LEISTON BOSS GLENN DRIVER INTERVIEW: His job as Blues manager, season highlights, Matt Blake and Leiston’s ambition
- Credit: Archant
Leiston boss Glenn Driver admits it has taken him until now to realise what a big job he has as manager of the Ryman Premier League Blues.
Driver was speaking after a rollercoaster of a campaign for the Victory Road club – the first for him as manager.
It was hugely successful, with FA Cup runs, FA Trophy runs, topping the Ryman Premier table for a period, the team eventually finishing a creditable seventh with their highest-ever points tally of 73.
Missing out on the play-offs by a point was a bitter pill to swallow, especially as the Blues were sitting in the final play-off place with just four minutes of the league season to go – when Enfield equalised in the 86th minute against the Blues.
Not that it takes away Driver’s enjoyment of the campaign.
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“It’s been a brilliant season for us and for me a real learning curve,” Driver said.
“The other week I went and watched a Thurlow Nunn Premier match, a level I used to manage at. It was a good advert for Step 5, but it wasn’t Step 3 where I’m managing now.
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“It made me realise what a big job I have here, how far I’ve now come. It’s a great job and I’m very lucky.
“The standard is so high. My players have been fantastic this season working with a small squad.
“You need a big squad at this level, the likes of Havant, Bognor and Dulwich will have 22 players, the likes of us and Needham Market have 15 or 16. We both do well to compete so highly.”
Looking back on an exciting season, Driver has many highlights to look back on.
“Our 4-1 win at Hungerford in the FA Cup after being 1-0 down was special,” said Driver.
“We beat Eastbourne Borough on penalties away in the Trophy and then drew at Bromley in the next round.
“In the league our two big wins against Needham were enjoyable because of the way we played.”
Although a team effort, there is little doubt who grabbed most of the headlines throughout the campaign – Leiston striker Matt Blake, who turned down a move to big-money Billericay just a month ago. He ended the season as the League’s top scorer with 29 goals - 42 in all competitions.
But will he stay next season?
“Matt is on contract with us until next summer,” Driver said.
“He loves it here, but he also wants to play at a high level as possible, which I fully understand.
“If he does stay, he will stay for a further couple of years. We will see what develops, of course he has attracted a lot of interest.”
Driver admits he has been lucky with injuries with a squad which wouldn’t have dealt with many.
He has praise for his players’ efforts and paid tribute to his “excellent” chairman Andy Crisp who has backed him and first-team coach, Tony Kinsella.
Looking ahead to next year Driver, who has a three-year deal with the Blues, is already making plans.
“We are looking at three or four new players and I’m excited about the ones we are already talking to,” he said.
“We want to work hard with our reserves to help those players bolster our squad, as well as our U18s and U15s. The club wants promotion to Step 2, make no bones about that. We are ready, on and off the pitch.
“It’s been a great season, but now let’s beat the 73 points next year, and see where it takes us.”