New Spalding United boss Chris Rawlinson has spoken of his pride and surprise after landing the top job at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field.
Former number two Rawlinson has stepped up as manager following Dave Frecklington’s surprise decision to resign from the club over the weekend.
Frecklington took over as Gainsborough Trinity boss on Monday evening in a switch Rawlinson described as “too good for him to turn down.”
Having worked with the former boss for seven years, Rawlinson feels that the time is right for him to give management a go.
He didn’t feel that following Frecklington to Trinity would be viable, given that his knowledge of the National League North isn’t quite up to scratch.
Despite the change at the top, Rawlinson is adamant that everything else will be as it was at the Sir Halley.
He’s refusing to give up on the title and insists that a play-off place is the “minimum goal” for a bunch of players that have been in the top two all season.
He’s targeting a minimum of 21 points from what he calls a “13-game season” but sees no reason why the squad can’t outgun rivals Shaw Lane and Witton Albion in the race for top spot.
“It all came as a bit of a surprise,” admitted the new Tulips chief. “But it’s a massive opportunity for Dave and one he couldn’t turn down.
“We’ve worked together for seven years and have always spoken on a day-to-day basis. It’s a shame that we’ll not be working together any more, but things change in football.
“I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I wish Dave the very best at Gainsborough.
“He’s done a brilliant job for Spalding and he’s been given a great chance to progress.
“He’s taken Terry Fleming with him, which makes sense as he has some good contacts at that standard. Quite frankly, it wouldn’t have made sense for me to go with Dave – I’m not sure what I could have brought to the table at that level.
“But, when Spalding approached me to replace Dave, I thought ‘wow, what an opportunity for me’.
“We’re second in the league and there is so much still to play for. Being a manager is something that I want to do and I know Spalding are keen to maintain the continuity to the end of the season, at least.
“I’ve spoken to all of the lads and they are all 100 per cent committed to staying and finishing off the job. A few of them are also on contract, so if anybody wanted them they’d have to pay up!
“I think the message I want to get across to the club and fans is that nothing will change.
“I’m on-board with the style of play we’ve used. It’s not pretty, but it’s very effective at this level.
“The lads have been great all season and it’d be a travesty if we didn’t, at the very least, make the play-offs.
“I know Dave has previously said that the title is out of reach. But who knows? I’m very much one for taking it one game at a time and seeing where it takes us.
“We’ve got a lot of big games coming up and I know some of the sides around us have games in hand. But, if we were to win all of our games for example, we could still nick it.
“It’s a 13-game season now and we need probably 21 points or so to make the play-offs. That is the bare minimum as far as I’m concerned.”
Rawlinson will be assisted by Kevin Ward, who steps up from first team coach, and Director of Football Bob Don-Duncan. Player/coach Terry Fleming has followed Frecklington to Gainsborough.
The new management team face a real baptism of fire in their first game, however, as they make the trip to leaders Shaw Lane on Saturday (3pm), then visit play-off rivals AFC Rushden and
Diamonds on Tuesday night (7.45pm). Matt Varley (suspended) and Leon Mettam (injured) miss Saturday’s game, but Neal Spafford is back after serving his four-game ban.