Exclusive: Steve Ball quits as Leiston boss to take up full-time role at Colchester United
- Credit: Lucy Taylor
In a quick and dramatic turnaround of events, this afternoon’s home game for Leiston against Bognor Regis Town will be Steve Ball’s last as the Blues’ manager.
The popular and well-liked boss has transformed the Suffolk side from Ryman Premier Division relegation candidates to potential play-off contenders in less than a year.
As a result, he was offered a full-time youth team coaching role at Colchester United following Karl Duguid’s departure from the Weston Homes Community Stadium earlier this week.
The opportunity to work full-time within a professional football club he has great affection for was understandably too good of an opportunity for Ball to turn down. He reluctantly resigned from his position of Leiston first-team boss yesterday morning, with today’s fixture his final one in charge at Victory Road.
“From day one Andy (Crisp, the Leiston chairman) knew of my ambitions to kick-on in the professional game and this is just a fantastic opportunity for me, one too good to turn down,” declared Ball, who will join forces with Wayne Brown at Colchester, mainly coaching the club’s Under-18s team.
Having made more than 60 league appearances for the U’s, as well as working as a youth coach before his new title and promotion, Ball has an undying affection for Colchester United. He still leaves Leiston with a heavy heart though following a highly successful 11 months in charge of the Ryman Premier Division side.
“I wouldn’t have come back to any other club (Ball spent a spell as Mark Morsley’s assistant previously at Leiston),” declared Ball, who initially came back to Victory Road as Steve Pitt’s assistant in October 2013, before being given the reins in December following Pitt’s dismissal.
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“I’ve had a great time and year. Me and the club have such a bond, it’s full of great people and I’m leaving on great terms.
“I sincerely hope Leiston keep on improving as a club. I’ll always watch out for their results and I hope I can go out with a win.
“I’d like to think the fans and everyone associated would think that I’ve done a pretty decent job too.”
A side devoid of confidence after a woeful start to the 2013/14 season, Leiston were seemingly looking at a long, hard relegation battle when Ball first took charge. But he got the best out of virtually the same group of players to lead them to an incredible ninth-placed finish last term.
And that form has carried on this campaign, with the Blues sitting in sixth position before today’s game leaving a grateful chairman full of admiration and respect.
“I have a huge amount of respect for Steve and I am delighted for him that he has got this opportunity at Colchester,” said Crisp.
“I knew of his ambition to manage and coach in the professional game, and I’d like to think we’ve helped him as much as he’s helped us.
“He’s done a fantastic job and we owe a lot of where we are in terms of league stance to Steve.”
Leiston fans needn’t fear though, Ball’s immediate replacement looks likely to be Ball’s current assistant Richard Wilkins – a man who certainly needs no introduction in the Suffolk non-league scene following his 14 years in charge at Bury.
DID YOU KNOW?
Before today’s game, Steve Ball’s impressive league record for Leiston reads as: Played 44, Won 22, Drawn 10, Lost 12, Goals For 85, Goals Against 63, Goal Difference +22, Points 76
Before Ball took charge in December 2013, Leiston’s 2013/14 league record read as: Played 18, Won 4, Drawn 4, Lost 10, Goals For 20, Goals Against 34, Goal Difference -14, Points 16