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29th August 2008



Great Yarmouth Town were rocked this week by the news that prolific striker Nick Crawley will be generally unavailable after this weekend with a new work opportunity opening up for him in Jersey. Paul Tong said the “gentleman striker” will be sorely missed as he, as a partner for Roach, had revitalised the team’s scoring ability with 17 goals in his 24 appearances since joining the Bloaters last November.


Crawley has just signed a new contract for the season and with the player’s agreement his registration will be retained as there is the possibility he may be occasionally available.


As to who will replace Crawley, Tong said: “We have a squad and a replacement will be found.”

16th June 2008



“Please don’t expect miracles!” Great Yarmouth Town chairman Steve Brierley warned the club’s members and supporters this week. Speaking at the AGM on Monday the new supremo, who took office in November but has only begun his task in earnest since the end of last season, continued: “There were some major losses in certain areas last season and we’ve stopped that rot, I believe,” he continued, “but to get this club going anywhere will not be an overnight job; it might take two or three years to start moving us up.


“We will not be breaking any banks but we’ve made a good start to securing the finances for the immediate future. We now have a commercial manager who is investigating several areas for us, we have many new sponsors on board, we have an experienced manager to work with Kevin Cruickshank on team matters, the clubhouse refurbishment is nearing completion, and things are moving ahead. But there is still much to do, so I must ask for your patience!”


Mr Brierley praised the efforts and achievements of Mr Cruickshank after he took on the first team in difficult circumstances and said the addition of Paul Tong to the management structure was another massive boost for the club. He had every confidence the pair would make a winning partnership.

16th June 2008

Paul Tong Returns: interview


“I look upon it as coming back home really,” reflected Paul Tong this week on accepting the offer to return to management at Great Yarmouth Town FC – albeit in partnership with Kevin Cruickshank.


“In all my years in football I look upon Yarmouth as my club, and the one that gave me probably my greatest pleasure and success in the game.”


Looking back to when he last departed the Wellesley in 2004, Mr Tong said: “When I left then, it was because after seven years there comes a time when you think you’ve taken it as far as you can. I worked with the best chairman ever – Arthur Fisk – and even though we sometimes had to agree to disagree it was always in the interests of the club: he had a big part in my coming back.


“And when you have ex pro players like Greg Downs and Tony Spearing saying they’ve had some of their best times in football at this club then we must have done something right!”


When the possibility of his being asked back to Yarmouth arose, Mr Tong said he would not consider it without first talking to Mr Cruickshank.


“I kept Kevin informed all the way through as I personally think he has done a splendid job. I respect the fact that he picked up the reigns when nobody else wanted to, I take my hat off to that! He’s done well and has got together the basis of a good team. He’s done better than a lot of people give him credit for, and now with my experience and his enthusiasm we can help this club get better and that’s what it’s all about.


“I watched a couple of Yarmouth’s games after I left Diss, and I like the freshness of the team, the enthusiasm, the abundance of youth, and I’m all for that.


“Our aim now will be to bring in a bit more experience into the team. Of course, We now have Stewie Roach back – and in all my years in football he is the best striker I’ve ever been involved with. He’s a senior player but I feel we just lack a little experience in certain areas – but Kevin and I are working on it.”


On his past exchanges with Roach, Mr Tong explained: “We’re both winners, Stewart and I, and he’s done well. Any past differences are behind us. At the end of the day it’s about the club not about Paul Tong. I respect Stewart, he’s doing a great job for the team, we need him as part of the set-up and he is happy to be that part.”


On his relationship with the new chairman, Mr Tong commented: “Steve wants to take the club forward and that also tempted me to come back. It’s not going to happen overnight but the club has to change and move on, we all acknowledge that, and it looks like Steve is the man to do it, with his helpers and others concerned. That’s what excites you really. He cares about the club and it’s not just a flash in the pan. He talks long-term about the club and where he wants to take it. If I can help along the way with my experience then so be it.”


Of the teams likely to be challenging for honours next season, he thought Diss, Gorleston and Saffron Walden would be up there but warned that the teams that came down – Newmarket, Swaffham and Ipswich Wanderers – would all be looking for a quick return to the Premier Division. “My dark horses would be new team Brantham Athletic,” Mr Tong said; “They have the ex-Sudbury manager there now, so will have the wherewithal to go places.”


