Five years in charge at Workington Reds for Darren Edmondson
Last updated at 13:04, Friday, 14 September 2012
Darren Edmondson joins Joe Harvey as Workington Reds’ second longest serving manager. The Edmo era started four years, 11 months and eight days ago. Since then he’s taken Reds to the play-offs, beaten Wimbledon in a five-goal thriller, and survived relegation on the final day. Here, he talks about his tenure, and hopes for the future.
Tommy Cassidy quit, you were placed in temporary charge, despite being a player, how did your move into management come about?
I was shopping in Kendal and Humphrey Dobie [Reds chairman] called me. He said Tommy had quit, and offered me the chance to manage the club on a temporary basis.
I have Tommy to thank for getting me the job, because he put my name forward. I was always very vocal in the dressing room. I gave my opinion because I am opinionated.
It was the night we played Barrow, and I only had a few hours to prepare.
Phil Wilson was the Barrow boss. I never got on with him so my overriding feeling was wanting to beat him.
When I took the step back from playing and had the added responsibility of managing the team I was nervous to start with.
I have always enjoyed banter in the dressing room, and the buzz before games.
In many ways I haven’t changed much, and I still enjoy a joke with the lads, but know when to step back.
When Dobie offered you the caretaker role, was it a job you wanted on a full-time basis?
I always wanted to stay in the game after my days as a player were over, and Workington was a great opportunity.
I knew my time was up during the 1-1 draw with Gainsborough. Chris Hall was a young winger, and gave me a torrid time.
I was already full-time manager then, and trying to do both jobs was difficult. It was after that match I knew I wanted to be a manager.
The initial stage fright I felt in front of the lads in the dressing room was behind me, and it has become easier to make the big decisions some players don’t agree with.
Five games into your full-time tenure, you took Workington to Bury’s Gigg Lane, and the first round of the FA Cup for 25 years. That must have been a proud moment so early on into your career?
It was one of my proudest moments in football. It was such a long time since Workington had been at that level, and meant so much to the club.
It was a great occasion, but before I had time to take it all in, I was playing. David Hewson went down injured, and the butterflies came back.
At 1-1 we were on top, but unfortunately for Adam Collin, he made a simple error and it changed the game. Going behind knocked the stuffing out of us, but we didn’t deserve to lose 4-1.
Cup competitions have been a source of success during your reign. Workington have won more than £100,000 in prize money, but what are your most memorable cup moments?
We’ve had some great games. Winning 4-3 at home to King’s Lynn in the FA Trophy was great, and Shaun Vipond’s winner at Wimbledon takes some beating for euphoric moments, but seeing 600 Workington fans behind the goal at Bury was something very special.
The FA Cup is an incredible competition, and my overriding emotion that day at Gigg Lane was pride.
One of your first, and most important signings was bringing in Viv Busby as your assistant. What kind of man was he, and how did he shape you as a manager?
First and foremost, Viv is a gentleman, and he became a great friend.
After his final game at Boston, we shared a glass of wine on the bus home. It was emotional, and when he got off for the final time, I went to the back and I cried.
Viv was a football man. He was a great personality to have in the dressing room, and knew what to say at the right time.
He played the good cop, bad cop routine brilliantly, but knew when to have a quiet word. His experience was invaluable.
2010 was a vintage year. Workington went to the quarter-final of the FA Trophy, beating Rushden & Diamonds and Wimbledon, and made the Blue Square Bet North play-offs.
The season didn’t start too promising with one win in the opening nine matches, but 29 points in the final month saw Workington race into the post-season shake up 11 games unbeaten.
That season epitomised what it is like to be a football manager. At the start of the year, some fans wanted me out.
By the end, everyone were united.
I try my best every game, and didn’t let those comments get to me. I had to stay strong and focused. At that point, confidence was key, and by the end of the year, we felt invincible.
The spirit in the dressing room was incredible, and we genuinely believed we would beat Alfreton.
Unfortunately, we came up short against the best team we have faced during my tenure.
Last season couldn’t have been more different, with Workington clinging onto their tier-six status on the final game of the season.
How disappointing was that for you, and did you think about walking away
Last season was awful. When we went bottom, it was the lowest point of my career.
I was relegated as a player and it hurts. I never want to feel that again.
I found it hard sleeping at night. I would wake up and think about tactics and players, and what I could do to change things.
As manager it’s not just your livelihood in your hands, it’s the players’ too.
Some of them have young families, mortgages to pay, and I had all the pressure on my shoulders, but I have never been a quitter.
There have been some tough times as Reds boss, but you’ve always been supported by Dobie. How reassuring is that, considering the fickle nature of football management?
I have never rested on that. I have pride in my job, and I never go home after a defeat thinking it’s ok.
It’s not ok, and I am as devastated as anyone when we don’t win.
Working with Humphrey is easy because he loves this club and wants it to succeed, just like I do.
Humphrey is honest and if he isn’t happy he lets me know.
Almost five years since taking the job full-time, what is the most important lesson you’ve learnt?
To trust players’ opinions. If I am asking them to work hard for me, I must take their thoughts on board too.
I have also learnt how much time football management impacts on your private life. I am always on the phone to players and agents, and it takes its toll.
I have learnt a lot about man-managing. I now spend time getting to know players, and finding out what makes them tick.
There’s no doubt I have made mistakes. I have to shoulder the blame when things go wrong.
Managing a non-league side on a shoe-string budget is a thankless task, how long do you want to continue with Workington? Is surpassing Cassidy’s tenure a goal of yours?
I am not about ego and breaking records. If I am doing a good job then I’ll break Tommy’s record. I am not staying for that record though. I want to see this club achieve great things, and I want to be part of it.
First published at 11:53, Friday, 14 September 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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