‘My role at Bury Town became untenable’, says former boss Richard Wilkins

Richard Wilkins

Richard Wilkins - Credit: Archant

Richard Wilkins took the heart-wrenching decision to part company with Bury Town yesterday, after 14 years loyal service at Ram Meadow.

Appointed Bury manager back in 2000, shortly after his retirement as a professional footballer, Wilkins masterminded two promotions and guided the Blues to five cup successes.

But the 48-year-old was deeply frustrated with the off-the-pitch financial problems that dogged the club last season, which prompted wages to be delayed and several established players to leave, including Shane Tolley, David Bridges and Russell Short.

Having looked strong candidates for the play-offs during the first half of the season, Wilkins was just relieved that his depleted squad managed to retain their Ryman League Premier status, as well as lift the Suffolk Premier Cup with a win over Felixstowe & Walton.

“It was a big decision for me to make, but it seems the right time for me to part company with the club,” explained Wilkins last night.

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“You can only do so much, and there are major restraints at the club now. I look at it and I say to myself – ‘can I build up the club again?’

“The restraints now in place at the club, in my opinion, make the manager’s role untenable.

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“It’s a rarity, in this day and age, for a manager to stay at the same club for 14 years, but it’s been well-documented what went on financially with the club last December, issues that were out of my control.

“If I had managed to keep the squad together, then I have absolutely no doubt that we would have made the play-offs. But we lost a lot of players, and the Ryman League Premier is a very unforgiving league.

“It was important for me to part company on amicable terms. I wanted to go out with dignity, and I think that I’ve given Bury a lot of good years.

“I managed to build the team up, but it’s a chance for someone else to take over with different ideas.

“I still want to stay in the game, and I still think I have a lot to offer, whether as a manager or as an assistant somewhere else, or filling a different role in the professional game.

“I just hope that Bury Town does not now go on a downward spiral. I hope the club can consolidate next year, and then kick on in the seasons to come,” added Wilkins, who was a former midfielder at Colchester United, Cambridge and Hereford.

Wilkins was a regular member of John Beck’s Cambridge squad which came so close to winning promotion to the new Premier League in 1992. He also went on to captain Colchester to play-off glory at Wembley in 1998, earning the U’s promotion to the third tier.

So loyal as a player, Wilkins continued to show that trait in management, and it was only after holding several meetings with Bury chairman Russell Ward, over the last three weeks, that he made his decision to leave.

Ward said: “It’s the end of an era, but nothing is forever. Richard can hold his head up high, because he has done a fantastic job for this club.

“I told him how the future would be, and although it’s not all doom and gloom, we are in a tough financial position, and that won’t change for the moment.

“In his opinion, his position had become impossible and decided to call it a day. We are looking at the survival of the club, in the long-term, and we are waiting to hear an update about the new ground in the next few months.

“I still think that we can consolidate in the Ryman Premier,” added Ward.

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