On 29th April 2014 it was announced that John Coleman had left his role as manager of Southport after just 27 games in charge. The Club’s official statement was met with derision by a large section of the supporters due to comments relating to Coleman’s touchline manner putting the club in a difficult position when it came to “family values”.
Rewind just four months and Alan Wright’s tenure was coming to an unspectacular end. With an overall loss ratio of 60% Charlie Clapham’s gamble on the former Aston Villa star had failed. To Clapham’s credit he wasted no time in dispensing with his services and the supporters were enthused with the swift appointment of his replacement having seen the rise of Coleman’s Accrington Stanley from the Unibond to the Football League.
By the time he took over, the club were out of all major cup competitions and had just recorded 5 points from the past 30 available in the league. Coleman immediately set about re-engineering a team capable of picking up enough points to keep the club in the division.
Whilst a second away win may have been elusive Southport ground out some impressive points on the road and the task of survival was achieved with one game to spare thanks in the main to some incredible home form.
When his record is compared with his predecessor, he may have only one more victory to his name however the loss ratio had improved by almost 30%. In their statement upon his departure the club made reference to Coleman’s ambition to manage again in the Football League and whilst Coleman himself has stated that he was surprised by the decision he has made no secret of the fact that on football matters he did not see eye to eye with the Chairman. Coleman leaves the club holding the affection of the supporters having been a success both as a player and as a manager, even if his spell as the latter was a short one.
With a stated intent of stability from which to build over the next 3-4 years, the club appointed Martin Foyle as his replacement on Sunday evening (4/5/2014). Whilst it would be fair to say the appointment wasn’t met with the same levels of enthusiasm as Coleman’s in December, equally the club isn’t staring down the barrel at almost certain relegation and looking for an immediate saviour.
With experience of managing in the Football League with Port Vale (for whom he also had a succesful playing career), of managing a club to the Conference play off finals (York City), and managing clubs with a limited resources (both Northwich Victoria & Hereford), Foyle brings with him a CV that on paper lends itself quite well to the task ahead. His first job will be to assess the current squad and make some tough decisions. The pre-season schedule has not yet been announced and with the Conference season still not officially over he has plenty of time to make his mark before a ball is kicked in anger.
Welcome to the club Martin.
For Posterity, here are the two official announcements from the club:
“PORT OPERATION SURVIVAL ACHIEVED NOW FOR SEASON 2014-15
Southport Football Club achieved their operation survival, as the Sandgrounders clinched the crucial Conference points that guaranteed an exciting new Conference kick off in August. The club is looking to move forward both on and off the pitch.
John Coleman came into the club last December and navigated the Port to their points target of 30 points-in fact gaining 32. In so doing dispelling the real threat of relegation feared at the turn of the year.
Southport Football Club now have to look to the future, longer term planning to take the club forward as a competitor at the top end of the Conference table, fighting for Football League status.
John Coleman has made it clear that at his age of 52 he feels he should be managing in the Football League, and by his short management spell at Southport he has put himself back in the shop window. Everyone at Southport wishes him good luck as he pursues his managerial career that has seen him manage both Accrington Stanley and Rochdale in the Football League.John,in the local press, has questioned passionately whether he should be in football due to his stance with referees and assistants. This style of touchline behaviour has found the club in somewhat of a quandary regarding the FA Respect campaign and attracting a family audience.
John has kept the Merseyrail Community Stadium a fortress maintaining Alan Wright’s record but the away form, 9 points out of 23 games has been a disaster and nearly cost Southport their Conference status. Southport supporters travelling all over the country deserved better while home fans have played a great part in creating a positive home atmosphere for which the club says a sincere thank you.
The club has real ambitions for the future which may require three to four years of building though as we can see in this seasons play offs clubs such as FC Halifax have got there quicker than they thought. Southport Football Club would like to thank John Coleman and his assistant Jimmy Bell for their input and impact from mid December 2013-April 2014.”
(Southportfc.net – 29th April 2014)
“Martin Foyle is the new Southport manager.
Martin Foyle is the new Southport manager. The former Port Vale, York City and Hereford United manager arrives at the Merseyrail Community Stadium with vast experience. In a 20 year professional playing career Foyle made 603 appearances, scoring 213 goals.
Chairman Charlie Clapham stated “We are all very excited by the appointment of Martin Foyle. He has a tremendous CV and is a real football man. We are all looking forward to working with Martin. We have said that we need to be moving the club forward and Martin can achieve this, along with bringing stability to the club. Our objectives are to be competitive in the league, the FA Trophy and FA Cup”.
We have acted quickly, as we had a very high standard of applicants and we needed to make appointment quickly in order that the new manager could get a squad together. This is the start of a new era.
Martin Foyle is highly impressed with the club’s ambitions of competing at the top end of the division. One of the major attractions for the new Port boss are the excellent training facilities at Edge Hill University combined with the tremendous support staff at the University.
As manager of York City Martin Foyle took the club to Wembley in the FA Trophy Final in 2009, returning in 2010 in the Football Conference Play Off Final.
Foyle will be speaking to all the club’s players immediately, with several already retained on options.”
(Southportfc.net – 4th May 2014)