Step 2 football helping Brakes compete with rivals’ riches

The success of the likes of Courtney Baker-Richardson is a major draw in attracting players to Leamington.
The success of the likes of Courtney Baker-Richardson is a major draw in attracting players to Leamington.

Leamington boss Paul Holleran readily admits the club struggles to compete with the financial muscle of some of their National League rivals.

However, he says this close season has been the worst yet, with several clubs much further down the Pyramid operating on budgets that dwarf his own.

Jack Edwards has committed to Brakes for the 2019/20 season.

Jack Edwards has committed to Brakes for the 2019/20 season.

Thankfully, he says he can offer something many of their competitors cannot; Step 2 football.

And that was the undoubted draw for Hednesford Town midfielder Reece King who became Brakes’ second signing of the summer, joining Josh March in making the switch to the Phillips 66 Community Stadium.

King, who was named Players’ Player of the Year at the Pitmen makes the move after 67 appearance for the Pitmen and Holleran said ambition rather than financial reward was the reason behind his switch.

“With the two new lads the refreshing thing is that they want to play at this level,” said Holleran.

“It’s getting so players are dropping one or two divisions for the benefit of their wallets.

“It’s refreshing that both wanted a crack at the National League.”

He continued: “We are a football club that stops within its means, we’ve got no big benefactor.

“The difficulty in today’s market is with some of the offers coming in at Step 3 and Step 4.

“From our point of view the National League is the biggest draw.

“If we weren’t in there we would be in big trouble.”

Holleran says Brakes’ reputation for reinvigorating careers makes them an attractive proposition for players eyeing a way into full-time football, with Matty Stenson and Courtney Baker-Richardson among those using Leamington as a stepping stone to the full-time game in recent years.

“Players can see the rewards of the National League.

“The profile gives players the chance to go again.

“Matty Stenson was doing the same here as he was doing at Barwell but his profile rose as a result of being in the National League.

“Players see Matty, Courtney Baker-Richardson the year before, Colby Bishop to an extent and Danny Udoh and know if they come in and get a string of games it is a good platform for them.

“You want them to do well for your football club first and foremost but you also want to help get them to a level that we all dream about as kids.”

Meanwhile, Holleran has allayed supporters’ fears that Jack Edwards is leaving the club.

The Courier & Weekly News revealed online last week that there had been interest in the 29-year-old from Conference North sides Boston United, Kettering and Alfreton.

Hereford are also believed to have made a late enquiry for the former Barwell player.

However, Holleran says that Edwards has decided to commit himself to Brakes, joining Jack Lane, Jamie Hood and James Mace in renewing deals in the past week.

“Obviously there had been speculation about Jack, but throughout that I was quietly confident that he would stay with us,” said Holleran.

“He’s not the only player in the squad to receive interest but the interest he has received is on the back of a couple of good seasons for us and players like Jack - versatile, experienced now, he chips in with goals, is good in both boxes and can play in a number of positions - are priceless really.

“I just feel that where Jack is, in himself, in his life, where we are as a football club, the geography of the football club, the way we run the football club - we’re a good fit.”

n Kieran Dunbar has been given the all-clear to start full rehabilitation.

The midfielder underwent surgery in February after suffering cartilage and bone damage in the game at Boston United and is expected to take ten weeks to be fully match fit.

n Brakes have announced a further friendly, with West Bromwich Albion’s Under-23 side set to visit the Phillips 66 Community Stadium on Saturday July 27 (3pm).