On his aims for Yarmouth this season, Mr Tong said he was looking for a top six position: “We would certainly aim to improve on last year and a top six finish would allow us to aspire to greater heights the following season. Yarmouth are as good as anyone on their day but we will need consistency. Hopefully, we can all be part of the club moving forward. I’m excited about it and I hope others will be too.”

11th June 2008

The club has announced its management line-up for next season which includes the return of former manager Paul Tong who will run the first team jointly with Kevin Cruickshank, last season’s manager who successfully took over following the November resignation of Nick Banham. Tong, who was assistant manager to Bill Punton at Wellesley Road in the 1989-90 season and fully in charge of team affairs between 1997 and 2004, was most recently at Diss Town until near the end of last season.


Other appointments see Eden Rudling, last season’s goalkeeping coach, take on the Reserves, while Ian Griffin and Mark Scales will continue with their successful Under 18 set-up. A new venture is a pre-existing Under 9 side which is coming under the Bloaters’ banner next season, and this is run by former club player Wayne Hunter.

3rd January 2008

Roachy is Back! Yarmouth's former goal-scorer extraordinaire Stewart Roach returned to the Bloaters last Saturday after several years Suffolk exile at first Lowestoft Town and latterly Leiston. The Caister-born ex-Norwich City apprentice joined Yarmouth in the mid-1990s as a Youth player after not quite making it at Carrow Road, and after scoring six in one game for the Under 18s went on to play for the Reserves and first team within the week! The re-signing was not without its problems, and involved Ian Griffin "door-stepping" the Leiston chairman to get the business concluded in time for Roach to play against Whitton!


Roach had a dazzling career at Yarmouth and was leading scorer for four seasons, amassing 122 goals in 197 games. As a contracted player, he attracted a four-figure transfer fee when he moved to Crown Meadow in March 2000. In January of that year, Roach had a trial at Oldham but failed to impress then-manager Andy Ritchie and Lowestoft snapped up the clearly unsettled player who 'enjoyed' an on-off relationship with then-Bloaters boss Paul Tong.


Roach now declares he wishes to see out his playing days back at Wellesley Road, where the fans adored him, and his working-relationship with Dale Gordon is clearly a factor in this decision. Roach, now 29, has astonishingly been playing at centre-back for Leiston but Yarmouth are well-supplied in that department and manager Kevin Cruickshank will restore him to a striking role as a partner for the so-far equally prolific Nicky Crawley who has scored in every game so far. Although he did not score on Saturday, and only time will tell if he can recover that ability, Roach has other qualities he can contribute to the team, according to Cruickshank. He has had problems with injuries and is not 100% fit at the moment but was due to help that improve with a run-out with the Reserves on Wednesday against Caister.


All in all, 2008 is looking to be a year of great promise and expectation at Wellesley Road as new chairman Stephen Brierley and Director of Football Dale Gordon get stuck into their roles ever more deeply. The club now has the chance to go forward that it has never had before in quite the same way and with support building the lean years look set to fade away. Under manager Kevin Cruickshank and his assistant Ian Griffin the team has responded most positively to the changes at the club, playing attractively, scoring goals with a regularity that once seemed elusive and with only one defeat in December.

17th December

The football world has been dominated this week by the news of a new manager whose name begins with ‘C’, but while the national team now has their Capello, locally all eyes are on Cruickshank, as Yarmouth’s Kevin has accepted the first team leadership at Wellesley Road.


Chairman Stephen Brierley and Director of Football Dale Gordon have been so impressed with Cruickshank’s ability, enthusiasm and commitment that they had no hesitation in offering the position following last Saturday’s Reserve game. “I looked at two or three other candidates but having achieved what Kevin has in the short time he has been running the first team, I saw no good reason to change things,” said Gordon; “We are absolutely delighted he has decided to take it on.


“We know he has put in a lot of work over many years at the club, and if Kevin continues to do well, which we have every confidence he will, there’s absolutely no reason we should look elsewhere at the end of the season. He’s got the first team relaxed and enjoying themselves and it shows on the park.”


