Article by Luke Lambert: Craig Edwards says getting the backing from owner Glenn Tamplin has given Billericay Town the confidence to come together and mount a play-off charge.
Four weeks ago, Town had taken just seven points from a possible 21 in the Ryman Premier League to leave them closer to the relegation places than the top five.
This was despite the huge investment of steel magnate Tamplin, who is pumping £10,000 a week into the club in a bid to make them a Football League outfit in the next six years.
And Edwards, who has been in charge at Billericay since 2010 but has seen other managers linked with his position in recent times, admitted he was concerned at how things were going. That was until a phone call from the new owner calmed his fears.
“I had a chat with Glenn prior to the Met Police game about how it wasn’t going as well as I may have hoped and I told him I felt there was too much insecurity around the place. That wasn’t just me but the players and staff and even the boys that had just come in. We were signing three players a week and the feelings around the club does get through to them. You can’t be relaxed but you must be secure in your job. And, fair play, he took it on board. He asked me if I had heard rumours connecting (Chelmsford City boss) Rod Stringer and (Dagenham & Redbridge boss) John Still with the manager's job. I said yes but all I can do is the best I can do. He said ‘I have known John eight months and Rod Stringer six or seven years but I have known you 20 years, and I love you. He said I will definitely be here for two years and if he had his way I would be here for 10 years. But I know I have to do the job – a promotion every two years. I didn’t think getting that call would mean as much to me as it did but it took some weight off my shoulders - and the team as well.”
Edwards is anticipating plenty of calls this summer - as agents look to secure lucrative deals for their players at Billericay.
But he says he wants to get his business down before the end of term, ahead of a title charge next season - should they fail to go up this term.
“I want the side in place as close as possible should we not go up this year to win it next year,” he said.
“I would sooner do it this year. I will be offered 20 players a week in the summer and I will think ‘he is decent’ but that will be chaotic and I don’t want that. I didn’t know if I could plan for pre-season s I wondered whether I was going to be here. But I know I can now,”
Billericay face a test of their play-off credentials tonight when they welcome second-placed Needham Market to New Lodge.
Needham look all but assured of at least a play-off place, although a win for Edwards’ men would move them to within eight points of the top five - with games in hand of many of those above them.
Article by Luke Lambert, The Echo. Photo Nicky Hayes