Young cup final boss prepares for old foes

AT the relatively tender age of 33, Christian Appleford has already experienced the highs and lows of football management.

AT the relatively tender age of 33, Christian Appleford has already experienced the highs and lows of football management.

Success came in his first role as joint manager of Crane Sports in the SIL League when the side lost just one game during his six months at the club.

He found things less easy last season when he was part of the management team at Stowmarket Town who finished a disappointing fourth from bottom in the Ridgeons League Division One.

But it was the job in between that showed the young manager the bitter-sweet nature of life in the dugout.

He left Crane Sports to join a Woodbridge Town side that were staring Premier League relegation in the face with less than three months to play.

A thankless task for some, Appleford managed to keep the Woodpeckers up but was relieved of his position just nine days before the start of the 2009/10 season amid grumblings of poor transfer dealings and training attendance.

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Fast forward 18 months, Appleford has put his Woodbridge woes behind him and after leaving Stowmarket, he is now enjoying his greatest management success to date with Mildenhall Town.

Fifth in the Premier Division on the back of six wins and a draw from their last seven, Appleford and his players also have a cup final to look forward to courtesy of Andrew Wood’s winner in Tuesday night’s semi-final of the Cambridgeshire Invitational Cup.

Next up for Appleford, a home match against old club Woodbridge and a chance to avenge the 3-1 defeat at the hands of the same side in October.

Appleford said: “There were bizarre circumstances around me leaving Woodbridge, but I wouldn’t swap anything that has happened as it has got me to this position with Mildenhall.

“The different experiences have set me up to be a better manager and I think what has happened at Mildenhall shows what can be done if you are given a bit of time.

“We have had two or three bad performances this season where the players haven’t turned up - and Woodbridge away was one of those. But we want to win every game regardless of who the opposition is.”

While he is coy about his time at Notcutts Park, Appleford is more forthcoming about his warm memories of Crane Sports in the Senior Division of the SIL league.

Appleford, who is moving this week but will remain in the Ipswich area, said: “Crane Sports was a great start for me. They are a great club and I can’t speak highly enough of them for giving me a chance.

“I still speak to some of their players regularly and they can’t believe how much I have changed in terms of how I approach matches now.”

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