52-year old Cruickshank, who works in the Payroll department at the JPH, has been involved with Yarmouth since 1986, first as a player in the ‘A’ team, and then as manager of that side for a number of years before taking on the Youth side then the Reserves; this season, he was assistant manager to Nick Banham until the latter’s unfortunate resignation.


Cruickshank has always impressed as a hard-working and loyal member of the Bloaters’ set-up and recently was appointed the club’s Child Welfare Officer. He has a Level 2 coaching badge and next May will be aiming for Level 3; he also holds an FA Level three certificate in the treatment of injuries, and will continue to assist the Youth side in this way during matches.


Cruickshank rode out some unwarranted criticism when the Reserves were in trouble last season, though both ultimately survived, and he is now “made up” that he has been given this opportunity. “It’s like my birthday and Christmas all rolled into one,” he said: which indeed it is with his birthday falling on Christmas Eve! Although he initially expressed reluctance to take the job, he now says: “When players come up to you after a game to say thanks and well done, what else can you do?”


Ian Griffin, who has been assisting Cruickshank these past two or three games, will continue in that role whilst also remaining as joint Youth manager with Mark Scales. If the partnership continues to go as well as it has so far, Yarmouth will soon start moving up the Ridgeons One table. But Cruickshank is setting no targets for now. “We’ll just take it one game at a time,” he says.


Cruickshank thanked all those who have been sending him messages of support: "Since the shock resignation of Nick (Banham), I would like to thank all the senior and youth players at the Club for their commitment, attitude and effort both on and off the pitch. They have been some of the deciding factors for me in accepting the task of first team manager. I would also like to thank Ian who has accepted the task of assisting me with the first team duties and we would both like to thank everyone who has contacted us to give us their best wishes - it has been greatly appreciated."


3rd December 2007

The committee was joined by other club workers and helpers on Monday to hear a report on the progress made so far, one month into the new set-up. And remarkable progress it has proved to be in such a short time.


Chairman Stephen Brierley informed the meeting that sponsorship and financial support, so far amounting to five figures, has been obtained with more promised on a three-year plan basis; work on the Wellesley ground, including repair and renovation of the stands, Bloater Bar and Tea Hut is in the planning stage in conjunction with a co-operative Council, with getting the main stand in order a priority. Amongst other ideas being developed are match-day presentation and entertainment, and community involvement.


Director of Football Dale Gordon said that he has taken steps to speak to replacements for Nick Banham as manager. It is possible that the immediate appointment may be temporary until the end of the season. Both Gordon and Brierley said how pleased they are with the work Kevin Cruickshank has been doing with the Reserves and first team although he has said he does not want the top job on a permanent basis.


Gordon said he has been contacted by several players about joining the club but he was unable to name any due to their present situations with their current clubs, and any movements will not be until the end of the season anyway.


Gordon also said that progress would be a case of ‘one step at a time’: “We first need to get the club back into the Premier Division of the Ridgeons League, which will be our aim for next season, before we can even think about further ahead. We also want to smarten up the ground and make attending a match a more pleasant and rewarding experience for spectators.”


Both Brierley and Gordon spoke of their admiration for the tremendous work being done by all those present and said everyone who wanted was going to be a vital cog in the future working of the club. There are openings for more volunteers to help around the club, especially on match days, and all interested should enquire of club secretary Brian Smith by telephoning 01493 656099. This is also the number for initial enquiries regarding sponsorship and other forms of assistance to the club.

29th November 2007

Nick Banham, Great Yarmouth Town’s manager, has left the club. The likeable goalkeeper/manager told the players, already shocked by the defeat to Fakenham, in the dressing room last Saturday.


Apart from a brief spell at Dereham, Banham has been with Yarmouth since April 1998; he was brought to the club from Mulbarton by Paul Tong, and has proved the most enduring player, other than Mark Vincent, of modern times, amassing 438 appearances – and many friends in the local football scene. Banham turned to management last November when he was appointed caretaker-manager before being confirmed in the post in May.


