Dragons in chaos as season approaches

WIVENHOE Town have sacked boss Neil Northcott less than three days before the start of the new season.

Stuart Watson

WIVENHOE Town have sacked manager Neil Northcott less than three days before the start of the new season.

Northcott was promoted from the role of club physio to manager at the end of last season after former West Ham defender Julian Dicks decided to walk away from the job after a season in charge.

The EADT understands that Northcott was given the role earlier this summer on the premise that he would use his numerous contacts in the game to bring a host of young players to the financially struggling club.

However, with less than a week to go until their Ridgeon League Premier Division opener at Kirkley & Pakefield, the club had just a handful of officially registered players.

One source close to the club said: “It was getting silly. The club was looking like it would barely be able to field a five-a-side team come the first game of the season.”

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An open training session on Tuesday night saw 22 players attend, but the club felt it was time to act and have replaced Northcott with the new management team of Paul Sibbons, Brian Rodgers and Andy Holman.

Northcott's assistant Paul Grainger - who had a number of players lined up to be signed once the manager returned from his holiday - was given the opportunity to stay on at the club, but he has declined due to the fact that new boss Sibbons has brought in his own back room staff.

Club chairman Carl Callan refused to comment on the changes. He said: “I've spoken to Neil and as far as I'm concerned the reasons should stay within the club.”

Northcott, who managed the Dragons for a spell earlier this decade, said: “I understand it stems from that they (the club) could not contact me while I was on holiday recently.

“However, I was in contact with my assistant manager by e-mail and was contactable through my home e-mail address using a laptop, but my phone was not working where I was in France and that obviously meant I couldn't be contacted.

“People also said I couldn't commit because of my job in the army, but that is rubbish and that we hadn't got enough players in but I was expecting another five or six to sign on before the weekend and that won't happen now.

“I would have been happy with getting three or four games and if it was a complete shambles then I would have held my hands up and gone.”

Wivenhoe have played just three pre-season friendlies so far - and two of them have been against the same club. After losing 2-0 to a largely Under-18 Leyton side, they drew 1-1 with Border League side Brightlingsea before then losing to the coastal side 2-1.

Sibbons, who will lead the new management team, ran Wivenhoe's Under-18 team last year alongside Rodgers, while Holman has managed Stanway Rovers' Reserves in the past.

The trio now face a race against time to get enough players signed on before the trip to north Suffolk on Saturday.

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