nunn League First Division title in 2017. This was the club’s first league crown for 66 years.
His successor, Musgrove, initially moved to Stowmarket as a player during the Thurlow Nunn First Division title-clinching season of 2016-17, before replacing Shane Coldron as assistant manager that summer.
Musgrove said: “I’ve got a mixture of emotions really.
“Me and Rick have become like family in the last three-and-a-half years. We speak to each other two or three times a day.
“Rick has done lots for me and helped develop me, as he has done for a lot of other people.
“I’m proud to be manager of Stow and hopefully we can go on and achieve what he would have wanted and get the club promoted,” added Musgrove.
Chairman Neil Sharp said: “Rick has not just been our manager but has also become a very good friend.
“Over the years he has been here he has been instrumental in bringing the good times back to Stowmarket Town FC.
“The job is still not complete but, to ensure we continue on our path, we have asked assistant manager Paul Musgrove to take over as the new first-team manager. We are pleased to announce he has accepted the position.”
The rest of the existing management team, comprising Dale Brooks, Danny Potter and Doug French, will all be continuing in their roles.
Meanwhile, The government has announced that non-elite non-league football can be resumed, in front of crowds, when the lockdown2 comes to an end on December 2.
Prime minister Boris Johnson also revealed this afternoon (Monday) that spectators will be allowed back at all outdoor sporting events, in areas up to Tier 2 in the tiered system that will replaces the national lockdown.
That means restricted numbers of fans will be allowed into stadiums to watch Premier League, EFL League and National League clubs (Steps 1 and 2 of non-league), in tiers one and two, with a 50% capacity or maximum 4,000 fans in area tier one (whichever is lowest) and a 50% capacity or up to 2,000 fans in tier two.
‘Non-elite’ and grassroots leagues up and down the country had already made separate announcements with regards their plans of when to resume football, when the go-ahead was given by the government to proceed.
Here is a recap:
Southern League: planned start of Saturday, December 12
Isthmian League: planned start of Saturday, December 19
Thurlow Nunn League: planned start of Saturday, December 5
Suffolk & Ipswich League: planned start of Saturday, December 5
FA Vase ties: Saturday, December 5
FA Trophy ties: Tuesday, December 8