Following new chairman Stephen Brierley’s appointment of Dale Gordon as Director of Football, Banham had been concerned about his own position at the club. A meeting with Gordon had been requested by the Youth team management and had taken place, and although Banham had not asked for one, he was expecting a meeting with the first team staff but this did not happen.


Banham admitted that Brierley had said that no major changes were going to be made this season but after three weeks in the job, he felt that Gordon should have at least had a meeting or a chat with them. “Dale did finally contact me after the Fakenham game,” said Banham, “but just to tell me his plans. Previously he had stated he wanted to run things professionally, perhaps if that was the case then I should have been contacted before I decided to stand down rather than after as the case was.”


Brierley said he was very disappointed with the decision. “I’d said I wanted everyone to carry on with their tasks as before and saw these next few months as a time to get the finances sorted ready for next season. There were no plans to do anything different on the playing side.


“Nick has obviously been a big part of this club for a long time and has done so much, I really appreciate that. On behalf of the club I sincerely thank Nick and his wife Julia for all they have done, often in difficult circumstances. It’s just sad he saw fit to leave like this.”


Banham said that telling the players on Saturday was one of the hardest things he has had to do: “The club has been my life for the past nine years, it was like having a second family. I wish the club and all associated with it well. I would like to thank the players past and present for their assistance, and for making my time at the club most enjoyable. 


“The supporters will always have a place in my heart, thank you for your banter from the sidelines, you can be heard even if you are a long way away! I would also like to thank the committee for giving me the opportunity to fulfil all my ambitions, and physio El Tel for his commitment to me and the club. 


“I would finally like to thank Kevin (Cruickshank) for assisting me this season, the man has got my utmost respect; he's a fighter, always puts others first and is always prepared to improve his knowledge for the sake of others. He has already turned the reserves around, got players back to the club, added others and got the total respect of all the players that play under him.”


A meeting of Brierley, Gordon and the players and managers was held on Tuesday when future plans were discussed. For now, Kevin Cruickshank will take the first team and the appointment of first team boss will be a top priority said Brierley.


Cruickshank faces the task of preparing the side for the weekend's difficult meeting with Debenham LC (Wellesley, 3). Fourth-placed Debenham have lost only once – surprisingly to Godmanchester who are one place lower than the Bloaters – and have a real goal ace in Stuart Jopling who notched five in a 6-0 win at Long Melford on the 20th of this month and has totalled 17 in league games, more than the Bloaters have scored all told! The village side also has the best defensive record in the division with only nine goals conceded in their 12 games.

16th November 2007
The following report appeared in today's Great Yarmouth Mercury.
Work goes on behind scenes at Wellesley

After rescuing Great Yarmouth Town from the rocks it is steady as she goes for the rest of season, according to the club's saviours.

New chairman Stephen Brierley and director of football Dale Gordon stepped into the breach last week, taking over the crisis-stricken football club.

Former Norwich City ace Gordon's phone has not stopped ringing since the announcement he was coming on board with millionaire businessman Brierley. “Players have phoned me left right and centre who want to be part of what we are trying to achieve,” said Gordon.

“It is a question of being patient, and if the right opportunity comes up we will get them involved, but it is important to do this like a professional set up. There is a lot of support for the club in the town and I have received so many messages of support.”

“At the moment we are just working quietly behind the scenes and making sure that the club just runs itself from now until the end of the season. There are a lot of dedicated people at the club and it is important that we keep them involved.”

Gordon said he was planning to have discussions with manager Nick Banham and other members of the backroom staff to see if they wished to remain part of the new set-up.

"I will speak to the management side to assess the current situation and talk to Nick about his role. It is important to see that the club progresses in the right way, and we appreciate the hard work that goes into it. Hopefully once they see what we are trying to do they will want to be a part of it.”

The former Canaries star has already pencilled in a pre-season friendly between Norwich City and Ipswich Town all-stars in a bid to bring the feel-good factor back to Wellesley Road.

