Mark Morsley: Star-studded Needham Market won’t lose its soul

Kem Izzet (right) signs a two-year deal at Needham Market alongside manager Mark Morsley

Kem Izzet (right) signs a two-year deal at Needham Market alongside manager Mark Morsley - Credit: Archant

Needham Market manager Mark Morsley says his star-studded squad will not become another soulless non-league outfit.

Having joined the mid-Suffolk club from Leiston in the summer, Morsley has managed to persuade former Ipswich and Leeds star Ian Westlake, ex-Colchester striker Jamie Guy and now former U’s midfielder Kem Izzet to sign for the Ryman League Division One North side.

In addition, Ipswich Town academy coach Steve Foley and former Ipswich and Northern Ireland midfielder Kevin Horlock are both on the coaching staff.

“Outsiders may look at us and think we’re throwing money at it, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Morsley.

“These players are joining us because of what we can offer their lifestyles.”

Westlake, still only 29, admitted that he’d simply grown fed-up with being pushed from one club to another as professional outfits continued the trend of chopping and changing managers.

Izzet, now aged 32, is keen to stay in Essex with his young family and focus on establishing his own soccer schools.

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“There are plenty of other clubs at our level paying much more money to journeyman non-league players,” said Morsley.

“We purposefully haven’t gone down that route. What we want is a core of young players from the academy learning off of a handful of top coaches and former professionals.

“I’ve been at clubs in the past with massive budgets and seen how shallow it can be, with big-earners disappearing straight after games and not integrating.

“Kem had some reservations when I first contacted him because there are several horror stories that go around the professional game about how players drop out of the Football League to sign for a non-league chairman that is pumping money into a club only for that chairman to pull the plug soon afterwards.

“That’s not the case here. The club is run as a self-financing business and has a stable, long-term set of goals. That’s why I’ve committed for four years.”

Explaining how the two-year Izzet deal came about, Morsley continued: “Like everyone else I just read about Kemi’s departure from Colchester last week, saw that he was looking for a League One or League Two club and didn’t really think much more of it.

“One of the guys at Colchester phoned Steve Foley to say Kem was looking at doing some coaching, I rang Steve Ball – one of my old coaches at Leiston who is now at Colchester – to get Kem’s number and persuaded him to meet me for a chat.

“We spoke about how he lived just around the corner from me in Mistley, how I could help him start his business and how he could start his coaching within our academy. Everything just seemed to fall into place.”

He added: “I’m going to need a fair bit of self-confidence in my team talks with some of the players in my dressing room now aren’t I?!

“Luckily everyone who knows me will say I’m generally not lacking in that department!”

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