Appleby’s staying on for ‘massive’ season

Wisbech v Soham action'Steve Appleby
Wisbech v Soham action'Steve Appleby

STEVE Appleby needed little persuasion to remain as manager of Wisbech Town for next season when the question was posed and he is already making plans for what describes as a massive 2012-13 season.

This is Appleby’s third spell at the club as first player, then assistant manager and now the boss and it is his great affection for the club that has kept dragging him back.

“The directors backed me all the way since I took the job and let me get on with it which means a lot. I have a budget to work with but I treat it like my own money and certainly do not go out to waste it.

“So when the chairman and Snips asked me about staying on it did not take long to give them the decision.

“As long as they want to the club to move forward and there are no cutbacks or restraints put on me l am honoured to do the job.”

When he took the manager’s job with the Fenmen in February 2010 he said everyone should be patient and that it would take three years before they could really challenge for promotion.

Fortunately the directors and fans have been patient but that was not really the case in his first spell as a manager at Bourne in 2004 where he had captained the side. That role lasted just nine games before Appleby had had enough and quit.

“There was an undercurrent at the club that I was not happy with and I do not think everyone was pulling in the same direction.

“I told them when I took the job that it takes time to put together a side challenging for honours together and when I left I said if they did not have patience they would struggle to get out of the bottom six.

“At Wisbech it is thankfully a lot different. The directors and the fans too have bought into what I am trying to do at the club and you have to have that support.

“We have not had a bad season but we are not quite there yet and we have to go on proving and if we do then it will be a massive next season for us.

“You cannot just go and sign who you want because you have to work within a budget.

“Hopefully the players from this season will still be here and if that is the case then I think we will only need two or three players. A couple more strikers would be nice.

“But you never know. Last summer we lost Callum and Cousie, but thankfully they are back.

“We had to rebuild the side again and I think in the circumstances they have done remarkably well.”

In his two years in charge there is little surprise at the highlight for him. That came when Wisbech ended their trophy drought of 16 years by winning the Ridgeons League Cup last May.

“Every manager is measured by trophies so it was nice to win one but it was the pleasure that success brought to the directors and fans that did it for me.”

But if there are highs then there are lows too and Appleby did seriously think about calling time on his job when a run of poor decisions by officials left him very frustrated.

“I would just like the referees to be more approachable and not referee games like robots. When I captained teams you could always have banter with refs but you cannot say anything to them now.

“We have a run of 10 games where big decisions went against us. They did not cost us wins in all the games, but it gets so frustrating when things are taken out of your hands.

“At the time I was not enjoying it and that is the one thing that will make me walk away if I am no longer enjoying the game.”

The other big disappointment this season for Appleby was the defeat in the FA Vase by Dunston UTS.

“It really wrankles me that Dunston were playing in a quarter-final against Peterborough Northern Star on Saturday and not us. Especially as they are now through to the semis.

“We should have beaten Dunston at home but were let down by two pieces of poor defending. Then at their place we could easily have been 2-0 up before they scored.”

Appleby is looking for six points from the home games against Woodbridge on Saturday and Diss Town next Tuesday night.

And he has certainly not given up hope of finishing the season in the top two in the Ridgeons Premier Division.

He said: “There are still plenty of points to play for and with the teams above us dropping points we have to be in a position to take advantage.

“We have home games against Woodbridge and Diss coming up and we have to be looking at getting six points from these games to put pressure on the teams above us. A good win on Saturday and we could be in the top four again.”

Wisbech will go into Saturday’s game without Ollie Pinner and Matt Lunn but Anthony Reeve and Stacy Cartwright should be back plus midfielder Lewis Thompson who has been out with an ankle injury. Callum Reed, who missed the Hadleigh game for personal reasons, also remains a doubt.