Darren Eadie: 'My heart is telling me I want to play football, my head is saying we are going to be scrapped again'

Darren Eadie is the new joint-boss at Suffolk non-league side Leiston

Darren Eadie. Heart tells him one thing, head another, over the chances of the non-league season finishing - Credit: Archant

Darren Eadie admits that while his heart is telling him one thing, his head is telling him another, over the likelihood of non-league football returning any time soon.

The former Norwich City winger and now joint-manager of Step 3 Leiston, is desperate to see the non-league game start up again.

Leiston's joint managers, Chris Wigger (left) and Darren Eadie. Picture: ROBERT WALKLEY

Leiston joint managers, Chris Wigger, left, and Darren Eadie - Credit: Archant

Leiston have played just eight league fixtures in the Southern League Premier Central Division and haven't played since early November - they need to play 42 games to fit in a full campaign!

"Everyone is in same boat and it is really difficult to fathom out what could and should be done," Eadie, who is joint manager alongside Chris Wigger at Victory Road, said.

"Even the top people in the leagues don't really know what's going on.

"My heart is telling me I want to play football, but my head is saying we are going to be scrapped again.

Leiston players celebrate Finlay Barnes' first goal of the game during a dramatic FA Trophy tie against Worthing from...

Leiston beat Worthing in the Trophy and had a good couple of Cup runs. But, like many clubs, they are way behind on their league fixtures.Photo: HANNAH PARNELL - Credit: Archant

"It's such a changeable situation. Everyone wants to get football on, they are missing it incredibly. But the health and safety of the public and players is paramount.

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"At Leiston, we want to be playing. We had a good cup run, we feel our position in the league table is false. We haven't played anyone in or around us, only mainly top half sides."

Already there have been a few ideas banded around about leagues, like the Southern League Central Premier, which stretches from Suffolk across to Birmingham, splitting into close-knit regions and playing fewer, but more local games to complete the season.

"I've seen a few ideas about splitting the league," Eadie said.

Needham Market players celebrate after Ben Fowkes breaks the deadlock with the opening goal. Picture

Needham Market celebrate a Ben Fowkes goal this season. The Marketmen have made a good start to the season. But will it all be in vain? - Credit: Archant

"I don't care what we do, we just want to play. But I do understand for some clubs that idea will not be a satisfactory one.

"If I was Needham Market for instance, and I was near the top of the table, I'd want the league to be played out properly. This is one of the reasons I can't see the league completing, because I can't see all the teams agreeing on a way forward. And even if all leagues start up again, I don't know how you are going to get all the fixtures in."

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Another Suffolk side, Bury Town, who play at Step 4 in Isthmian North, have only played four league fixtures. They have 34 more to fit in to complete a full campaign.

"The problem is," Eadie added. "If you want non-league to start at a relatively sensible time next season, you can't play the amount of games still to be played, have a pre-season and then go straight back into next season."

For Eadie and Wigger, who was the former manager of Thurlow Nunn side, Sheringham, taking over at Leiston has not been easy. As they took over, there was the first full lockdown in March. And since then there have been further disruptions, including the current lockdown.

Leiston enjoyed pre-season under the new management of Darren Eadie and Chris Wigger. Photo: HANNAH

Leiston's Rob Eagle, centre, one of the more experienced players at Victory Road. Photo: HANNAH PARNELL - Credit: Archant

"It has been a journey already for me and Chris," Eadie said.

"We never got a good period at the end of last season to look at our team. And we feel a bit in the same position this season. We haven't had a really good chance to look at our squad to see what we need to add, because there is so much going on.

"But we are trying to make this break a plus for the club. Build a structure underneath. That was the point in us coming to Leiston.

"The impression me and Chris got when we arrived is that in previous years Leiston have been good payers, attract good players, some from farther afield that were coming to the club probably for the money. Some would stick around for a year and disappear.

Leiston celebrate winning the Suffolk Premier Cup final on the same night Spurs were beating Ajax Pi

Leiston celebrate winning the Suffolk Premier Cup two seasons ago. Almost all that squad have since left Victory Road - Credit: Archant

"When you do that you have to rebuild every season. That's not sustainable. We want to build a pathway. We don't want players to get into the reserves and think, that's it. It's not.

"We weren't just prepared to manage the first team and see what happens. We want to be there longer term and build the future of the football club.  We actually now have that time to build that structure. Every cloud has a silver lining as they say."

However, Leiston are currently second bottom of the Southern League Central Division, with just one league win from their opening eight games.

Will Davies celebrates scoring the opening goal for Leiston in their 3-2 home defeat to Barnet in the FA Cup. Picture...

Will Davies celebrates a goal. The striker has come through from Leiston's reserves to the first team. Photo: HANNAH PARNELL - Credit: Archant

"We're under no illusions. I think this league is the hardest at Step 3. We come up against teams with players with plenty of Football League experience. And we have a very young squad, who don't have that experience.

"That's why we want to play, get them more game time.

"We have good contacts and will look to add to what we have got, but they must be the right player, with the right attitude and right personality."

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