Former Garstang FC boss: Club needed someone else to take them to the next level

Richard Cookney admitted he wasn’t the right man to take Garstang FC forward after resigning as Riversiders’ manager last week.

Monday, 1st November 2021, 8:00 am

He departed the club in the wake of last Wednesday’s 3-1 home defeat against second-bottom Cleator Moor Celtic in the NWCFL First Division North.

Defeat left them 13th in the table and ended a managerial reign which began in August 2019 after Andy Payton’s shortlived stint in charge.

Speaking to the Courier and News at the end of last week, Cookney outlined the thinking behind his decision.

Richard Cookney (right) took over as Garstang manager in August 2019 alongside Mike Hart (left) and Andrew Forsyth (centre)

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He said: “I got to a point where I wasn’t enjoying it and it became more of a chore than an exciting hobby.

“At this level, you need to be enthusiastic and motivated in everything you do but I’ve got a lot going on in my life family-wise.

“I said to the committee after we played the other night (against Cleator Moor) that I was at a point where I realised the team we had was the strongest I’ve had and we didn’t get a result.

“I’m a realist and I know when the point is to leave. I feel the squad is the best I’ve managed but I feel like they need someone else who can take them to the next level.

“They have a squad that should be challenging and I haven’t been getting the best out of them.”

His departure may have come as a surprise to onlookers but Cookney outlined that it wasn’t a snap decision.

There had been signs of irritation, not least during his post-match interview after last month’s 4-1 defeat at Steeton when he claimed the Riversiders’ squad hadn’t turned up on the day.

Cookney said: “To be honest, a couple of weeks before, we played Holker (3-1 defeat) and we had no-one on the bench, lots of players were away.

“After that game, the vice-chairman, Nick Panepinto, said he thought I was going to go then but I thought I’d give it another week.

“We drew with Bury, then we beat Atherton but then, after Steeton, I called a few players out because we went from winning to losing with the same squad.

“I just feel that, the other night, Cleator Moor were very physical and they worked hard no matter what happened.

“I felt that we would come up against a lot of teams and were better footballers but we didn’t want it as much.

“We got to a point where I just felt it was right to move on.”

Cookney had come to the Riverside after five years with Poulton, progressing through the youth and reserve set-ups before two-and-a-half years with their first team.

However, with the pandemic cutting short the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, he only took charge of 44 league games.

Of those 44 matches, Garstang won 16 and drew seven with the other 21 ending in defeat.

On paper, 55 points from a possible 132 doesn’t give the impression of a job well done but those statistics don’t tell the full story.

A dozen of those losses came in Cookney’s 23-game first season, which saw him overhaul the squad inherited from Payton and guide the club to relative safety.

Last season saw only seven matches played, bringing three wins and four defeats, while he departed after four wins and five losses in 14 games this campaign.

While acknowledging the numbers may not make pretty reading, Cookney felt it was a case of experiencing some short-term pain in the hope of building for long-term gain.

He said: “If you look at the team now, I worked out there’s only Phil Nagy, Jonny Hothersall and Jake Salisbury left from the team we took over.

“They were bottom or second-bottom when we took over but we got ourselves to safety when that season ended early.

“The year after, we only played a few games but, this season, this team should be in the top five; they are one of the best teams in the league.

“I’ve already heard the names of people who have apparently applied for the job and they (the club) have some people with good experience.

“I definitely feel I’ve put a squad together for someone to take them to the next level and there’ll be nobody happier for the club than me if that does happen.”

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