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'It's come as a complete surprise' - Wilkins on his departure from Needham Market

PUBLISHED: 09:31 06 February 2020 | UPDATED: 09:33 06 February 2020

Richard Wilkins, who departed as Needham Market manager this week

Richard Wilkins, who departed as Needham Market manager this week

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Richard Wilkins has admitted that losing his Needham Market job "came out of the blue," following his surprise exit from Bloomfields earlier this week.

Flashback: Richard Wilkins outside the dug-out during his 14-year spell as manager at Bury Town, from 2000 to 20014. Picture: ANDY ABBOTTFlashback: Richard Wilkins outside the dug-out during his 14-year spell as manager at Bury Town, from 2000 to 20014. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

The Marketmen, who play at Step Three level, are currently ranked the top non-league club in Suffolk, sitting in 15th place in the Southern League Premier Central on the back of five wins in their last seven fixtures in all competitions.

In addition, Wilkins' men are in the last four of the Southern League Challenge Cup, and are also still in the Suffolk Premier Cup.

But, just a few days after seeing his side beat Hednesford Town 4-3 last weekend, Wilkins has left the club, with Academy manager Kevin Horlock taking over as his successor.

"It's come as a complete surprise," insisted Wilkins this morning.

The early days at Needham Market, when Richard Wilkins arrived as assistant manager to Mark Morsley during 2016-17. Picture: ANDY ABBOTTThe early days at Needham Market, when Richard Wilkins arrived as assistant manager to Mark Morsley during 2016-17. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

"It has come out right out of the blue, but then you can never be too surprised when it comes to football.

"It's happened to me a couple of times before at other clubs when I've felt I've done well there.

"However, that's football for you.

"It's not really about our good recent results. You feel settled in a club and feel everything is going to plan, but then this comes totally out of the blue.

Richard Wilkins, who parted company with Needham Market this weekRichard Wilkins, who parted company with Needham Market this week

"I didn't see it coming at all.

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"But a statement will follow in due course," added Wilkins.

A midfielder-cum-defender by trade, Wilkins had a successful playing career with the likes of Cambridge United, Colchester United and Hereford, before going into non-league management.

The 45-year-old had 14 fruitful years as Bury Town boss, from 2000 to 2014, guiding the Ram Meadow club to a couple of promotions along the way.

A spell at Leiston followed, from 2014 to 2016, before he joined Needham Market as an assistant to Mark Morsley - Wilkins took over as Needham boss in the summer of 2017.

Needham Market issued a statement yesterday, which confirmed:

'Needham Market Football Club can confirm the departure of Richard Wilkins as first team manager.

'Richard has been at the helm for two and a half seasons, maintaining the club at step 3 level.

'Needham Market FC wish to thank Richard for his efforts during his period within the club and wish him all the best in the future.

'Moving forward we are delighted to announce Kevin Horlock as first team manager. Kevin brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge and will continue with his role as Academy Manager.'

Graham Emmerson, Chief Executive says "Richard has been a pleasure to work with and he is completely professional in the way that he conducts himself and the manner in which he represents the Club.

'This has been a very difficult decision but the overriding consideration has to be what is best for the Club and who is best equipped to integrate some of the exceptional talent that is currently in our Academy into the first team.'

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