Miles Jermy

9th November 2007
In his last role at the club, he was "General Manager." Now Dale Gordon returns as "Director of Football" to complement new chairman Stephen Brierley's business expertise.
Gordon was first brought to Wellesley Road at the beginning of the 1997-98 season by then-new manager Paul Tong but the relationship did not last long. The former Norwich City, Glasgow Rangers and West Ham star stayed for one season and made two appearances for the Bloaters - his debut coincided with that of FA Cup medal winner Greg Downs who scored the only goal in the game against Lowestoft - before taking on the team managerial role at Gorleston.
Caister-born Gordon, whose boyhood ambition was to play for the Bloaters though the call of Carrow Road proved too strong to resist, starred as a flying winger for City in the 1980's before spells with Rangers and the Hammers: he now runs a successful youth football academy.
"If you want to bring players in, it needs a bigger budget, but we will do it," he said. "I want to make sure people are treated as close to professionals as we can. Steve and I both set our standards very high and look to take the club into the 21st century with an injection of energy and cash.
"Yarmouth is a good place to be at the moment with everything that is happening in the town and we want to tap into this feel-good factor."
Gordon has started calling in favours from his impressive list of friends and contacts, including Rangers legend and former goalkeeper Andy Goram, to bring top teams to the Wellesley for pre-season friendlies.


A new chapter begins. Welcome Mr Stephen Brierley! The club committee unanimously elected the local and international businessman as chairman on Monday, and a storm of media interest followed. With Dale Gordon and Dion Dublin also coming on board, the words “dream team” have also been banded about.


Mr Brierley is a former Huddersfield Youth captain so knows a thing or two about football but he sees himself as masterminding the business side of things while Dale will oversee the playing aspects of the club and Dion will have an ambassadorial role. The new man said: “After looking around I felt positive from a business point of view that I could take it further, but I would not have got into it without Dale as my partner because he brings the wealth of football knowledge I have not got.”


A self-made, award-winning multi-million businessman who started out as a humble trader of broken biscuits on Yarmouth market, Mr Brierley heads an expanding family food empire - Brierley Foods - that has interests in Turkey as well as Yarmouth.


As a lifelong lover of the game - his office is stuffed with football memorabilia - he says this opportunity is a “dream come true” (that word again!); he says he wants to put something back into the town that has nurtured him since he moved here as a teenager.


Mr Brierley stressed that he admires all the people who have given their hearts and souls into keeping the club going and wants everyone to carry on doing what they do. But he will be looking at everything and everyone in the next few months to see what else can be done with the resources the club currently has. “Progress will be made but we will take things slowly for now; it will take time but the pace of change will improve,” he assured the committee; plans are already being laid for refurbishing the clubhouse!


One of his first problems, one that emerged only on Monday, is the discovery of structural problems with the stand. The council immediately closed it to the public until remedial work can be done, work that it seems will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds! Mr Brierley is arranging urgent talks with the council on this and other ground-related matters.



Monday also saw the passing away, after recent illness, of supporter Jimmy Stubbs who will be greatly missed. Jimmy “transferred” from Gorleston a few years ago after over 50 years of supporting the Greens, and last summer he was awarded Supporter of the Year for his tremendous support of the Bloaters (and of the Tea Hut where he was dubbed “Mr Bacon Roll Man”)! Young player Robbie Oldham said Jimmy was always ready with a supportive analysis of the game. A funeral service is to be held at Mary Magdalene Church in Gorleston next Thursday at 10am.

Mr Steven Brierley was announced as the new Chairman of Great Yarmouth Town Football Club after last night's crucial committee meeting. Ater a recommendation by the senior officers conducting the  interviewing process, the committee unanimously elected Mr Brierley to lead the club into a bright new future. Mr Brierley, originally from Huddersfield but a Yarmouth resident since age 11, runs a food and snacks business based in Yarmouth but with interests also in Turkey. His business career started out on Yarmouth market selling broken bicuits and has expanded now to interests with a 5m turnover.
Mr Brierley's first move was to bring back Dale Gordon to the club as Director of Football but for now all other posts and jobs within the club will remain as before. Dale Gordon, former Norwich City and Glasgow Rangers star, was involved briefly with Yarmouth under Paul Tong in the mid-nineties.
Mr Brierley said being given this opportunity was a dream come true for him.